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Awesome Resources for Furloughed Workers

Resources for Furloughed Workers
Credit: baranq/Shutterstock

On Jan. 25, 2019, auto insurance company GEICO donated $75,000 to support programs helping workers impacted by the partial government shutdown. The donations are being distributed to the Washington, D.C.-based Capital Area Food Bank and the FEEA fund, also known as the Federal Employee Education and Assistance fund.

The food bank plans to use the money to serve 125,000 meals to impacted furloughed workers across D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Meanwhile, the FEEA plans to provide microgrants to some of the lowest income federal employees who are furloughed or working in excepted status. The grants will be available nationwide, and for those who have already taken out loans or have payments due to GEICO, the company is offering alternative payment schedules and deferred payments. But they are far from the only company offering such perks to those who have been without pay for more than a month.

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Sure, some people may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE), but there are other ways to find help. Companies are donating to food banks, offering fee waivers on loans, giving away movie tickets and even opening grocery store pop-ups for federal works, deferring payment until after the shutdown is resolved. If you have been impacted, check out these resources that might be able to help.

1. All the major U.S. phone carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) are offering "promise to pay" programs that let workers defer payment on bills without risking shutdown of service. The Boston-based company Community Phone is offering a free $100 credit and a contract for one free year to affected people.

2. The United Way established a special fund to help workers impacted by the shutdown. The United for U.S. Fund combines the efforts of corporate partners (such as Bank of America), organized labor, United Way and other nonprofits. By texting SHUTDOWN to 40403 or going to unitedway.org/unitedforusfund, you can contribute to this fund. The United Way will use that fund to provide financial services and counseling as well as emergency assistance for food, rent, mortgage payments, and other immediate employee needs. The organization promises 100 percent of donations will serve those impacted communities. For those seeking help, contact your local United Way, or dial 211 to get connected to the resources and services in your local community. You can also call on someone else's behalf to get confidential help.
 

3. Wells Fargo is offering financial relief to workers impacted by the shutdown. The company donated $250,000 to the United Way's fund. But the company is also offering fee reversals for late fees, overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees and waivers to affected customers. It will work with customers to prevent a negative consequence for missing payments. If you're affected and a Wells Fargo customer, you can call the company's new customer assistance line at (800) 219-9739 or check out the company's government shutdown assistance webpage. [Interested in alternative small business loans? Check out our best picks.]
 

4. Bank of America is reaching out to its customers affected by the shutdown to inform them about its Client Assistance Program, which offers a variety of financial assistance options based on your specific needs.
 

5. Unilever has pledged donations of food supplies and personal care products valued at $2 million to go to 200 food banks around the country. The donations are through the manufacturing giant's partnership with Feeding America. Intuit has made a similar promise of $2 million in donations to local food banks helping federal workers.
 

6. Liberty Tax expanded its Easy Advance program to offer furloughed workers or those working without pay immediate access to tax refunds of $500 with no interest or fees, if you already expect to receive a refund of at least $1,001. And the company is offering a $25 discount on tax preparations. The offer is good from Jan. 21 to Feb. 28, 2019.
 

7. Visor is offering free tax prep for the first 500 government workers who sign up. (The service is fee is $99 normally.)
 

8. U.S. Bank launched a new low-rate quick loan for customers affected by the shutdown. Qualified federal employees can apply for a $100 to $6,000 loan with an annual percentage rate (APR) of 0.01 percent. The company's emergency assistance line has been set up at (877) 760-6046.
 

9. Chase bank has promised to help customers who are government employees affected by the shutdown. It is encouraging customers to call its toll-free number at (888) 356-0023 to discuss the company's various hardship programs.
 

10. Union Plus credit card holders who are furloughed or excepted, and who have been in good standings for three months, can apply for a one-time grant of $300 by going to the company's website. The same company is offering mortgage assistance for mortgage holders in good standing.
 

11. Cadence Bank, with locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, is offering furloughed federal employees zero percent interest loans. The loans will match the amount of an employee's paycheck and are subject to the normal credit approval process. You'll need your most recent pay stub and federal ID to apply.
 

12. Many local credit unions are offering financial help to members affected by the shutdown. Those credit unions include Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU), Central Valley Firefighters Credit Union, Kings Federal Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union, Noble Credit Union, San Joaquin Power Employees Credit Union, Tulare County Federal Credit Union, United Local Credit Union and Valley First Credit Union. The help they are offering includes skipping loan payments and zero percent loans. Navy Federal Credit Union, one of the largest such organizations in the country, is also offering financial assistance to affected workers. The organization plans to cover direct deposits for eligible members while the shutdown continues. Eligible members can register to get the relief through the Navy Federal website.
 

13. The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) is offering small grants of $100 to furloughed and excepted federal employees who earn $35,000 per year or less.
 

14. Member companies of the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) are offering financial help to customers who have auto finance or traditional loans with the organization. The companies are offering a variety of emergency responses, including loan extensions, deferrals and fee-free account actions. Plus, they are offering special reporting codes to credit bureaus so that affected customers' credit accounts are not marked as delinquent. Some member companies are putting the shutdown on a similar par as customers who have been affected by natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires.
 

15. Discover cardmembers affected by the shutdown that have a loan may be eligible for assistance by skipping payments or having late fees reversed.
 

16. Ally Financial has expanded its assistance program to offer aid based on individual needs. The options include refunds of transaction fees and non-sufficient funds, CD early-withdrawal penalty waivers, expedited check fee waivers, wire fee waivers, late charges and payment extensions.
 

17. First Command Financial Services has promised to extend direct deposit payments to federal employees affected by the shutdown. The company is offering zero interest payroll advances, loan assistance, penalty-free CD withdrawals, secured lines of credit and is waiving cash advance fees on credit cards.
 

18. Access National Bank is assisting government contractors and businesses affected by the shutdown. Clients are encouraged to contact the bank to discuss their various options.
 

19. First National Bank of Omaha is offering assistance on a case-by-case basis where the company will waive feeds and work with federal employees on other forms of payment assistance. But you need to call (888) 283-5228 to find out if you qualify.
 

20. Highland Bank, a Twin Cities community bank, is offering a loan relief program to eligible furloughed employees. These are short-term, low-interest loans up to $7,500. Loan recipients have one year to repay the loan. The bank is waiving its normal $25 loan application fee. To qualify, you will need the Notice of Furlough, government-issued ID and proof of income from a pay stub or bank statement showing direct deposits. Federal contractors aren't eligible.
 

21. Better Mortgage has launched a mortgage refinance program called Shutdown Relief Emergency Refi to allow federal employees to tap into their home equity for living expenses and loan payments.
 

22. The Hartford insurance company is offering qualified policyholders a payment grace period if they are affected by the shutdown. To see if you qualify, call the company's assistance line at (800) 393-0864.
 

23. MetLife Auto and Home is granting one-time, 30-day grace periods on policy payments. There are restrictions. To find out if you qualify, contact the company at (800) GET-MET8.
 

24. Toyota Motor Corp is offering extensions on car loans and leases by as much as two months to those furloughed workers affected by the shutdown.
 

25. The VCA Animal Hospitals network is offering federal employees flexible payment plans for pets that need veterinary care at one of the organization's 700 vet hospitals located around the country. The offer stands until the shutdown is completely over.
 

26. PETA is offering free spay or neuter services and free rabies vaccinations for pets in Virginia, and is sending free dog food to Coast Guard personnel in Cape May, New Jersey.
 

27. APS, an Arizona-based electric company, has pledged $1.5 million to help customers struggling to pay electricity bills due to the shutdown. The program gives APS customers up to $400 per year to help with payments. Federal employees affected by the shutdown, those facing unforeseen medical expenses and other financial hardships are encouraged to apply.
 

28. A veteran-owned moving company in the DC metro and Miami, Florida, areas called Two Marines Moving has pledged to hire government employees and veterans affected by the government shutdown.
 

29. Through Boot Camp Digital, federal employees can get three months of free access to online courses on such topics as Facebook marketing, online advertising and social media strategy. You can apply with your federal email address.
 

30. Rosetta Stone is offering furloughed employees a three-month gift of the language learning platform. To apply, send an email to expandyourworld@rosettastone.
 

31. At 33 of Park University campuses located on military installations around the country, Coast Guard employees can get special tuition assistance. The company announced it will waive tuition for one class (up to three credit hours) for those who enroll for the spring term. In addition, it is offering a $60 credit toward books.
 

32. The Daily Burn streaming fitness program is offering a 100-day free trial to federal employees. And after 100 days, you can get 50 percent off the next year.
 

33. Sweetgreen, the salad chain, is giving away free salads to government employees, as long as you produce your federal government ID.
 

34. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is offering federal employees free movie tickets Monday through Thursdays when they present a federal ID at the box office.
 

35. The Harlem Globetrotters are offering furloughed employees two free game tickets to the 2019 Fan Powered North American tour.
 

36. The national home search platform, Homesnap, launched a social media-based relief program. If you take a picture of your home or record a video explaining what your home means to you and post using the #MyHomeMeans and #ShutdownStories on social media before Jan. 31, you may be eligible for a relief program to pay rent or mortgages of federal employees. You can also apply online.
 

37. Bikram Yoga Works and Cryotherapy is offering free yoga classes at noon for federal employees until the shutdown is over. You just need your valid ID at check-in. The offer applies to the company's Maryland locations.
 

38. Floyd's 99 Barbershops are offering half-priced haircuts and free massage shampoos to furloughed employees in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
 

39. The online pharmacy HealthWarehouse.com is offering furloughed employees up to 50 percent off their prescription drug costs for up to a month after the shutdown ends.
 

40. Great Harvest Bread Co. is placing a "shutdown shelf" in more than 50 locations to give away free bread to federal workers. You'll find a list of participating locations online.
 

41. TSA and customs employees at 1,000 airports and transportation terminals nationwide are being offered 20 percent off food, beverage and core products at Hudson Group locations if they show their ID.
 

42. Notarize, the online notarization company, is offering free notarizations to affected federal employees who supply their .gov email address.

Many other companies are offering freebies in local destinations, such as Bubbakoo's Burritos, which is offering U.S. Coast Guard service members free meals in Point Pleasant, Manasquan Neptune, Wall and Seabright, New Jersey. Or there's the Hotel Association of New York City, which is offering free hotel rooms for federal employees who need to travel for personal emergencies during the shutdown. You may have to do a little digging to find those deals.

Anna Attkisson

After getting infected with the publishing bug at Wireless World and Cellular Business magazines, Anna Attkisson went on to dabble in all sorts of publications covering everything from children's fashion to financial planning, cars and travel. She then spent 10 years, writing and editing for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide. And now she oversees the editorial planning for Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas and is passionate about learning.

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