ALERT
Federal programs ended

The CARES Act and other federal programs that expanded and extended unemployment benefits expired the week ending Sept. 4, 2021. Visit the COVID-19 page to learn more

Unemployment benefits

(en español)

IMPORTANT: The job search requirement is back. Visit the Job search requirements page for more information.

 

What are unemployment benefits?

Unemployment benefits provide you with temporary income when you lose your job through no fault of your own. The money partly replaces your lost earnings and helps you pay expenses while looking for new work. The benefits, from taxes your former employer(s) paid, are not based on financial need. While you receive benefits, your job is to get back to work as quickly as possible.


How to apply for unemployment benefits  

The best and fastest way to apply is online. You can apply by phone, but wait times are very long because of COVID-19. At this time, you cannot apply in person. The steps below will guide you through the process.

Get ready to apply

Before applying, gather information you’ll need. See Page 1 of the Unemployed Worker Handbook or visit the Have this information ready page.

Reasonable accommodation. Information on reasonable accommodation is available for unemployment-benefits customers with disabilities.


Step 1: Eligibility

If you're out of work and not sure if you're eligible for unemployment benefits, apply anyway. Complete the application as best you can, and we will follow up with you as soon as possible.


Step 2: Apply

We are experiencing extremely high call volumes. If possible, please apply online to save time and receive financial support fastest.

When applying, the system will time out after 15 minutes to protect your security. Apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We suggest you use a laptop or desktop computer—not a mobile device or tablet.

Need help? Check the eServices User Guide or technical support FAQs.


APPLY ONLINE NOW


Step 3: After you apply

We will notify you if your application has been approved and let you know how much money you will receive and what to do next. You will also be notified if you are not approved.

Other important information

  • Submit your weekly claims.
  • Report honestly.
  • Watch for and read any information we send you. If you chose to receive information via eServices, we will email you when there’s new information that requires your attention. This information may be time sensitive and affect your eligibility for benefits.
  • Sign up for direct deposit or a debit card to receive your weekly benefits faster and more securely.
  • Start your job search.
  • Read the Unemployed Worker Handbook to learn about the requirements.

Step 4: Look for work

Usually, people receiving unemployment benefits are required to look for work and document their search. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the governor, with support from the Legislature, suspended the job search requirement at the start of the pandemic. The suspension has been extended ever since.

With the economy recovering, the job search requirement is back. This means you will be required to look for work and document at least three approved job search activities each week in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.

When do job search requirements go back into effect?

  • Week of July 4 - Required to look for work to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • As of Aug. 8 – Required to enter the details of your job search activities when submitting your weekly claim online.
    • Important: Keep a record of your job search activities in case we ask to see them. You can use our job search log to make it easier.
Now hiring: See ESD's available jobs page at careers.wa.gov, and filter for Job Category “Insurance.”

Job-search requirements 

  

Get job-search assistance

WorkSource can help you improve your job-search skills, find your next job and plan your career path. 
  

WorkSource logo link to WorkSourceWA.com


Step 5: Weekly claim

After you are approved for unemployment benefits, you must submit a weekly claim for every week you wish to receive benefits. A weekly claim covers the prior week. For unemployment purposes, a week is Sunday through Saturday. You can’t claim for a week until it’s over.

  
SUBMIT ONLINE

The fastest way to submit your weekly claims is online, 24 hours day, seven days a week.  

Submit weekly claim

RESTART YOUR CLAIM
 
If you were approved for unemployment benefits within the past 12 months, but stopped claiming for a week or more for any reason, don't submit a new application. You can restart your claim this week, then begin filing weekly claims next week, as normal.

Login to restart