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State Agencies Directed To Help Furloughed Workers Amid Longest Government Shutdown

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: File

Some relief may be coming for furloughed federal employees in New York as the country’s longest government shutdown enters its fourth week.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that state agencies have been directed to provide support for federal workers, including those seeking unemployment insurance benefits. The Department of Labor has been instructed to accelerate the unemployment application process and extend the hours at the Call Center for those seeking benefits.

"It is unconscionable that the President is holding hostage the wages and livelihoods of hard-working Americans in an attempt to advance his hateful and regressive political agenda," Cuomo said in a statement. "While the federal administration steps on the backs of workers, New York State is stepping up to help in any way we can.

"These measures will ensure furloughed federal workers in New York receive prompt and special one-on-one services so they can obtain the vital safety-net benefits they need during this hard time."

The New York State Department of Labor said that there are approximately 114,000 federal employees in the state, all of whom have been without a paycheck since the shutdown began on Dec. 22 as politicians haggle about immigration reform. In total, an estimated 800,000 federal workers have been without work for weeks.

"We shouldn't be playing politics over keeping a government open and functioning," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "People's lives are at stake every minute the federal shutdown continues. To help the hardworking New Yorkers impacted by the longest shutdown in history, state agencies will provide the assistance, benefits and support they need while their wages are being denied by the federal government.”

Cuomo said that additionally, some furloughed federal workers or federal employees who are still working but not receiving a paycheck may also be eligible for emergency assistance to help meet basic needs through the state's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Even households that are not traditionally eligible for public assistance may be eligible for short-term assistance to help pay rent or buy food if they do not have resources readily available to them due to loss of income

"Federal workers adversely impacted by the ongoing government shutdown need to know that they may qualify for help while they are forced to go without a paycheck,” Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said. "It is important that they reach out to their local department of social services to find out what assistance may be available to them.”

Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon added, "this shutdown is a hardship on federal employees, but luckily there are benefits available to help them through this difficult time. Our agency continues to stand ready to assist our fellow government workers. Reach out to us — we're here to help."

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