Thousands of furloughed federal workers who received unemployment checks during the 16-day shutdown will have to begin paying the government back.

Roughly 50,000 employees filed for unemployment in and around Washington, D.C., while the government was closed. Nearly 34,000 workers filed claims within the shutdown’s first weekOver 16,000 government workers sought unemployment over the duration of the shutdown in the nation’s capital, according to Najla A. Haywood, public information officer for the District of Columbia’s Department of Employment Services (DOES).

“DOES dispersed payment for 1,700 of these claims via debit card or direct deposit,” Haywood said. “Claimants are currently receiving notification from the DOES advising them on how they can pay back these benefits.”

Haywood said workers who received unemployment have 60 days to reimburse the government. In some cases, the agency can reverse payments if the claimant has not yet accessed the funds, which were disbursed via direct deposit or debit card.

Most of the 1,700 recipients received the maximum weekly benefit amount of $359, Haywood said.

“Those who have hardships must communicate them to DOES as early as possible and throughout the restitution agreement period in order to receive additional time to repay,” Haywood said.

“However, failure to adhere to restitution agreements could result in future garnishment of wages as DOES is legally required to recover these funds,” she said.

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