U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released a resources list Friday to help West Virginians impacted by the government shutdown.

“I remain committed to finding a solution that reopens the federal government and funds our border security to keep Americans safe," Manchin said in the release.

"I believe that federal workers should not pay the price for Congressional inaction, which is why I worked with my colleagues to introduce legislation – which was signed by the President and passed into law on Jan. 16 — that guarantees back pay as soon as possible for federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown.

"I know that does not help in the moment, though, so please see below for some resources available to you during this difficult time."

Unemployment Benefits

Federal employees and federal contractor employees affected by the shutdown – both furloughed and working without pay – may apply for unemployment benefits in West Virginia through WorkForce West Virginia by visiting uc.workforcewv.org. Note that as a result of the shutdown, there may be delays in receiving benefits. For more information call 304-558-2611.

If you work for a government agency in another state, you will need to contact that state’s agency for information on filing a claim.

Banks & Credit Unions

It is important to be proactive and let your financial institutions know that you are affected by the shutdown before any problems arise. Many banks are offering personalized financial assistance for impacted federal workers. This can come in the form of term loans, payment extensions, loan modifications, or even waived late fees.

Bank of America: 844-219-0690; Chase: 888-356-0023; Community Bank of Parkersburg: 304-485-7991; Coast Guard ECU: 800-772-6163; Davis Trust Bank: 304-636-0991; FedChoice: 800-969-6151; Huntington National Bank: 800-480-2265; Mountain Valley Bank: 304-637-2265; Wells Fargo: 1-800-TO-WELLS; U.S. Employees Credit Union: 312-922-5310.

A number of federal credit unions are also offering low or interest-free lines of credits for impacted federal workers: BOPTI (800-397-9227): furlough extensions to existing members; Charleston FCU (304-347-3393): 1 percent “Fur-loans”; Dept. of Justice FCU (800-550-5328): special assistance loans up to $3,000, deferred loan payments and mortgage assistance; FAA FCU (800-346-0069): paycheck replacement loan and skip-a-payment fees waives; Interior FCU (800-914-8619): interest-free (for 30 days) line of credit up to $15,000, skip a payment services, and no penalties to withdraw funds; One Community FCU in Parkersburg (304-485-4066): Zero percent emergency loans to cover missed paychecks; SeaWest Coast Guard FCU (800-732-9378): Zero percent loans to cover deferred payroll deposits for members and qualifying non-members, as well as personal loans, skip payments, and can adjust due dates on most loans

Other Financial Assistance

The Federal Employee Education & Assistance (FEEA) – National Active & Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) Fund is offering $100 grants to active federal employee members who are not receiving a paycheck during the current shutdown. To apply, please complete the form at this link and attach your furlough notice: https://bit.ly/2FptX97

Discover has announced that federal workers may be eligible for assistance such as skipping a payment and having late fees and interest charges reversed if they miss a payment because of the shutdown. To request assistance, call 800-347-2683.

Nationwide is providing grace periods, extended due dates, and waiving certain fees for life insurance, retirement plans, and other services. Contact Nationwide at 877-668-6877.

Quicken Loans is waiving all late fees for clients who miss a mortgage payment due to the shutdown. For assistance call 800-508-0944 or email Help@QuickenLoans.com.

Electric & Gas Utilities

Utilities in West Virginia are willing to work with their customers who are employees of the federal government and are directly affected by the shutdown. Assistance may include flexible payment plans and other services.

Appalachian Power: 800-956-4237; Dominion: 866-366-4357; First Energy (Potomac Edison & Monongahela Power): 888-544-4877; Mountaineer Gas: 800-834-2070 

Food Assistance

February benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are being issued on Jan. 20th in West Virginia due to the shutdown.

The WV Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program will also remain open during the shutdown.

Berkeley County BackPack Program is available to help federal workers and their families by providing weekend bags of non-perishable to Berkeley County students through the schools. For short- and long-term food assistance or call 304-279-2142.

Community Combined Ministries’ Kidz Power Pacs also provides food for children to take home from school in both Berkeley and Jefferson counties and has encouraged families to reach out if they are in need. For more information, call 304-279-2142.

Mountaineer Food Bank, a nonprofit network that operates in 48 counties, will offer federal shutdown food assistance services to federal employees, federally contracted workers, and their families, and has already provided food for workers at the Beckley VA Medical Center and the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg. For more information, call 304-364-5518.

Hunger Free America has announced a “Fed Food” hotline to help anyone affected to locate free food at 855-859-4647.

A map of food banks and other resources can also be found at the following link: http://wvu.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=eb8012e7b2d843dbadca323a856575d8

Health Care

Employees in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program will be covered if their employer does not make payments to the program. The employee’s share of the FEHB premium will be withheld from pay after the shutdown ends.

West Virginia Health Right is offering assistance to federal employees to pay for prescriptions in the counties they serve. It will offer free prescriptions to any impacted federal workers that need assistance with medication costs. Anyone affected by the shutdown who needs temporary medication assistance should call 304-414-5922 for information.

Eli Lilly is offering support to customers struggling to afford insulin supplies during the shutdown. Customers can call the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center at 833-808-1234.

FamilyWize offers prescription savings cards to anyone in the U.S. with or without insurance, allowing workers to get the lowest possible prices on prescription medications at participating pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and RiteAid. Learn more and download a card at https://familywize.org.

HealthWarehouse.com is offering government employees up to 50% off prescription drugs. Call 800-748-7001. 

Wireless

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all announced that they will provide flexible payment options for customers affected by the shutdown

AT&T: www.att.com; Sprint: 888-211-4727; T-Mobile: 877-746-0909; Verizon: 866-266-1445

Additional Assistance

If you have been impacted by the shutdown, simply dial “2-1-1” to speak to a specialist that may be able to provide assistance. The 2-1-1 service will anchor United Way’s community support to federal workers and others affected by the shutdown. Additional information and resources can be found at this link: http://211.org/services/govshutdown 

— Email: wholdren@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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