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Unemployment benefits

What are unemployment benefits?
Unemployment benefits are made available through taxes paid by your former employer(s) to partially replace your regular earnings and help you meet expenses while you look for another job. These benefits are intended to assist workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are not based on financial need. While receiving benefits, it’s your responsibility to get back to work as quickly as you can.
   
Orient yourself with the online services we provide by visiting our UI customer service one-stop page.
   
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.
  
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
  
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.
 
 
 
Step 2:
Apply online or by phone
 
Whether you apply online or by phone, be sure to have the necessary information ready before you start. Both systems will "time out" after a short period to protect the security of your personal information.
 
 
APPLY ONLINE
 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Answer questions to verify your identity. You’ll only need to do this the first time you sign in. Don’t rush through the questions. If you answer incorrectly, the system will not recognize you. This added layer of security is designed to prevent identity thieves from accessing your account.
  3. 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. 

APPLY BY PHONE
 
1-800-318-6022

We take applications by phone 8 a.m to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays only except on holidays.  
Applying online is much faster. If you call, be prepared for long wait times.  

Note: 
Applying for unemployment benefits later in the week will not delay benefit payments.
 
Step 3:
After you apply
 
You will receive an Unemployment claim determination letting you know if you are eligible for benefits and how much you will receive. Please let us know immediately if you find errors.
 
 
Important
  • 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.
  • Consider signing up for 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)
      
 
Step 4:
Look for work
 
Unless we tell you otherwise, you must look for a job and keep a written record of your job search efforts.  You also must respond quickly if we ask to see these records.
  

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.  Read the results of a study to learn how well WorkSource works!

WorkSource logo link to WorkSourceWA.com

        
    Step 5:
    Submit a weekly claim or restart a claim
     
    After you apply for unemployment benefits, you must submit a weekly claim for every week you wish to receive benefits. Your weekly claim covers the prior week. For unemployment purposes, a week runs from Sunday through Saturday – you cannot claim for the week until it is over.
     
     
    SUBMIT ONLINE
     
    After you apply for unemployment benefits, you must submit a weekly claim online for every week you wish to receive benefits. You can submit your weekly claims online 24 hours a day, seven days a week on any device.

     
    SUBMIT BY PHONE

    1-800-318-6022
    If you have hearing or speaking impairments, you can call Washington Relay Service 711.
    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.
     
    More:
    Additional benefit information