Unemployment Compensation

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(This article appeared in the September/October 2010 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Sue Carney, Director Human Relations Dept.

Injured employees who undergo the National Reassessment Process (NRP) and are told by the Postal Service either that there is only partial-day work available or that there is no work available, should consider applying for unemployment compensation. This temporary financial assistance can serve as an important monetary bridge during the time that an employee is waiting for his or her OWCP compensation to be processed.

This program is formally known as the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employee’s Program, and is administered by the states under separate agreements with theU.S. Secretary of Labor. A Postal Service employee’s entitlement to this benefit is determined by each state’s employment security laws and varies according to the individual state rules and the employee’s wage and separation history.

An injured employee whose work hours have been reduced or eliminated by the NRP should ask the Postal Service to provide them with a Form SF 8, Notice to Former Employee About Unemployment Insurance. Don’t be misled by the phrase “former employee.” The SF 8 is also used for current employees who have had their work hours reduced or eliminated. The complete instructions can be found in Chapter 550, “Unemployment Compensation,” of theEmployee and Labor Relations Manual.

Health and Resource Management personnel at Postal Service headquarters have assured us that the SF 8 will be made available to injured employees who receive “Partial Day Work” or “Complete Day No Work” letters. However, the employee must ask for the form. It will not be provided automatically.

Injured employees who are provided work on an intermittent basis are issued an SF 8 only for the first time in each calendar year when they are placed in a non-pay status. However, an SF 8 is issued each time to any employee who is, or will be, placed in a non-pay status for seven or more consecutive calendar days.

To facilitate the processing of a claim for unemployment compensation, an employee should take with them the SF 8; the most recent SF 50, Notification of Personnel Action; their Social Security card; W-2 form, and a recent pay stub showing earnings and leave balance.

OWCP will pay injured employees wage loss compensation even if they are receiving unemployment compensation. OWCP does not consider this situation to be a prohibited dual payment. However, virtually every state’s unemployment compensation regulations do consider this to be a dual payment, and would expect to be reimbursed for the unemployment compensation that was paid during the same period that a person received OWCP wage loss compensation.

Postal Employees’ Relief Fund

The Postal Employees’ Relief Fund (PERF) is a charitable organization that assists active and retired postal employees who become victims of natural disasters and home fires. Since its creation in 1990, PERF has provided more than 3,000 grants totaling nearly $15 million to postal workers. More than 1,700 grants totaling more than $8 million were issued as a direct result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

Following these devastating hurricanes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared another 317 disasters in the US; 57 of these occurred in the first half of 2010 — and we are still in the midst of the hurricane season. The fund has also been issuing an average $145,000 in relief grants each month, largely due to the high number of floods impacting postal families. If this trend continues, without your extreme generosity, PERF will be depleted in approximately one year.

Please give generously to PERF, and help postal families in need. To contribute, designate #10268 to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), or make your tax deductible contribution by mail or online at www.postalrelief.com. Local and state organizations can donate to PERF from their treasuries, provided all constitutional provisions are adhered to.

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