COVID-19 (coronavirus) Weekly claim questions
Important information (updated Sept. 7, 2021)
- Typically, you do not get paid for the first week you are eligible for unemployment benefits. This is called the waiting week.
Various state and federal laws effectively waived the unpaid waiting week, starting in March 2020, because the federal government was paying for the first week of benefits. However, the last week the federal government will pay for the first week of benefits is the week ending Sept. 4, 2021.
As a result, the waiting week will be reinstated starting with the week ending Sept. 11, 2021, which means:
- If you apply for a new regular unemployment insurance claim during or after the week ending Sept. 11, 2021: The waiting week will be in effect and you will not get paid for the first week you are eligible for unemployment benefits;
- If you are currently claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits and are being moved to a regular unemployment insurance claim: If your first eligible week on the new claim is the week ending Sept. 11, 2021, or after, the waiting week will be in effect. This means you will not get paid for the first week you are eligible for unemployment benefits.
- Filing online will be faster than by phone. We are experiencing an extremely high call volume due to increased demand, and many customers are not able to get through.
- In addition to the regular unemployment weekly claim questions below, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants must answer additional questions to certify eligibility for benefits. This is a federal law requirement.
Questions we ask on your weekly claim
The questions we ask when you file your weekly claim are the same whether you file online or by phone.
- Were you physically able and available for work each day?
If you are unemployed as a result of COVID-19 because of business closures or you are at a high-risk of contracting COVID-19 and have been advised to self-quarantine, you should still answer “Yes” to this question.
- Did you make an active search for work, as directed, during the week you are now claiming?
- Unless your request for standby has been approved, receiving unemployment benefits requires you to actively look for work.
Here are some suggestions to aid in you filling your job search requirement during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Apply for jobs through WorkSourceWA.com.
- Submit applications through search engines such as Indeed, CareerBuilder and Monster, to name a few.
- Calling employers you know are hiring about potential jobs.
- Completing available virtual workshops provided by WorkSource.
- Note: The jobs you apply for must be ones you have prior experience, training, or education. This is defined as suitable work.
- We will take into consideration any efforts made to complete the job search requirements when determining weekly unemployment eligibility.
- If you answer "yes" to the question about an active search for work and you are not excused from your job-search requirements, you will be asked an additional question. You must certify that you made the appropriate number of employer contacts or in-person activities each week (at WorkSource or at an American Job Center in another state), and that you recorded this information on your job-search log.
- Out-of-state claimants also must be prepared to record job-search contacts for each week claimed.
- For employer contacts, you will be required to provide the following items from your job-search log for each contact made: the date; the business name and complete address; business phone number or email; how the contact was made; the person you contacted; and the type of work you were seeking.
- For in-person activities (at WorkSource or at an American Job Center in another state), you will be required to provide the following from your job-search log for each activity: the date, the office and a description of the activity.
- Did you refuse any offer of work or fail to go for a scheduled job interview?
- Have you applied for or received workers’ or crime victim’s compensation?*
- Have you applied for or did you have a change in pension?*
- Did you or will you receive holiday pay from your regular employer for any day of the week you are claiming?*
- Did you or will you receive vacation pay for any day of the week you are claiming?*
- Did you or will you receive pay in lieu of notice or termination pay for any day of the week you are claiming?*
- Did you serve on a jury?*
- Did you perform duty in the Military Reserve or National Guard for more than 72 consecutive hours?*
- Did you work in self-employment?*
- Did you work for any employer last week?*
* Report earnings for the week in which you earned them, not in the week you received them. Report the total amount before deductions. For self-employment, report your net earnings. You also will be asked for the total hours or days for which you had earnings.
Earnings Deduction Chart
To help you determine how much will be deducted from your weekly claim, you can download the current Earnings Deduction chart.
If you worked during the week be ready to provide:
- The amount you earned that week, even if you haven’t actually been paid yet. (Earnings include all compensation you earned for personal services, including wages, commissions and bonuses, the cash value of compensation paid in any medium other than cash, and the reasonable value of tips.)
- How many hours you worked in the week.
- Your employer’s business name.
- Your employer’s complete business address.
- The date you started work this week.
After entering your earnings
You will be asked, "Do you expect to be working for the same employer next week?" If you answer no, you must indicate the reason:
- Lack of work
For example, that employer closed or reduced staff due to loss of business or public health directive during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Reduced hours due to a lack of work
- Being fired
- You quit
- Some other reason
Did you have any other reportable earnings?
If you are not sure your earnings are reportable, see the list below from pages 27-28 in the Handbook for Unemployed Workers (PDF, 2.9MB).
When you complete your answers, the system will speak or display the message, "Your claim has been accepted."
Reportable earnings include:
- Net income from your own business.
- In-kind payments that substitute for money, such as rent or room and board.
- Bonuses attributed to work performed in that week.
- Tips in any form.
- Paid vacation, holidays and sick leave.
- Military Reserve and National Guard pay if you worked more than three days in a row.
- Pay for jury duty service.
- Earnings from state work study (does not include Title IV funds).
- Pay from an employer, such as back pay (including back pay from a time-loss or workers’ compensation claim) for weeks you claimed.
If you make a mistake on your weekly claim
If you make a mistake while filing your weekly claim, you may start over any time before you hear or see, "Your claim has been accepted." In most cases, you will have the opportunity to correct mistakes while submitting your claim.
If you discover your mistake after submitting your weekly claim, you’ll need to call and speak to a claims agent. Call 800-318-6022 to correct the error. For current claims center contact information and hours go to: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployed-workers-contact
Failing to call the claims center to correct your error could result in an overpayment and your benefits being denied.
These questions are the COVID-19 reasons that make someone eligible for PUA. Answer the questions honestly. They are required by the CARES Act and claims may be audited by the U.S. Department of Labor. If you no longer qualify for PUA, you may be eligible to reapply for regular unemployment benefits.
These questions pertain only to the week that you are claiming. They are in addition to the UI weekly claim questions. They are yes or no questions. Our COVID-19 unemployment guide provides more information about answering these questions.
If you submit your PUA weekly claim electronically using eServices, you can answer these eligibility questions online. If you submit your claim using our automated phone system, we will send you a questionnaire that you must fill out and return immediately. We must receive your responses and process your answers for you to be considered eligible for PUA. We may pay your benefits conditionally while we are waiting for your response, but if we do not receive your answers to the questionnaire, you will have to pay us back. The questions may vary slightly if you submit your weekly claim by phone. We strongly recommend filing your PUA weekly claim in eServices if possible.