Federal and state agencies will need to coordinate to determine required action under individual state unemployment insurance laws.

During the partial government shutdown, many thousands of federal employees—an exact number is not known—filed for unemployment compensation benefits to tide them over financially, even though policy always was clear that if they later received back pay for that time, they would have to repay any benefits they received. That time is now arriving.

According to OPM, when a retroactive payment is made, the agency must check its records “to determine if the recipient of the retroactive payment filed a claim for unemployment benefits within the last 52 weeks and, if so, the agency should inform the state unemployment insurance agency of the amount and period covered by the retroactive payment.”


“The state UI agency will determine whether or not an overpayment exists and, generally, the recovery of the overpayment is a matter for state action under its law; however, some state UI laws require the employer to recover such overpayment by collecting the overpayment amount from the employee. The federal and state agencies will need to coordinate to determine the required action in accordance with the individual state UI law.”

OPM encouraged agencies to develop lists or spreadsheets that can be provided to the containing the employees’ names, Social Security numbers, and the amounts and periods of time covered by the retroactive payment.

States vary in their policies regarding repayment, OPM said, with most allowing an individual to set up a repayment agreement to satisfy the overpayment rather than requiring a lump-sum.