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Furloughed Workers Worry About Bills During Shutdown

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Courtesy Jessica Caso)

    With thousands of federal workers furloughed due to the government shutdown, many are wondering how they'll pay their bills.

    Many have begun filing for unemployment benefits ahead of any financial difficulties they may face.  Najla Haywood, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Employment Services, says all initial claims for unemployment need to be filed online due to the increased demand.

    The agency says it will be processing claims, but there might be delays for federal workers in order to verify their employment status and incomes while their offices are closed. There is a one-week waiting period before benefits are paid.

    While many federal workers live in Maryland and Virginia, unemployment claims are generally filed where they work. So the district could see a heavy demand for unemployment checks.

    Many government agencies are also located in suburban Maryland (file here) and Virginia (file here).

    For those who may still face some financial hardship, some companies are reminding customers about payment plans that can lend a hand.

    Electricity Companies

    Pepco says they have a number of payment options that can help those experiencing financial troubles during the government shutdown. Customers can make special payment arrangements by calling the utility at 202-833-7500. Those who qualify can also apply for a deadline extension or one of Pepco's energy assistance programs.

    Dominion Virginia Power Spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson encourages customers who may experience challenges paying their bill to set up an online account at www.dom.com as soon as possible. With an online account, customers can see whether they qualify for one of the utility's energy assistance programs.

    BGE customers are encouraged to call the company directly at 800-685-0123 if they are concerned about making payments.

    Washington Gas also told News4 that it works year-round with customers on a case-by-case basis to provide payment arrangements for those currently having financial issues. The Customer Service line is 703-750-1000.

    Car Payments

    There is some relief for Hyundai owners. The company is offering to defer new car payments for federal workers on furlough because of the shutdown. Under the program, people who buy or lease Hyundai cars through Hyundai Finance America during the month of October won’t have to make payments until January.  Those who already own a car financed through Hyundai won’t have to make payments until they go back to work. It’s part of the company’s Hyundai Assurance program.

    Nissan is also offering a helping hand to those affected by the shutdown. Those who've purchased or leased vehicles through Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation can receive a car payment extension of up to 90 days. 

    Phone Bills

    Sandra Arnette, a public relations representative with Verizon, said while the company doesn't have a specific plan in place to help furloughed workers, they often work with customers who are in good standing on a case-by-case basis.

    Student Loans

    There are several payment options available to you if you're are facing financial hardship when it comes to paying your student loans. One of those options includes filing for a hardship forbearance, which is available to customers who are temporarily unemployed.

    But loans still accrue interest during forbearance, so Nelnet advises customers to at least pay "the monthly interest during this period to avoid interest capitalization."

    Click here for more information.

    Banks and Credit Unions

    Several banks and credit unions are working with customers who may be affected by the shutdown.

    TD Bank has launched a new payment assistance program specifically designed to help its furloughed customers. The program includes late fee refunds for furloughed customers who make late payments. It will last through November 2nd or through the end of the furlough, whichever happens sooner.

    Wells Fargo and Capital One have both agreed to work with customers on a case-by-case basis.

    Navy Federal says all October 1 direct deposits will be processed normally. They will also cover the October 15 payroll for active duty military members who have enrolled in direct deposit at the credit union. Navy Federal is offering special lines of credit and personal loans to those affected as well. 

    PenFed advises customers to call 1-800-247-5626 for more information on their programs.

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