How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits
Washington Unemployment Benefits
Because the funds for unemployment benefits will not run out, you do not have to file right away to avoid missing out. When people are approved, they will be paid the full amount for which they are eligible and they will be paid retroactive to the date of their eligibility. Funds are generally taking 7-10 days to arrive, or as little as 24-48 hours with direct deposit.
Please be sure to check www.esd.wa.gov first before calling/sending in a note with your questions because many questions have already been answered there.
The Fastest Way to Apply
The fastest way to apply is online. If you have computer access, you are encouraged to apply online. While you can file by phone, you should expect long wait times. There are no in-person unemployment offices in Washington State.
Try these tips to improve your ability to apply on-line:
- Apply during off-peak hours (9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) or try again later in the week – once approved benefits are retroactive to your date of eligibility.
- Use a computer or laptop if you can, as smart phones are experiencing technical difficulties in the application process.
- Only try reloading twice in 10 minutes. If you don’t get through wait 2 hours before trying again.
- Following the steps below before you apply can help make your application process as smooth as possible.
Watch These Two Videos to Avoid Common Issues That Could Delay Your Benefits
What You Need Before You Apply
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Creating A Secure Access Washington (SAW) Account
If you do not already have a SAW account. Close captions available.
Helpful Webinar: Introduction to Unemployment Insurance
Due to the continued high demand for unemployment benefits, we are offering a new option for customers to learn more about setting up a Secure Access Washington (SAW) account and submitting a claim for benefits online. To respect individual confidentiality, it is important to point out that this is not an opportunity to answer questions about individual or personal situations.
This webinar will be conducted using WebEx. For issues connecting to the webinar, contact WebEx Support. We can not provide technical assistance.
- Setting up a SAW account,
- Filing a new UI Claim,
- Guidance on standby and work search requirements,
- General UI requirements and information,
- Services and programs offered through the WorkSource Offices.
Apply for Regular Unemployment Benefits
Apply for Unemployment Benefits
It’s a big shock to lose your job, but how you react makes all the difference. The first step is to apply for unemployment benefits. The fastest way to apply is online at esd.wa.gov (24 hours a day).
You also can apply by phone at 800-318-6022 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If You Are Denied for Regular Unemployment, Apply for Expanded Unemployment Benefits
Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Answers to Common Questions
Self-employed or Independent Contractor?
Get Started on Filing Your Claim
Employment Security Department
Click here for information on Unemployment Insurance Benefits for the Self-Employed or Independent Contractors and to start your application.
After You Apply for UI Benefits, you will receive an Unemployment Claim Determination
Review your wages and hours carefully. If information is wrong, call the claims center at 800-318-6022 (Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. except holidays. People with hearing or speaking impairments can call Washington Relay Service 711) to request a correction.
The statement shows your:
- Weekly benefit amount and your maximum benefits payable – these numbers represent the most you may receive in a week and total amount potentially available on your claim
- Employers you worked for, and the wages and hours they reported each quarter for you in the base year of your claim
- Your benefit year begin and end dates – you can only claim benefits on this claim for weeks falling between these dates
- Whether this statement is an initial determination or a redetermination
Your Washington unemployment benefit claim is available for one year, which is 52 weeks from the week you applied. This 52-week period is called your benefit year. You cannot file another new Washington claim until that year is over. Most claims receive between 13 to 26 weeks of benefits.
The Unemployment Claim Determination also may provide other information about your claim, such as a message letting you know that you don’t have a valid claim since you have less than 680 hours in your base year and that you may qualify for an alternate base year claim or information letting you know we are requesting wages and hours from your former employers.
Submit a Weekly Claim or Restart a Claim
Frequently Asked Questions About UI
For more information about how Unemployment Insurance works click the button below.