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Unemployment benefits

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 not in person. At this time, you cannot apply in person. The steps below will guide you through the process.

Get ready to apply

Before applying, gather information you’ll need. Visit the Have this information ready webpage or see page 1 of the Unemployed Worker Handbook.

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, apply anyway. Complete the application as best you can, and we will follow up with you as soon as possible.

• Learn more about basic eligibility requirements.  

Step 2: Apply

If possible, please apply online to save time and receive financial support fastest.

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—our application is not designed for mobile devices at this time.

Need help? Check our:


Step 3: After you apply

We process claims as quickly as possible. We will notify you if your application has been approved or not approved. We also will let you know how much money you will receive and what to do next. 


  • Submit a claim each week you would like to receive benefits. Report honestly.
  • Respond quickly to any requests for information we send you. 
  • Sign up for direct deposit or a debit card to receive your weekly benefits faster and more securely.
  • Start your job search.

Read the Unemployed Worker Handbook to learn more about your requirements.

Step 4: Look for work

You are required to look for work and document your search when receiving unemployment benefits.

Job-search requirements 

Now hiring: See ESD's available jobs page at careers.wa.gov, and filter for Job Category “Insurance.”

Get job-search assistance

WorkSource can help you improve your job-search skills, find your next job and plan your career path. 

WorkSource logo link to WorkSourceWA.com

Step 5: Weekly claim

After you submit your unemployment benefits application, 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.


The fastest way to submit your weekly claims is online, 24 hours day, seven days a week.  

Submit weekly 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


If you are losing your health coverage or are unemployed, you may be eligible for health plans on Washington Healthplanfinder. Find more information and free help.


Additional benefit information