Unemployment benefits

Affected by COVID-19

  • The federal CARES Act expands unemployment benefits to people affected by COVID-19. If you are not eligible for regular unemployment, learn more about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance here:

Self-employed and independent contractors

Learn more

Sick, or caring for a family member?

Learn more

Lost work or part-time worker?

Learn more

Returning to work

Please visit the Return to work page for a range of resources for workers and employers.

The Refusal of work page responds to questions about an employee not returning to their job, as well as potential employer responses.


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, download the unemployment application checklist to prepare.

Download Checklist

 

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, please use the eligibility checker for information about your possible eligibility.

  • If you were laid off as a result of COVID-19, you are likely eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
  • If you are unsure of your eligibility after completing the checklist, apply anyway. Complete the application as best you can and we will follow up with you as soon as possible.

Check eligibility


Step 2: Apply

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

Before you start applying online, gather the required documents.

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 optional job search.
  • Read the Unemployed Worker Handbook to learn about the requirements.

Exhausted regular unemployment benefits? The federal CARES Act can help. After April 18, when you see the alert in eServices called "PEUC claim", click it and apply. If you are eligible, your benefits will be extended 13 weeks.


Step 4: Look for work (optional)

Usually, people receiving unemployment benefits are required to look for work and document their search. This requirement is now optional due to COVID-19. This change started March 8, 2020, and will continue until further notice.


Many employers are still hiring, even now, so we encourage anyone who has lost work to continue searching.

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.”

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: 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