Only workers who have been furloughed, or deemed nonessential to their departments, can actually apply for unemployment benefits.
Employees who are "excepted" — meaning they must continue performing their typical job duties without compensation until the shutdown ends — are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits, as they are entitled to payment for the hours they've worked.
On Wednesday, Jan. 16, President Donald Trump signed legislation that guaranteed all furloughed workers would be paid once the government reopens. The bill also mandates that employees in the same situation in possible future shutdowns will also get back pay. The House and Senate cleared the bill last week. It does not specifically state when employees will see any money, only that they will be paid as soon as possible once the shutdown ends.