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Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 10:18am

Unemployment Claims Soar With Shutdown

Unemployment benefit applications from the area around Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins have more than doubled since the federal shutdown began Tuesday.

Georgia Department of Labor officials report similar spikes around Fort Benning in Columbus, Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Fort Gordon in Augusta, and Dobbins Air Force Base in Cobb County.

Thousands of civilian military employees are temporarily out of work. Workers at the Houston County Career Center report long lines as people come in to file claims.

Labor Department spokesman Sam Hall is urging those who can to fill out their applications online. "That would certainly help speed up the process," he said.

"[People applying for benefits] would eventually have to come down to their local career center in order to bring some additional information that has to be done with a federal employee claim for benefits," Hall said.

After filling out the initial application online, Hall said, federal employees will have to bring in a proof of earnings, such as a W-2 or most recent paycheck, a furlough letter from the employer, and an SF-8 (a form that identifies federal employers).

Georgia state law also requires proof of citizenship, such as a driver's license.

Labor Department employees are working extra hours to handle the influx, Hall said. "In the Warner Robins area our staff are coming earlier in the morning and staying after office hours in order to do the behind the scene's processing, and so far we're managing to keep pretty much up to pace with that," he said.

Most people should start getting their benefits about a week after they finish their paperwork, Hall said.