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Updated : April 28th, 2020

Washington D.C. Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Insurance (UI) in DC is provided by a joint state-federal initiative to those who have lost their jobs for no fault of their own. The UI benefits are intended to provide monetary stability to such people as they try to find another job opportunity.

The Department of Employment Services (DOES) in the District of Columbia provides a platform for individuals who are seeking employment opportunities to find prospective employers, along with providing monetary support. The DOES also provides training and career development opportunities to the job-seekers to help them find better employment opportunities.

Eligibility to Apply for UI Benefits in Washington D.C.

To gain eligibility for UI benefits in DC the applicant must have earned a sufficient amount of wages in the base period. Along with the wages in the base period, the applicant must provide an acceptable reason for separating from the previous employer to qualify for benefits.

Individuals may get disqualified from receiving UI benefits even during the benefit period if they fail to follow the rules and regulations laid down by the DOES. Therefore, it is also important to know about the requirements to maintain eligibility throughout the base period to receive UI benefits without any stoppage.

Monetary Eligibility

To gain monetary eligibility in Washington DC, the applicants must meet certain wage requirements during their base period.

A base period is a 12 month period in which the wages earned by the applicants are taken into consideration for UI benefits qualification. A base period is determined by the date in which you filed your initial claim.

A base period is divided into four quarters, where each quarter consists of three months. For instance, if a base year begins from January 2018, the four quarters in it would be-

  • January-February-March 2018 (first quarter)
  • April-May-June 2018 (second quarter)
  • July-August-September 2018 (third quarter)
  • October-November-December 2018 (fourth quarter)

The DOES uses two methods to calculate the wages in the base period- regular base period and alternative base period.

Regular Base Period

The regular base period will consist of the first four of the last five calendar quarters. The base period is determined by the date on which you filed your initial claim. To determine when your base period will begin based on your initial claim, take a look at the following table:

If the first full week of your claim is in the month of: Your base period is the 12 month period ending the previous:
January-February-March September 30
April-May–June December 31
July-August-September March 31
October-November-December June 30

Check out the base period calculator to know more about the base year calculation.

The applicants must meet the following wage requirements to get qualified for unemployment benefits in DC:

  • You must have earned a minimum of $1,300 in wages in at least one-quarter of the base period
  • You must have received wages in at least two quarters of the base period
  • You must have received a minimum of $1,950 in wages during the entire base period
  • Your total base period wages should be at least 1 ½ times the wages in your highest quarter or be within $70 of that amount

Alternative Base Period

If an applicant does not qualify through the regular base period calculations, the DOES will then use the alternative base period calculations to determine if the applicant qualifies for UI benefits. The alternative base period will consist of four recently completed calendar quarters.

To determine when your base period will begin based on your initial claim, take a look at the following table:

If the first full week of your claim is in the month of: Your base period is the 12 month period ending the previous:
January-February-March December 31
April-May–June March 31
July-August-September June 30
October-November-December September 30

The state of Washington DC provides unemployment benefits for a period of 26 weeks. The maximum weekly benefit that an applicant may earn is $432.

Find out more about eligibility requirements

Job Separation

As an applicant file for UI benefits, his/her previous employer will be notified about the application. The DOES will verify the reason given by you for separating from your previous organization by consulting your ex-employer.

It is important that the reason given by the applicant matches with the testimony of the ex-employer to qualify of UI benefits. The following are some of the reasons that may lead to disqualification of applicants:

  • You quit from your previous organization with a “good-cause” connected to work. A reason will be considered as a ‘good cause’ only when it is established that you have made sufficient efforts to solve the issue, but the issue remained unsolved
  • You were fired from your previous organization for gross misconduct
  • You were asked to leave because you indulged in illegal or unethical practices
  • You quit your previous job due to lack of interest in your previous job

The DOES takes some exceptions to the above rules for the following reasons:

  • Separation from employment due to domestic violence is an acceptable reason. The applicant must produce a police record, a court record, and a written statement shelter official, social worker, counselor, therapist, attorney, medical doctor, or clergy member
  • If you had to quit the job due to the relocation of your spouse, you would be eligible for benefits
  • If you quit the job to tend to an ill/disabled member of your family

Eligibility Calculator

Eligibility requirements – overview

Maintaining Eligibility

In addition to wage requirements and reasons for job-separation, applicants must also meet the following requirements once they qualify for UI benefits, failing which will lead to cancellation of UI benefits:

  • You must have lost your job for no fault of your own
  • You must be available for work at times during the benefits weeks. You must be ready to take up suitable job offers
  • You must meet at least two prospective employers in a week as a part of job search requirements
  • You must keep a record of your job-search activities and submit a report periodically to your nearest American Job Center
  • You must be physically able to work at all times during the benefits period. If in case you become incapable of working at any time in the benefits period, you must bring it to the notice of the DOES
  • You must not be receiving UI benefits from any other states while you are receiving benefits from Washington DC
  • You must make sure that you have submitted legitimate documents. Any incorrect information or documents will lead to disqualification of benefits
  • You must provide correct information about the wages earned in the base period and about the reason for separating from your previous organization. Any discrepancies with these details will instantly lead to the cancelation of unemployment benefits in DC

Find out on job search requirements

How to Apply For UI Benefits in DC?

The applicants can apply for benefits through the online portal or by placing a phone call to the DOES. But prior to filing the application, the applicants must remember to get hold of the following documents:

To apply for unemployment benefits in DC, you may choose from the following options:

Online: You can apply for unemployment benefits online in DC. Applying online is the most convenient way to file your applications with the DOES.

To apply for benefits through the online portal, log in to Unemployment Insurance Service Center page, and click on ‘File Your Claim Online’.


If you do not have access to the internet, you may also file for unemployment benefits in DC by placing a phone call. Dial 202-724-7000 to reach the DOES and submit your application.

You will need to use your SSN number and password that you created or that was mailed to you by the DOES while applying for benefits by telephone or by the online portal. If in case you do not remember the password, you must visit this link and reset your password by clicking on ‘Forgot your password?’.


While it is advised to apply for benefits online or by placing a phone call, you may apply by mail if the above options are unavailable to you. Remember the below points if you choose to send your application via mail:
For paper mail claims:

  • Do not forget to sign and date your claim form
  • You must mail your claim form no earlier than the Sunday following the week ending date and no later than seven (7) days after the week ending date
  • Make sure to mail to the address printed on the mail claim form. Please indicate your return address on the envelope; and
  • Put a stamp on your envelope

Learn how to claim weekly benefits

UI Benefit Amount

The Unemployment Insurance Benefits Calculator will assist you to find out the approximate unemployment benefits provided in Washington DC.

Benefits Calculator

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Disclaimer: The estimates are good in faith and accuracy is not guaranteed. We are not liable for any loss and damages caused by using the tools on our website. This calculator is here to assist you in evaluating what you might obtain if you are entitled to receive benefits. We make no promises that the sum you receive will be equal to what the calculator illustrates.

Know more about the Benefits Calculator

Things to Know After Filing An Application

Claimants are required to be aware of various rules and regulations which may affect them even after filing for unemployment benefits in DC. The DOES expects all the claimants to adhere to all the rules to ensure that they receive benefits without any hindrances.

Also, the DOES provides training opportunities to claimants to help them find a suitable job. It is advised to be informed about all the relevant training programs that cater to the specific needs of the claimants to make good use of these programs.

Overpayments and Fraud

As per the DOES, overpayment occurs when a claimant receives excessive weekly benefits that he/she is not entitled to. When the department identifies an overpayment, it will send a mail to the claimant, bringing his/her notice to the issue. The letter will explain the reason for the occurrence of overpayment and the amount due which needs to be repaid by the claimant.

Fraud, on the other hand, takes place when a claimant knowingly provides false/misleading information or withholds crucial information to get higher weekly benefits.

Some of the common reasons for the occurrence of overpayments are:

  • If a claimant fails to report his/her earnings in any week while filing for benefits during the benefit period, the benefits paid will be disqualified and will be considered as an overpayment
  • Claimants providing incorrect information about the earnings in a week will also lead to disqualification of benefits, and result in an overpayment
  • A decision by an Administrative Law Judge in the Office of Administrative Hearings overturning an earlier ruling that you were eligible to receive benefits
  • The benefits paid to the claimant will be considered an overpayment if he/she continues to file for UI benefits after returning to full-time jobs

The DOES employs a number of ways to detect overpayments. Some of the methods include:

  • The department conducts random audits of claims to verify the credibility of claims made by claimants
  • The department collects information relating to wages earned and reason for separation from previous employers
  • The DOES uses techniques such as computerized cross matches of wages reported by local employers every quarter in Washington DC and in neighboring states such as Maryland and Virginia
  • The department also uses computerized cross matches of new hire information to see if a claimant is got a new job but has not reported about the same in his/her weekly claim report

Repayment Of Overpayments

Claimants who have received overpayments are liable to return all the excessive amount received. Repayments can either be paid in a lump sum or a payment plan can be requested to pay in installments.

Furthermore, unemployment benefits may also be withheld to offset the outstanding amount. If the amount is not paid back for a prolonged period, the claimant’s district income tax refunds may also be intercepted to offset the outstanding balance. If the claimant fails to repay legal action can be taken to collect the outstanding balance.

In the case of fraud, along with the principle overpayment amount, an additional 15 percent penalty must be paid by the claimant. You may also be subject to disqualification for up to one year from receiving UI benefits. You may also face criminal prosecution and jail time if a case of fraud is established.

Benefits Extension

There are no benefits extension programs offered either by Washington D.C. or by the federal government as of July 2019. Claimants are advised to contact the DOES to enquire about the re-employment programs before the end of the benefit period.

Job Training Assistance

The DOES provides various training programs for the benefit of job-seekers in the state. Some of the important programs that claimants must be aware of are:

  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): The WIOA is a federally funded program that aims to increase the competence of adults, dislocated workers, and the youth, make the workforce more employable. The WIOA provides various programs that are designed to cater to the need of specific groups
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA): The TAA program is offered to those who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade. In order words, if someone loses his/her job due to reasons such as moving the workplace to a different country, outsourcing jobs to different countries or any other reasons directly relating to international trade will be eligible to apply for TAA. The TAA offers a variety of benefits to applicants such as:
    • Job training
    • Income support
    • job search and relocation allowances
    • A wage supplement to certain reemployed trade-affected workers 50 years of age and older
  • Workforce Investment Act (WIA): As per the WIA, while receiving the UI benefits, the claimants will be eligible to enroll to a school or a training program while receiving the benefits.
    The applicants may also apply for monetary grants through Federal Pell Grant or other scholarship programs to attend schools.

Know more job training opportunities in DC

Questions & Answers

  1. I have received unemployment since end of March and is almost due for the 26 weeks allowance..I work for Hilton Hotel in DC.
    My hotel is not planning to reopen until further notice and we are still jobless.
    What do I have to do now reapply for unemployment ? or keep on applying weekly?
    Please let me know
    Best Regards

  2. I am in an extremely hostile wok environment. I work as a contractor for a Federal government agency. I work long hours, uncompensated for and have getting sick a lot, but can’t take off. Because I am a contractor, I can’t appeal and the contractor I work for is headquartered in Nebraska, and is very indifferent. I feel as though if I don’t quit, I will get critically ill. If I quit, I can’t get unemployment, correct?

    1. Helen,

      A worker can be eligible to quit and claim UI under “Hostile” work conditions. However, it depends on whether your employer remitted Unemployment Taxes on your behalf. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  3. I was receiving disability funds and then resigned when I was not released by my doctor to return to work. I no longer receive any benefits, am I eligible for support?

    1. Donna,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have active employment and earnings in the last 4-5 calendar quarters.

  4. According to my documentation, it seems like my benefit will run for 1 year. Could the date and information on the document be wrong?


  5. This is first time receiving unemployment. I noticed that profile lists 26 weeks for maximum benefits. Does this mean that benefits run out in 6 months? I am worried that I will not have secured a job then. I also had the understanding that UB run for 99 weeks. Will the 26 weeks automatically change to 99 weeks as I continue to claim weekly benefits?

    1. States make unemployment decisions based on federal rules. The states pay basic unemployment benefits that are normally 26 weeks.

      Extensions for benefits depend on whether you are eligible and whether your state qualifies. You must finish up 26 weeks of state benefits before you can claim extended benefits. You should also continue to qualify and accept suitable employment if offered or your unemployment benefits may end.

      As you reside in District of Columbia, you could get benefits for up to 99 weeks. (EUC 53 weeks + EB 20 weeks = 99 weeks)

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