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.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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 take applications by phone 8 a.m to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays only except on holidays.
Note: Applying for unemployment benefits later in the week will not delay benefit payments.
Claim center agents answer your questions over the phone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You can apply for unemployment benefits by phone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays only (excluding holidays).
Claim center agents handle electronic correspondence and other work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please call on the above scheduled dates.
- 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)