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Federal employees, contractors seek assistance as shutdown enters Day 7

More than 300 people have applied for unemployment insurance benefits in DC since the shutdown began.

The partial government shutdown has created an unexpected financial burden on thousands of workers in the DMV.

The legislative stalemate on Capitol Hill has forced some government employee to seek assistance in places where they might not have just two weeks ago.

The District of Columbia has already received 329 applications for unemployed insurance benefits from furloughed government workers and contractors who have been impacted by the shutdown.

"Just as over 70 percent of workers do, many federal employees live paycheck-to-paycheck, and this type of shutdown cripples their economic stability," DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal workers in the country, said its members, on average, receive $500 a week in wages.

In the District, the Department of Employment Services has encouraged furloughed government workers and contractors to visit dcnetworks.org to file for unemployment compensation benefits.

DC has also extended the business hours of its Department of Employment Services and American Job Center Headquarters to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, to assist unemployment insurance claim filers.

The US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently released sample letters for federal workers to use as a guide when dealing with creditors during the shutdown.

Each sample letter includes the following statement:

"As we discussed, I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency. Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my monthly payments, along with my other expenses."

OPM also recommends that federal workers speak with their creditors directly before sending that person a letter.

"Just sending a letter may not be very effective as it will take a fair amount of time to get to the individual who needs to see it, if at all," an OPM document advised. "Speaking with your creditors will enable you to work out the details of any payment plan that you can later confirm with your letter."

However, OPM has received some criticism for its efforts to assist workers.

The agency said if a worker needs legal advice to assist them, they should consult with their personal attorney or contact their state or county bar association.

Some people have taken to Twitter to criticize OPM for being out of touch for its advice suggesting many people have personal attorneys.

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