Employee Benefits and Resources During a Lapse in Appropriations - Treasury Employees

Dear Colleagues,

First, I would like to thank all of our employees for your hard work and personal sacrifice during the current lapse in appropriations. I also wanted to let you know that, as the current government shutdown continues, the Department of the Treasury is committed to doing whatever we can to assist employees who are impacted by the lapse.  We understand the serious implications for our employees and will do what we can to minimize the effects as much as legally possible.  We are making every effort to keep you informed about the situation and to broadly communicate answers that we have to frequently asked employee questions. 

The guidance below provides information about employee benefits and other resources available to you during a lapse in appropriations. This guidance is derived from information provided by the Office of Personnel Management, various federal government websites, and credible non-federal websites offering support or resources for Federal Employees impacted by the government shutdown. We have put together this summary to answer key employee questions and to better support you, whether you are furloughed or working without pay under an exception to furlough.

For more detailed information, please visit the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website at www.opm.gov. You can also go directly to OPM’s publication Guidance for Shutdown Furloughs which includes Frequently Asked Questions concerning employee issues arising from shutdown furloughs.

The Department has compiled additional information concerning interactions with financial institutions and lenders. 

  • Fannie Mae issued guidance on December 26 regarding lender and servicer assistance to borrowers affected by the government shutdown.
  • Freddie Mac issued guidance on January 3 regarding lender and servicer assistance to borrowers affected by the government shutdown.
  • The Office of Personnel Management recently released sample letters affected federal employees may send to creditors or mortgage companies.
  • Certain financial institutions have voluntarily taken steps during the current government shutdown to assist their affected customers.

Unemployment Compensation

The Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program provides benefits for eligible Federal employees. The program is administered by individual states as agents of the Federal government. This program is operated under the same terms and conditions that apply to regular state unemployment insurance. In general, the law of the state in which your duty station is located will determine eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. Several state offices that handle unemployment insurance, including in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., have posted notices about how Federal workers can collect unemployment benefits. Note: Virginia, Maryland and D.C. have agreed to waive the work search requirement for furloughed employees seeking unemployment insurance benefits due to the shutdown.  Please follow the link below and select your state for specific information about unemployment benefits: state locator.

Federal employees who meet the requirements of their state will most likely be eligible for unemployment benefits once they have been in a non-pay status for seven consecutive days. Employees should use the first three digits of their agency’s Federal Identification Code (FIC) for the unemployment insurance application.  If employees are paid retroactively for the furlough period, they may be required to pay back any unemployment insurance benefits received. Please follow the link for more information: Unemployment Insurance Factsheet.

You can get your latest W-2 form and Earning and Leave statement from the National Finance Center by accessing their Employee Personal Page. If you forgot your user name or password, you may use the automated tools to request them online or by email.  Employees who do not have an alternate email address established and cannot retrieve their password may contact their respective Bureau Human Resources Office for information on ways to obtain the necessary documents for filing unemployment claims. 

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

The TSP will continue its normal daily operations during the federal government shutdown. Read the TSP fact sheet Effect of Nonpay Status on Your TSP Account to get answers to questions about the shutdown’s impact on TSP contributions, loans, and withdrawals. The fact sheet also emphasizes that your agency should not send Form TSP-41, Notification to TSP of Nonpay Status to the TSP during a federal government shutdown. A shutdown is a rare occurrence and is typically of short duration.

Federal Employees who are furloughed for at least one but no more than 30 days are eligible for a TSP loan.  If you expect to be furloughed on a periodic basis (for example, one day per pay period), you can take a TSP loan but will be responsible for keeping your loan payments up-to-date if you don’t earn enough per pay period for your agency to make each required loan payment. When you sign your TSP Loan Agreement, you promise to repay your loan and authorize the TSP to deduct your loan payments from your pay.

The first payment is due on or before the 60th day following the loan issue date.  If employees are paid retroactively for the time covered by a shutdown or furlough, regular employee contributions and appropriate agency matching contributions will be withheld and submitted. To apply for a loan please visit the TSP website (https://www.tsp.gov). To obtain more information about eligibility for a TSP loan please visit: Effect of Non-pay Status on Your TSP Account.  

Employee Assistance Program

Treasury Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are expected to continue to operate during a furlough and employees may benefit from counseling assistance from their bureau EAPs during this difficult time. Treasury employees may contact their Bureau Human Resources Office or other designated Bureau contact for information about these services. In addition to financial counseling which may be offered by EAP programs, employees may want to contact their financial institution, TSP, or credit union to learn about additional options for financial assistance. 

Credit Unions and other assistance

Several financial institutions have announced they will be making special accommodations for federal employees who have been furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown.  Employees should contact their financial institutions directly to learn about these resources.

If federal buildings are closed, members of credit unions on federal property would continue to have access to their accounts and services through their ATM networks, offices and branches located outside of a government facility and at any shared branches as well as through online banking, where offered. To find ATM locations and shared branch locations, credit union members can go to their credit union's website, contact their institution or visit Credit Union Lookup.

Federal Employees may be able to benefit from assistance offered by The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund which offers one-time $1,200 loans to federal employees facing financial hardship who need help paying basic living expenses.  Furloughed federal employees must wait until they receive their first “short” paycheck before applying for the loan. Visit FEEA Emergency Hardship Loans.  

Continuation of Pay (COP) under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) / Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWCP)

The Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs which administers the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) advises that, in the event of a Government shutdown, an employee who is disabled due to injury is to be maintained in Continuation of Pay (COP) status during the shutdown unless the agency does not have monies available to pay the salary of that employee.  If the agency does not have monies to pay salary during the shutdown but the agency’s budget is subsequently restored in such a way as to allow for retroactive payment of salary during the shutdown period, the employee should receive COP for any period of disability that occurs within the shutdown.  In the event an agency is legally unable to pay COP to an employee because of a lapse in appropriations, the employee may file a claim for regular FECA wage loss compensation for that period. Visit Office of Workers' Compensation Programs Website.

Retirement Benefits

If a shutdown furlough occurs during the 3 years of service prior to an employee’s retirement, generally there will be no effect on the high-3 average pay unless the furlough causes the employee to be in a non-pay status for more than 6 months during the calendar year. Visit OPM's Retirement Services website.

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program

FEHB coverage will continue even if an agency does not make the premium payments on time. Since the employee will be in a non-pay status, the enrollee’s share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status. Visit OPM Healthcare website.

Federal Dental and Vision (FEDVIP)

Payroll deductions will cease for any employee that does not receive pay. BENEFEDS will generate a bill to enrollees for premiums when no payment is received for two consecutive pay periods. The enrollee should pay premiums directly billed to him/her on a timely basis to ensure continuation of coverage. Visit BENEFEDS website.

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

FEGLI coverage continues for 12 consecutive months in a non-pay status without cost to the employee or to the agency. Neither the employee nor the agency incurs a debt during this period of non-pay. Visit OPM Life Insurance Website.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAFEDS)

Payroll deductions will cease for any employee who does not receive pay. The employee remains enrolled in FSAFEDS, but eligible health care claims incurred during a non-pay status will not be reimbursed until the employee returns to a pay status and allotments are successfully restarted. The remaining allotments are recalculated over the remaining pay periods to match the participant’s election amount. Website: www.fsafeds.com

Eligible dependent care expenses incurred during a non-pay status may be reimbursed up to whatever balance is in the employee’s dependent care account—as long as the expense incurred during the non-pay status allows the employee (or spouse, if married) to work, look for work, or attend school full-time.

Federal Long Term Care (FLTCIP) Program

Payroll deductions will cease for any employee that does not receive pay.  Coverage will continue so long as premiums are paid. If Long Term Care Partners (LTCP) does not receive payment for three consecutive pay periods, they will begin to directly bill the enrollee.  The enrollee should pay premiums directly billed to him/her on a timely basis to ensure continuation of coverage. Website: www.ltcfeds.com.

Additional Reminders

If you are on furlough, you should not use your government-furnished mobile device or log into your government account through remote access. Public Transportation Incentive Program (PTIP) benefits may only be used for work-related transit by excepted and exempted employees. PTIP benefits may not be used while an employee is on furlough status. Furloughed employees previously approved for paid leave (annual, sick, court, etc.) during the furlough period, will have leave cancelled.

Thank you again for your service and flexibility during this difficult and uncertain time. 

 

Sincerely,

David F. Eisner

Assistant Secretary for Management