Strategies that work
We know applying for unemployment can be confusing. Many questions are answered on our website. The information in the Unemployed Worker Handbook also provides helpful information about unemployment insurance, how to apply, and eligibility.
When you speak to an agent, please keep in mind that no two situations are the same. The claims agents can assist in answering general questions and taking claims; however, they are unable to provide an eligibility decision over the phone. Often, more information is needed to make a decision. The best way to know if you are eligible is to apply.
If you have access to, and are comfortable with, using a computer to apply for benefits, the easiest way to apply and file your weekly claims is with eServices, Employment Security Department’s secure website. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With your help, our claims agents can focus on resolving issues and helping Washingtonians who do not have access to the internet or have a complex issue the requires our intervention.
Filing a weekly claim?
We process hundreds of thousands of weekly claims each week, which can lead to site slowdowns if too many people are trying to log-in at once. Here are four things that will help everyone get the assistance they need:
- File a different day. This is a big ask, but it will help a neighbor in need: If you can afford to wait a couple extra days to get paid, please file after Monday. This will allow those who need the benefit most to file and get paid first.
- File late at night, or early in the morning. You can file online 24/7 at Employment Security - Login (wa.gov) and by phone from 12:01 a.m. Sunday to 4 p.m. Friday.
- Try submitting on the phone in off-hours. Submit your weekly claim via automated phone system before 6 a.m. or after 6 p.m. (800-318-6022)
- Reasonable accommodation. Information on reasonable accommodation is available for unemployment-benefits customers with disabilities.
Tips to find what you are looking for
- Apply online:The fastest way to access benefits is to apply online. We have updated our website to make it easier to use. Employment Security - Login (wa.gov)
- Be prepared:Before you apply, read the instructions so you have the information needed when you are ready to apply, and watch our training videos. This will help you complete your application and speed up processing times. ESDWAGOV - Introduction to Unemployment Insurance - Public Webinar
- Search the website:Call volumes and wait-times can be high. Utilizing our website to find answers to your questions can save you time. The Unemployment page is a great place to start.
- You will get paid: After your application is approved, you will get paid for all the time you qualify for. When you apply, start your claim from the date you lost your job.
Phone strategies that work
We're committed to helping you. If you must speak to a claims agent, these tips might help.
- Our phones are extremely busy.. Call volumes are currently the highest when we open at 8 a.m. and again from noon to 2:00 pm. If the agent is unable to answer your question you will be offered the opportunity for a call back. Most often these are scheduled the next business day.
- We process claims in the afternoons, evenings and on weekends.
- For current claims center contact information and hours go to: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployed-workers-contact
Pages that help
- Unemployment page: Helpful links can be found in the left side Quick Links menu (found at the top of the page on mobile devices)
- COVID-19 information: Answers to frequently asked questions about our response to COVID-19
- Technical support: If you are having trouble signing in or need to recover your account, this page can help.
- eServices user guide: For help navigating in eServices, this guide can help.
- Free webinar: Join us for a free webinar to learn how to apply, how to submit a weekly claim, and more.