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File for Unemployment Benefits
The easiest way to file a claim for Unemployment Insurance in Washington is online through the ESD website, but you may also file your claim via phone and selecting option 2.
The ESD released a statement on October 5, 2016 announcing a new ESD website will be launched on November 14, 2016. The purpose of the new website is to lower the need for individuals to use the phone system for filing new and weekly claims.
Note: The majority of the following information will be focused on using the online system of the ESD to file Unemployment Insurance claims. However, the same information, documentation, and requirements apply when claiming benefits by phone.
Unemployment Application and Initial Claim
File Your Unemployment Application and Initial Claim
Applications are taken by phone Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If your Social Security Number ends with:
- 0, 1, 2 or 3, call on Tuesday.
- 4, 5 or 6, call on Wednesday.
- 7, 8, or 9, call on Thursday.
- Anyone needing to file an initial unemployment benefits application may call on Friday.
To submit an initial application for Unemployment Insurance online, go to https://esd.wa.gov/ and click on “Apply for Unemployment Benefits” on the homepage. You will be taken to the Washington State Employment Security Unemployment Insurance Benefits Application start page. From there, you will be guided through the process by simply following instructions and entering the necessary information and documentation to prove eligibility to collect UI benefits in Washington.
Whether you file online or by phone, both systems will timeout after 15 minutes of inactivity, so do not take long periods between entering information.
Documents and Information Needed During Filing
- Social Security Number
- Your name and date of birth
- Your address, telephone number, and email address
- Your highest level of education
- Names and contact information for all of your employers for the last two years (Note: if you worked for more than 16 employers over the past 18 months, you must file your claim by phone)
- Start and end dates that you worked for all employers over the past two years
- Union contact information and number
- Ex-military form DD-214 if you were separated from service within the last 18 months
- Federal employment forms SF-8 and/or SF-50
- Non-citizen work authorization information and expiration dates
- Your bank account information if you intend to receive direct deposit of your benefits
When you file an initial claim, it will become effective the Sunday of the week you apply, regardless of your last working date.
Claim Weekly Benefits
When you file your weekly claim for benefits, you are filing for the week that ended last Saturday at 11:59 p.m. For ESD purposes, a week is Sunday through Saturday. Be sure to do the following:
- Apply for unemployment benefits during week one and begin your work search requirements.
- In week two, you will start submitting weekly claims. The week you’re claiming must end before you can file a claim to collect Unemployment Insurance benefits. The claim you file in week two is for week one that ended last Saturday at 11:59 p.m.
If you are found eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits, week one is a waiting week. ESD requires that everyone expecting to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits from the state of Washington serve a waiting (unpaid) week. You will not receive benefits for that week, but you must claim it. In week three, you will file a claim for week two.
If you are found eligible to receive unemployment benefits, your first payment will be for week two.
You must file and meet eligibility requirements every week you want to claim benefits.
How to Claim Weekly Benefits
Filing your weekly claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits is necessary for continued eligibility. Simply go to the EDS website to file your claim. You must file a weekly claim for benefits, even if you are:
- Waiting for a determination of your eligibility for benefits.
- Expecting wages will be added to your claim.
- Appealing a denial.
You will be asked the following questions when you file your weekly benefit claim:
- Were you available and able to work?
- Did you actively seek out reemployment as directed?
- Did you refuse any offer to work or fail to attend a scheduled job interview?
- Did you apply for or receive workers or crime victims’ compensation?
- Did you apply for or has there been a change in pension?
- Did you or will you receive holiday pay from a current 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?
- Do you have any other reportable earnings?
After filling in all necessary information and submitting your claim, you will receive notification via email that your claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits is either accepted or denied.
Claim Denials or Discrepancies
After you submit an application for Unemployment Insurance benefits with Washington State ESD, you will receive a notice of determination. The average time it takes to receive a determination of either approval or denial is four weeks, but could take as long as six. If you do not agree with ESD’s decision about your claim, you have the right to appeal.
You may appeal the following:
- Denial of benefits
- Your Statement of Wages and Hours (missing or incorrect information)
- Eligibility determination for a training program
- Reason(s) for overpayments
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Your last employer and any Base Year employer also has the opportunity to dispute your determination for you to receive benefits.
Appeals Process for Denied Claims
After you receive a letter of determination for Unemployment Insurance compensation from ESD, you have 30 days from the mailing date listed on the letter to file an appeal. All appeals to ESD must be sent by fax or postal mail. ESD cannot accept appeals by email.
The new system being launched on November 14, 2016 will have updated abilities and options for correspondence with ESD. Visit the Washington State ESD website for more information on the forthcoming updated online system.
You can download an appeal template from the ESD website by clicking here, or write out your own. You appeal letter must contain the following information:
- Your name
- Your Social Security number
- What you are appealing (the reason you were denied/disqualified)
- The date of the decision
- Why you disagree with the decision
- Any records that you think should be considered in making the decision
- Any witnesses you would like to have present for your hearing
- If you need an interpreter, which language you use (this includes American Sign Language interpreters)
- If your appeal is late, explain why it is late (there may be some excused reasons for an appeal letter being filed late)
- Your signature
When ESD receives your appeal letter, it will be forwarded to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The OAH is not part of Washington State ESD; they are an outside party that will assign an administrative law judge to hear your case. OAH will schedule your hearing and send a copy of your appeal claim file to all interested parties. You will be notified of the date and time of you hearing via postal mail. Most hearings are conducted by phone.
During the hearing, you will have the right to submit testimony under oath and question witnesses that will help prove your case. For more detailed information on Unemployment Insurance appeals in the state of Washington, OAH has produced a 32-minute video that details the entire process.
During the appeals process, you must continue to file your weekly claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Failure to do so will result in loss of benefits for any week you did not claim while the appeal was in process, should you win a decision in your favor.
Should your appeal be denied, you have the right to file another appeal with the Petition for Review with the Commissioner of the Employment Security Department. When you receive your hearing decision of your appeal, there will be full instructions on how to request a review with Commissioner of the ESD.
If you request a review of the decision, if accepted, the Commissioner’s Review Office will review the entire proceeding, testimony, documents, and the law judge’s findings. The result of this review is final.
Office of Appeals Contact Information
Claims Center Appeals
P.O. Box 19018
Olympia, WA 98507-0018