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District of Columbia Unemployment Eligibility

You must meet the following requirements to become eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in District of Columbia.

Non Monetary Eligibility

  • Must be unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Must be available for work
  • Must be physically able to work. You cannot collect benefits while you are sick, injured, or disabled
  • Must not be receiving or seeking unemployment benefits from another state
  • Must quit or get fired for “good cause” connected with work
  • Must be registered for work through your local DC Works! One-Stop Career Center.

Monetary Eligibility

To be monetarily eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, you must meet certain wage requirements within a 12-month period called the base period. The base period is determined by the date you file your initial claim for benefits.

The wage requirements you must meet are the following:

  • You must have at least $1,300 in wages in one quarter of the base period
  • You must have wages in at least two quarters of the base period
  • You must have at least $1,950 in wages for the entire base period
  • Your total base period wages must be at least one and one half times the wages in your highest quarter, or be within $70 of that amount

If an individual is not monetarily eligible for benefits under the base period the Department will then determine if the individual is monetarily eligible under an “alternative base period.” This consists of the four (4) most recently completed calendar quarters prior to the date you first file your claim for benefits.

Eligibility Questions

Am I eligible if I am receiving Severance Pay?

If severance pay is made in installments, you will be ineligible for the period for which such payments are made. If severance pay is made in a lump sum but attributable to a specific period, you will be ineligible for that specific period. If severance pay is made in a lump sum and not attributable to any specific period, you will be ineligible for the week in which the lump sum payment is made.

What if my separation from employment is due to domestic violence?

An individual who either voluntarily left his or her last employer or was discharged by his or her last employer because of circumstances related to domestic violence may be eligible for benefits if one of the following is submitted to support the claim of domestic violence:

  • A police report or record;
  • A government agency or court record;
  • A written statement from a shelter official, social worker, counselor, therapist, attorney, medical doctor, or clergy member

What happens if I am laid off from my job?

There is no penalty or reduction in UI benefits if you are laid off. Your employer will be sent a notice to verify that you were laid off.

Unemployment benefits are designed to help those who lost their jobs through reasons beyond their own control.

If you get laid off because the business can’t afford, you are usually eligible for unemployment benefits. If you were laid off because you weren’t right for the job, then also you may be eligible to collect unemployment.

When you get laid-off, it is not your fault. Getting laid-off doesn’t mean that you were fired or you did something wrong. Once you get laid-off from your job, you should immediately apply for unemployment benefits.

If I left my job due to relocation of my spouse, am I eligible?

An individual who either voluntarily left his or her last employer or was discharged by his or her last employer because he or she accompanied his or her spouse or domestic partner to a place from which it is impractical to commute to the place of employment shall not be denied compensation benefits, so long as he or she is otherwise eligible.

More Questions?? —-> Read Eligibility Q & A Section

Want to know about how much you will receive?? —–>Calculate your benefits here

  1. I have been laid off and will be receiving severance.

    The language in my separation agreement is “the Comapny will provide you with severance pay in an amount equal to twenty weeks of your annual base salary for a total of X. This amount will be paid in accordance with the Company’s normal payroll practices, less all customary and required taxes and employment-related deductions.”

    This means I will not get a lump sum, but will be paid every 2 weeks over a span of 20 weeks.

    Am I correct to assume that I will not be eligible for DC unemployment until after the 20 weeks? If so, I’d like to request a lump sum. How should it be set up so that it is not attributed to a specific period?

    • Hi, Tom – you may still be found eligible for unemployment benefits, even if you’re receiving severance pay. You’ll need to report the amount of severance you receive as part of each weekly certification, and depending on the severance amount, your weekly benefit amount may be reduced. It’s wise to go ahead and apply for benefits as soon as possible so that you can have access to your full weekly benefit amount after your severance period is over.

  2. I signed an “Agreement and Release” as part of my severance package. Does this negate the severance pay ineliibility and therfore I would be eligible for unemployment benefits immediately?

  3. I work in DC but am a Florida resident. I dont pay DC taxes only federal and file my taxes with my Florida address as a permanent resident. Am i eligible to claim unemployment in DC

    • Lisa,

      Your employer would have paid unemployment insurance taxes into DC. Please consider applying from DC or check with your employer.

  4. Am I eligible for UI in DC if I am still on the payroll, however not working or collecting a paycheck because of slow or no work. I havent left the company but they have me on like a temporary furlough with no pay.

  5. I am receiving severance pay through the end of the month. Do I file for unemployment now or do I want until the severance payments are complete. Also, how long does it take for the determination to be made on the amount of unemployment

    • Marjorie,

      Please wait until the severance payout ends. You can apply towards the end of it. The determination process generally takes about 7-10 business days.

  6. I was told that upon entering the new year (2016) that I would be forced to resign or be fired. It seems that I can work until the end of the month if I resign, or I can be fired and let go immediately. My question is with a forced resignation, will I still qualify to receive unemployment? Or will a resignation of any kind undo my chances of receiving unemployment benefits?

    • If you have evidence to prove that it was not voluntary, you can be eligible. If it says resignation, you will not qualify.

  7. I stopped my unemployment with around $11,000 left (monetarily eligible). I took a job paying a few hundred less than UI, I was also going to school making $1300 a month…now im losing that school monthly pay and my current job cant keep me afloat. Am I eligible for UI ifi quit my current job and I relocate for a better career in a different state?

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