The unemployment insurance benefits program in Washington helps unemployed workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own. It is a temporary financial assistance program provided by the Washington Employment Security Department.
Eligibility To Apply For UI Benefits In Washington
To qualify for unemployment benefits in Washington, you need to meet certain eligibility criteria. The requirements are as follows:
The reason for your separation from your job. This could be due to being laid off, quitting with a valid reason, being terminated without fault on your part, or still working part-time instead of full-time.
Your mental and physical ability to work, as well as your availability. You cannot have any restrictions that would prevent you from accepting employment. For example, transportation, illness, vacations, or lack of family or child care could affect your ability to work.
Your active and ongoing job search. It’s important to actively look for work on a weekly basis and keep a record of your job search activities. This ensures that you are actively seeking employment in occupations that you are both willing and able to work in.
Your legal authorization to work in the United States and the weeks for which you are claiming benefits. It is necessary to have the proper legal documentation and authorization to work in the country during these periods.
Your benefits are based on the money you earned during a specific time called the base period, rather than your financial need. The base period is the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters before you apply for benefits. You will need to have worked at least 680 hours during your base period in order to qualify for Washington UI benefits.
Unemployment insurance aims to help people who are unemployed due to reasons they can’t control. Although you have the right to quit your job whenever you want, you won’t qualify for benefits if it’s determined that you left your previous job without a valid reason or if you were fired for misconduct related to your work.
Here are some examples of valid reasons for leaving your job:
In order to maintain your eligibility for the Washington state unemployment insurance program, you will need to submit a weekly claim showing you are still unemployed and looking for work. You will need to do this for every week you would like to receive payments.
Contact information, including address, phone number, email address
Highest level of education
Contact information for all employers in the past 18 months
Dates worked for each employer
Name and local number of union, if applicable
DD-214, if a former military member
SF8, if a former federal employee
Direct deposit information
You can apply for unemployment benefits 24 hours per day, seven days per week using the state’s eServices platform. Simply sign into your account using your SecureAccess Washington credentials, or create a new one by clicking the “Create new account” button and following the instructions on the screen.
If you don’t have access to the internet, you can apply for UI benefits by calling the UI claims center and speaking to a claims agent. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In an effort to reduce phone wait times, you will need to call on the day that corresponds to your Social Security number.
Monday—New applications for those with Social Security numbers ending in 0-3.
Tuesday—New applications for those with Social Security numbers ending in 0-6.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—Anyone can submit a new application for benefits.
There are two ways to submit a weekly claim for benefits. The first is by logging into the eServices platform, the second is by calling the state’s UI claims center. You will need to create a PIN the first time you file by phone, and will need to use this PIN for each weekly claim you file thereafter.
In rare circumstances, the Washington Employment Security Department will allow you to file your weekly certifications on paper. You will need to call the claims center and speak to a specialist to make these arrangements if they are necessary for your situation.
After you apply for benefits, it is crucial to stay organized in order to maintain your eligibility for unemployment insurance. Failure to adhere to these guidelines could result in disqualification from the program.
Here are some important points to remember:
When you receive unemployment benefits, it is your responsibility to maintain the unemployment eligibility requirements established by the state of Washington. It is considered unemployment fraud when someone provides false or misleading information in order to receive or increase their unemployment compensation.
An overpayment is when you receive more benefits than you are entitled to. This can occur if you make a mistake on your application or if the department makes an error in calculating your benefits. If you do receive an overpayment, you will be required to repay the extra money back to the state.
Extended Benefit programs
Sometimes, Extended Benefits are offered to provide additional weeks of unemployment benefits beyond the usual duration. The decision to implement Extended Benefits is made by the state and federal governments, taking into account economic factors like high unemployment rates, natural disasters, and national pandemics.
Currently, the state of Washington is not participating in any Extended Benefit programs. Unemployment claimants can receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment compensation per benefit year or one-third of their gross base period earnings—whichever number is less.
Job training assistance
The Washington Employment Security Department provides a variety of job search resources through its American Job Center partner, WorkSource Washington. These resources include:
Can I file for unemployment benefits if I am sick or on vacation?
You may not be eligible to file for unemployment benefits if you are sick or on vacation. To qualify for unemployment benefits, you generally need to be able and available to work. If you are unable to work due to illness or if you are on vacation, it could affect your eligibility for benefits.
Do I have to pay federal taxes on my unemployment benefits?
Yes, your unemployment benefits are subject to income taxes. When filing for Washington unemployment benefits, you have two options: you can opt to pay all taxes when you file your federal income taxes, or you can choose to have the department withhold 10% of your weekly benefit amount.
Washington state does not have a state income tax, so you will not have to pay state taxes on your unemployment income.
What is the maximum benefit amount I can receive?
The maximum weekly benefit amount you can receive from Washington unemployment is $999. This amount is based on how much you earned during your base period.
How do I end my claim after I get a full-time job?
When you find full-time employment, you can simply stop filing weekly claims and the Washington Employment Security Department will stop sending benefits. You do not need to let the department know that they need to stop payments.
Can I file for Washington unemployment benefits if I move to another state?
So long as the majority of your base period wages were earned in the state, you can file for Washington unemployment benefits. If the majority of your wages were earned in another state, you will need to file an unemployment claim with that state.
If you have wages earned in multiple states, you can file a combined wage claim, which can boost your weekly benefit amount.