During shutdown, these Philly places are offering freebies for the furloughed

Fred Jennings, 67, holds a placard stating "NEED TO WORK" while gathering with area elected officials and furloughed federal workers at a rally in front of Independence Hall on Jan. 8, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo credit Mark Makela/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With the government shutdown now in its fourth week, bills are beginning to pile up for many furloughed federal workers. 

As a way to ease the burden, many local and national companies are displaying a willingness to be flexible, offering payment plans, free admission to area museums and more to accumulate some shutdown savings for however long the government remains partially closed.


Energy companiesPECO is making sure affected customers "stay energized" through the shutdown.

Workers can apply for PECO and PGW's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which secures grants while money is still available. You can apply through April 19. Call 1-866-857-7095 for more information.

There's also the Customer Assistance Program (CAP), a monthly credit for eligible, low-income customers. It is based on the customer's total household gross income and energy usage. 

PECO customers can also receive a 21-day hold on their accounts if they are not currently 30 days behind on bills. Anyone who is 30 days behind can still get a collection hold, but for 16 days. Call 1-800-774-7040.

Those unaffected by the shutdown can help their friends who are through the PECO Gift of Energy program, in which anyone can make a payment toward a friend or family member's energy bill. 

Atlantic City Electric is also offering assistance in South Jersey through LIHEAP.

"We do have a budget billing program for customers to make their payments easier to budget month-to-month," said Atlantic City Electric spokesman Frank Tedesco. "We have payment arrangements available for our customers as well."

Atlantic City Electric offers a number of other programs, including the Universal Service Fund, New Jersey SHARES, and the Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric (PAGE), which appears to be a good fit for the furloughed. It helps people with low to moderate income who are going through a temporary financial crisis.  

New Jersey customers of Public Service Electric and Gas Company can also call customer service to discuss their financial situations during the shutdown. PSE&G may allow 60-day grace periods. Call 1-800-510-3102 or 211.

"The federal government shutdown is a reminder of circumstances in which our customers can face financial hardships. During the 60-day period, customer accounts will be locked and protected from shut off," said Greg Dunlap, PSE&G vice president of customer operations.

AT&TCustomers affected by the shutdown are eligible for flexible payment options. AT&T will adjust late fees, provide extensions and coordinate revised payment schedules.

T-MobileT-Mobile is offering flexible payment options to spread payments over time, as well as payment deferral. Call T-Mobile Customer Care at 1-877-746-0909.

SprintShort-term payment plans are available by calling 888-211-4727.

"Our Care reps will coordinate with qualified customers and our financial team to find a payment option that works and keep your service uninterrupted during the government shutdown," said Michel Combes, Sprint CEO, in a statement.

Verizon Verizon will waive late fees for federal employees for the duration of the shutdown. The Promise to Pay program allows you to set a future date for a payment. 


Philadelphia Museum of ArtWith a government ID, you can get a free ticket to the museum, plus an additional one for a friend. The deal lasts through the duration of the shutdown. Kids 12 and younger are always free.

Museum of the American RevolutionThe museum is open during the shutdown, and federal workers can take up to three guests for free to the museum for the remainder of the shutdown. A government ID must be shown at the front desk.

A hands-on exhibit, "Hamilton Was Here: Rising Up in Revolutionary Philadelphia," is currently on display through March 17.

The Academy of Natural SciencesThe museum is offering pay-as-you-wish admission for employees with a government ID. The offer is valid for up to four people in a party. The rate is available until Jan. 31 or until the government reopens.

Eastern State PenitentiaryFederal employees will receive $2 off of their admission when they purchase tickets online using the code "OPENINPHL." General admission is $14 without the discount, $12 for seniors, $10 for students, and $10 for children ages 7 to 12.

The Franklin InstituteFor the duration of the shutdown, federal workers get into the museum for free with an ID, plus up to three free additional guests.

Its current exhibit, "Vikings: Beyond the Legend," as well as all IMAX films, are available for an additional fee.

Please Touch MuseumFederal workers will receive $5 off of their admission to the museum. Children under the age of 1 can enter for free. Admission for adults and children 1 and older is $19 without the discount.

The museum's current exhibit, "Cents & Sensibility," explores how to earn, save, spend and share money.

Longwood GardensAdmission is free for furloughed workers and up to three guests through the remainder of the shutdown. Employees must show a valid government ID.

Longwood's Orchid Extravaganza will be on view from Jan. 19 through March 24. The gardens are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Philly POPS Big BandFurloughed workers with a government-issued ID can receive a pair of tickets to "Jazzed! The Philly POPS Big Band with Terell Stafford." The show pays tribute to jazz of the '40s and '50s in Philly, along with guest vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. Shows take place Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m., or Jan. 19 and 20 at 3 p.m.

Walnut Street TheatreThe theater is offering two free tickets to government workers to Ken Ludwig's "A Comedy of Tenors" through Jan. 27. To take advantage of its furloughed federal workers' promotion, call 215-574-3550, ext. 1.

Morris ArboretumExplore the 92 acres of Morris Arboretum for free with a government ID. Workers' families can also get in for free. (It may not be the ideal time to stop and smell the roses, but at least it's free.)

University of Pennsylvania MuseumGeneral admission is free for government workers with a valid ID and up to five of their family members. The museum's Middle East galleries recently opened, showcasing "10,000 years of human history," including a Mesopotamian queen's jewelry, one of the world’s oldest wine vessels, and an ancient spreadsheet.

Independence Seaport MuseumEmployees of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Park Service will receive free admission to the museum, as well as all other employees affected by the shutdown. A valid government ID equates to free admission for you and up to three guests.

Pineville TavernFor those looking for a more tangible (and tasty) deal, Pineville Tavern — both in Bucks County and Fishtown — is offering free chicken dinners for furloughed workers until the shutdown is over. The offer is valid every night of the week for U.S. employees and their immediate family members, and they can take advantage of the pickle-brined fried chicken as often as they'd like.

The original Pineville Tavern is located at 1089 Durham Road in Pineville. Pineville Fishtown is located at 2448 E. Huntingdon St.

Morris Animal RefugeEven for furloughed workers' furry friends affected by the shutdown, Morris Animal Refuge is offering assistance for those who need pet supplies.

Email emellis@morrisanimalrefuge.org for more details.

Gregory's Restaurant and BarFederal workers can get free tacos on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Gregory's during the shutdown. The restaurant is located at 900 Shore Road, Somers Point, New Jersey.


Navy Federal Credit UnionNavy Federal customers who use direct deposit can register for its government shutdown loan program, which includes a 0.00 percent APR. The loan amount is based on the direct deposit of pay that was previously processed.

The loan is good for 60 days or however long the shutdown lasts.

Congressional Federal Credit UnionDuring the 2013 government shutdown, more than 600 congressional federal members received furlough relief loans, according to the credit union, which totaled more than than $1.5 million. Current furloughed employees can apply for a relief line of credit, which is interest-free for 60 days. Call 800-491-2328 for other loans options.

U.S. Employees Credit UnionThe U.S. Employees Credit Union may provide assistance in the form of government shutdown loans to members who have direct deposit. The loans are interest-free (0.00 percent APR) for up to 60 days. The loan is repaid in 60 days or whenever the "government processes back pay, whichever is sooner."

U.S. BankQualified federal employees can apply for a $100 to $6,000 low-rate, quick loan through the U.S. Bank. It is available to customers with any U.S. Bank product, including mortgage and auto loans or U.S. Bank credit cards. 

“We understand the financial pressure that many of our customers who serve our nation are now facing and we're here to help,” said Andy Cecere, chairman, president and CEO of U.S. Bank, in a statement.

Call its government shutdown service line at 877-760-6046.

Other unemployment benefitsAccording to the U.S. Office of Personal Management, some federal employees may be eligible for unemployment claims. Those affected by the shutdown may apply to see if they are eligible on or after the first day they are furloughed. The state where you file the claim will determine your eligibility. 

Feds, here are sample letters you may use as a guide when working with your creditors during this furlough. If you need legal advice please consult with your personal attorney. https://t.co/t6h6OzALsS

— OPM (@USOPM) December 27, 2018


Bank of AmericaThe bank offers personalized financial assistance during the shutdown. Call 844-219-0690.

ChaseChase is asking its customers who are affected to call its care line at 1-888-356-0023. It offers hardship programs and waives monthly service fees.

A statement reads: "Chase will waive or refund the affected fees from December 24 through January 4 or until the shutdown ends – whichever is sooner."

Wells FargoCall 1-800-TO-WELLS for help with payment assistance programs. The bank says it "will work with individuals and business banking customers whose income is disrupted as a result of the shutdown."

DiscoverAffected federal workers who are card members or have a loan with Discover Bank may apply for assistance like skipping a payment or reversing late fees if they miss payments because of the shutdown. Call for help at 1-800-DISCOVER.

TD BankThe TD Cares Payment Assistance Program offers late-fee refunds on credit cards; loan assistance for mortgage, home equity, auto or personal loan payments; small business loans; and loans of up to $1,000 of additional funds not currently available in your account, for those in good standing. There are no overdraft fees.


KYW Newsradio's Rachel Kurland and Paul Kurtz contributed to this report.