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 fastest way to apply for benefits is online. While you can file by phone, you should expect extended wait times. There are no in-person unemployment offices in Washington state. Even if you go to a WorkSource office, you will still be directed to apply for unemployment benefits online or by phone. These steps will help guide you through the process.
- Now hiring: Employment Security is hiring additional staff in claims center operations. See ESD's available jobs page at careers.wa.gov, and filter for Job Category “Insurance.”
- Webinar: We have launched a new daily webinar to learn more about setting up a Secure Access Washington (SAW) account and submitting a claim for benefits online. Learn more on the webinar page.
- Dealing with fraud: We take fraud seriously. Misrepresenting or knowingly withholding information is considered fraud and you may be denied benefits for future weeks, have to pay back benefits you have received, and be subject to additional penalties.
Step 1: Eligibility | Step 2: Apply online or by phone | Step 3: After you apply | Step 4: Look for work | Step 5: File a weekly claim or reopen a claim | Additional benefit information
If you're out of work, and not sure if you're eligible for unemployment benefits, please use the links below for information about your possible eligibility.
- If you were laid off as a result of COVID-19, you are likely eligible. See the COVID-19 page for details about changes to eligibility.
- Before applying, download the unemployment application checklist to prepare.
- If you are unsure of your eligibility after reading the guides below, apply anyway. Complete the application as best you can and we will follow up with you as soon as possible.
Apply online 24 hours a day, seven days a week with eServices. It’s much faster. You must use a laptop or desktop computer for this initial step—not a mobile device.
Don’t have a computer? Stop by your local library or WorkSource center to use a computer.
To use eServices, you must:
- Sign in to eServices with a SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account. If you established a SAW account for WorkSourceWA.com or another state service, you can use that same user name and password. If not, follow the instructions to create a new SAW account.
- Confirm the computer or mobile device you are using the first time you sign in or whenever you use a new device.
A confirmation page appears when you successfully submit an application. You also will receive verification by email, if you gave us your email address and permission to correspond with you.
We are experiencing extremely high call volumes.
Please consider applying online through eServices for the quickest result.
The claims center number at 800-318-6022 will be open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (except holidays) as follows:
- Monday: New applications for those with Social Security numbers ending in 0-3. Open only for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.
- Tuesday: New applications for those with Social Security numbers ending in 0-6. Open for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.
- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: Everyone (Social Security numbers ending in 0-9) can submit new applications. Open for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.
We are experiencing extremly high call volume and longer than normal wait times.
Please consider these resources before calling:
- Technical support for eServices
- Join a webinar
- eServices User Guide
- Handbook for unemployed workers
- COVID-19 Page
Claim center agents are available to answer your questions over the phone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday (except holidays).
Find out when you can apply for unemployment benefits by phone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday-Friday.
SCHEDULE A CALLBACK
If you want to schedule a specific day and time for someone from the Claims Center to call you back, please go to our Schedule a Callback page.
- Read the Handbook for unemployed workers (PDF, 3MB). You're responsible for knowing the requirements and following the rules.
- You can find one online;
- You can pick a printed copy from your nearest WorkSource center; or
- You may request one by calling the claims center at 800-318-6022 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday or Friday except holidays.
- Report honestly
- Watch for and read any information we send you. If you chose to receive information via eServices, we will send you an email notifying you when you have new information that requires your attention. This information may be time sensitive and affect your eligibility for benefits.
- Sign up for either direct deposit or debit card to receive your weekly benefits faster and in a secure manner.
- Start your job search right away and document it. (See step 4)
- Submit your weekly claims (See step 5)
This service may not be available when call volume is extremely high. Please consider using eServices to file your weekly claim.