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Unemployment Benefits In Washington State

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What Is The Procedure For Filing For Unemployment Benefits

Thousands waiting for unemployment benefits in Washington state

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be out of work due to circumstances beyond your control.

Unemployment benefits can be applied online through ESDs eServices page, which can be found here.

Remember that you should only apply for unemployment benefits at this time if you were already eligible before the CARES Act was passed in December of 2009.

If you werent eligible until that time , the ESD system is not currently configured to accept your application.

Youll need to sign up for the ESDs COVID-19 email updates in order to be notified when the system is updated and you can submit an application. The completion of this update is expected around the middle of April.

Beginning on the date that the unemployment program was established and you became eligible for unemployment benefits, your weekly benefits will be paid out in installments.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which broadened the scope of who is eligible for unemployment benefits, began operations on March 29, 2020. This means that if you have to wait until the middle of April to apply, you will not lose any weekly benefits.

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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Initial Claims In Washington


Data in this graph are copyrighted. Please review the copyright information in the series notes before sharing.

Units: Number, Not Seasonally Adjusted

Frequency: Weekly, Ending Saturday


An initial claim is a claim filed by an unemployed individual after a separation from an employer.The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a program that temporarily expanded unemployment insurance eligibility to self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors and part-time workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This program was established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which expanded states’ ability to provide unemployment insurance to many workers affected by COVID-19, including people who aren’t ordinarily eligible for unemployment benefits.

Suggested Citation:

U.S. Employment and Training Administration, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Initial Claims in Washington , retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PUAICWA, July 22, 2022.

Q I Applied For Unemployment Benefits And Was Denied But I Believe Esd Was Wrong To Deny My Claim What Should I Do

A. Always file again when youre denied*. You will be assigned a hearing to appeal your case in front of a judge. There is no fee and no penalty if you end up withdrawing the appeal. Notify the judge in writing if your issue is resolved otherwise it may be very difficult to get another hearing.

*The ESD is recommending that you do not appeal a denial of standby unless your issue is complicated, or the standby designation will affect your access to benefits.

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Workers Concerned About Workplace Conditions Have Options To Report

Workers are encouraged to engage employers directly to resolve any identified safety concerns. To report safety violations, workers have two options:

How Unemployment Works In Washington

Wa Unemployment Claim Year Start Date

And How To Get Unemployment in Washington

  • Apply for Washington unemployment as soon as you are out of work. You can only file an application online through the Washington unemployment website or over the phone.
  • If you meet Washington unemployment eligibility standards, you are on your way to getting compensation. You should hear back from the state unemployment agency within several days to two weeks.
  • If you meet Washington unemployment benefits eligibility, you are entitled to receive funds. Washington unemployment compensation ranges between $169 and $713 per week.
  • If you do not meet Washington unemployment qualifications and your claim is rejected, you have the right to an appeals hearing. This takes place over the phone, and gives you the opportunity to state your case.
  • The Washington unemployment department mandates that you have a one-week waiting period after your claim has been accepted. This means that you will begin getting your funds two weeks after you file.
  • After your benefits begin, you will be required to show proof of job searching, which is done online or over the phone by submitting a Washington unemployment weekly claim.
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    Circumstances Leading To Fraud

    Within weeks of the governors stay-at-home orders, the numbers of unemployed people and applications for unemployment benefits rose sharply. In one week in late March, unemployment insurance claims reached more than 180,000. As a comparison, weekly claims in 2019 exceeded 10,000 only four times all year.

    Two specific directives in the federal CARES Act contributed to fraudulent claims in Washington:

    • Self-certification of employment
    • Required backdating of claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds

    Furthermore, the CARES Act gave states a financial incentive to eliminate the one-week waiting period for regular unemployment benefits. The audit found that waiving the waiting week in Washington likely was not a key factor affecting the number of fraudulent claimants that received benefit payments. It did, however, likely affect the dollar value of fraudulent payments made by ESD.

    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 paid, are not based on financial need. While you receive benefits, your job is to get back to work as quickly as possible.

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    Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Ended

    The CARES Act and other federal programs that expanded and extended unemployment benefits expired the week ending Sept. 4, 2021. Visit ESD’s COVID-19 info page to learn more.

    The best and fastest way to apply for unemployment benefits is online. You can also apply by phone, but wait times are very long. You can also join online webinars that provide more information about unemployment insurance.

    Follow lni.wa.gov, esd.wa.gov, and coronavirus.wa.gov/news for the most up-to-date information.

    How To File Weekly Claims

    Your Money, Your Future: Extended unemployment benefits in Washington state

    You must file a weekly certification to begin receiving benefits. You must then submit a claim for each week that you want to receive benefits. You can file a claim online or by telephone.

    • If you are filing online, file between Sunday 12:00 a.m. to Saturday 11:59 p.m.
    • If you are filing by phone, use the automated system or speak to representatives at the Department

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    What Washington Unemployment Eligibility Requirements Must I Meet

    To receive unemployment benefits in Washington you must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

    • Worked in the state of WA in the last 18 monthsIf you did not work in Washington within the last 18 months, you should file your unemployment insurance claim in the state where you worked. One exception to this rule is individuals who were in the military or held a job with the federal government.
    • Worked enough hours in your base yearA base year is a span of time used to determine your benefit eligibility and benefit amount. It is the first four out of the previous five calendar quarters before the week you apply for benefits. So, if you apply for benefits on January 1, 2017 ESD will look at your earnings in October 2015 through September 2016. You need to have worked at least 680 hours during your base year to be eligible for benefits.

    Learn How To Qualify For Unemployment In Washington State

    Find Washington Unemployment Requirements Information

    Learning how to qualify for unemployment in Washington State is essential before you make an unemployment claim. Unemployment funds are not permanent, but they will replace a considerable portion of your regular income. The state requires all employers to pay unemployment taxes, which are meant to be used by former employees who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The benefits you receive are calculated using a set formula, and your eligibility for unemployment will be determined by the Employment Security Department.

    After covering the following topics, you will be able to answer the question What are the requirements to get unemployment?

    Find Washington Unemployment Resources

    Find Out How to Appeal Denied Benefits

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    Is There A Good Cause To Quit In Washington State

    The law does allow benefits in situations where an employee has good cause to quit. These reasons can be found in RCW 50.20.050. HOWEVER, Washington law only recognizes 12 specific good cause reasons to quit, and what might seem like a good cause to you may not be a good cause to quit under the law.

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    Learn About Additional Unemployment Requirements In Washington State

    New claims for unemployment benefits drop, but remain at record levels ...

    When determining your eligibility for unemployment in WA, the reviewer of your application will be strongly interested in the circumstances of your unemployment, and you will need to explain why you were fired, terminated or laid off. If you are on a leave of absence from work, you may or may not meet the qualifications for unemployment, as set forth by the government and state.

    Unemployment insurance benefits are generally reserved for a former worker who has lost a job through no fault of his or her own. Unemployment insurance eligibility stipulates that if a petitioners termination was conduct or performance-related, he or she would probably be ineligible for benefits. The state of Washington will classify you as laid off if your employer has no intention of replacing you with another worker, and fired if your employer intends to replace you.

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    How To Submit A Weekly Claim In Washington State

    The first week is your waiting week. You must submit a weekly claim for this week, but you will not be paid for it. If you didnt apply for unemployment benefits until near the end of a week, give us two business days to process your application before submitting your first weekly claim the following week. Find out if you qualify for benefits.

    Am I Eligible For Unemployment Benefits

    To qualify for unemployment benefits in the state of Washington, a claimant must satisfy several requirements. First, the applicant must have worked in Washington state for at least a portion of the base year used to calculate benefits. In Washington, you must have accrued a total of at least 680 working hours in your base year to be eligible for unemployment benefits. Unless you recently left the military and are currently located in Washington state, at least some of those hours must have occurred in Washington state.

    You must also be out of work through no fault of your own, meaning you cannot have quit your job without good cause. In addition, you must be willing, able, and available to accept suitable work when it is offered.

    To be eligible for Washington unemployment insurance benefits, you must be a resident of Washington and all of the following must be true:

    • You are unemployed through no fault of your own
    • You worked in Washington during the past 12 months
    • You earned a minimum amount of wages determined by Washington guidelines
    • You are actively seeking work each week you are collecting benefits

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    How Are Unemployment Benefits Determined In Washington State

    Amount and Duration of Unemployment Benefits in Washington State The ESD determines your weekly benefit amount by averaging your wages from the two highest quarters in your base period and multiplying that number by.0385. The minimum weekly benefit amount is $188, and the maximum weekly benefit is $790.

    Unemployment benefits are intended to bridge the gap between one job and the next, providing workers with monetary payments until they find a new jobor at least, for a period of time determined by the state they live in. Each state determines what constitutes good cause to quit.

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    Are Gig Workers Eligible For Unemployment

    Thousands waiting for unemployment benefits in Washington state | FOX 13 Seattle

    In Washington, the answer is maybe. The states unemployment insurance law is broader than under most other laws. This means that just because you are classified as an independent contractor under some laws does not mean that you are an independent contractor under Washingtons unemployment laws.

    The states Employment Security Department encourages those who have been laid off or lost work to apply for benefits. It will evaluate each application for eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

    According to NPR, the $2.2 trillion relief package passed by both the House and Senate allows self-employed people to apply for unemployment benefits that they normally would not qualify for. The package also lets some of the self-employed access disaster loans for small businesses.

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    How Do I Apply For Unemployment Benefits In Washington

    The easiest way to apply for your UI benefits is to submit your eligibility claim online. You also have the option of calling Washingtons claim center to submit your unemployment claim. However, please know that long wait times are common when filing a claim by phone. Its much faster and more efficient to apply online, and you are strongly encouraged to do so. Its a good idea to make sure that you apply for your unemployment compensation within two weeks of losing your job.

    S To Filing And Getting Your Unemployment Claim Processed Quickly

    • Filing online via your states unemployment website as soon as possible after losing your job or pay cut is the fastest way to submit an unemployment claim. Particularly in todays world where call centers are operating at reduced capacity. If you have issues with your claim you will have to likely contact your local State Unemployment Insurance agency. Just be prepared for this to take time.
    • Have details of your former jobs/employers , personal and banking information ready when filing the claim or talking to an agent at your state UI office. Make sure to give complete and correct information to minimize delays with your claim processing. It generally takes two to four weeks after you file your claim to receive your first first benefit check.
    • You can get paid by check, debit card or direct deposit. To get your payments in the fastest way go with direct deposit and ensure you have your correct and up to date bank routing and account numbers documented.
    • Certify on time to claim your benefits in order to get your unemployment check paid on schedule. One of the main reason people see disruptions is failing to file on time and with the required information. Further, with the new federal programs in place, the unemployment certification requirements could be more onerous so make sure you take time to review your weekly or bi-weekly certification requirements. If you miss several weeks of certification, you may have to file a new claim.

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    Amount And Duration Of Unemployment Benefits In Washington State

    The ESD determines your weekly benefit amount by averaging your wages from the two highest quarters in your base period and multiplying that number by .0385. The minimum weekly benefit amount is $188, and the maximum weekly benefit is $790. For example, if you earned an average of $17,000 in the two highest quarters, your weekly benefit amount would be $637 .

    An individual can collect regular unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, though this might be extended in periods of high unemployment.

    Quit And Still Eligible

    Washington unemployment rate holds steady at 4.5 percent

    The ESD looks at quit issues on a case-by-case basis. The claims examiner will look at the reason you quit the job before denying benefits. There are a few situations the examiner will consider the quit to be for a good cause:

    • Your employer reduced your salary by at least 25% or more
    • You found a new, or better, job
    • You had to leave because of a domestic violence issue
    • You worked under unsafe conditions or suffered undue harassment

    You had to show that you tried to remedy the situation before quitting the job. In many cases, this means discussing the matter with your supervisor or with HR.

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    For How Long Can I Claim The Benefits

    Most states allow eligible residents to claim unemployment benefits for 26 weeks , although some states offer more or less time.

    Montana allows for up to 28 weeks, while Idaho is among the states that offer less time at 21 weeks.

    Find the answers to more frequently asked questions in Washington here.

    Find the answers to more frequently asked questions in Idaho here.

    Learn About How To File A Ui Claim And Next Steps Online

    Due to the continued high demand for unemployment benefits, Employment Security Department is offering two new options for customers to learn more about setting up a Secure Access Washington account and submitting a claim for benefits online. You can watch the video below or sign up for the next webinar. See the information below for more details.

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    More Money Coming To Some Unemployed Workers In Washington Thanks To A Quirk

    In a perverse twist of the pandemic economy, Washington is boosting the weekly benefit for some jobless workers by nearly 50% starting next month the largest increase on record, the Employment Security Department announced Tuesday.

    And employers might not need to endure another tax increase to pay for it.

    The benefit increase stems from a state policy that ties jobless benefits to the states average wage, which thanks to a grim statistical quirk increased during the pandemic even as tens of thousands of workers lost their jobs.

    As a result, the minimum weekly unemployment benefit will increase by $94, to $295, for workers who file their first jobless claim on or after July 4. Thats the biggest increase since the ESD began tracking such data, during the Great Recession, said Paul Turek, ESDs state economist.

    The maximum weekly benefit for new claims also will increase by $85, to $929.

    Coupled with the $300 federal pandemic benefit, the states total weekly benefits will range from $595 to $1,229. That federal benefit ends in September.


    Around 17% of workers filing claims receive the minimum weekly benefit and roughly the same percentage get the maximum benefit amount, ESD officials said.

    The sharp increases reflect the pandemics disproportionately heavy effect on lower-wage workers, as well as lawmakers earlier efforts to soften that blow.

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