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District of Columbia Unemployment Eligibility

District of Columbia Unemployment Eligibility

Washington DC – Unemployment Eligibility Calculator

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DC Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for unemployment compensation in Washington DC, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own, or experienced a reduction in wages or salary. Independent contractors, self-employed individuals, or gig workers are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance.

Monetary Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for DC unemployment benefits, you must have earned a specific level of income during a 12-month period, referred to as the base period. The base period is determined based on the date on which you submitted your initial claim for benefits.

If the first full week of your claim is in the month of:Your base period is the 12 months that ended on the previous:
January, February, or MarchSeptember 30
April, May, or JuneDecember 31
July, August, or SeptemberMarch 31
October, November, or DecemberJune 30

For example, if the first full week of your claim is on May 1, 2023, then your base period is November 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022.

Additional wage requirements:

  • You must have earned at least $1,950 in wages for the entire base period.
  • You must have wages in at least two quarters of the base period.
  • You made at least $1,300 in wages in one quarter of the base period.
  • The total amount you earned during the base period must be at least one and a half (1.5) times the wages in your highest quarter or be within $70 of that amount.

Non-Monetary eligibility requirements

To receive benefits, there are certain non-financial requirements you must also meet.

These requirements include:

  1. You lost your job due to no fault of your own.
  2. You must be willing and able to work a job that is suitable based on your education and past experiences.
  3. You must be physically able to work. You will be disqualified if you are injured, disabled, or on sick leave.
  4. You cannot be receiving unemployment benefits from another state.

Failing to meet an eligibility requirement may result in the disqualification of UI benefits.


If you work for a school, you might not qualify for certain benefits during holidays, or breaks between academic years or terms if you’ve been promised that you’ll have a job when school starts again.

If you’re part of a professional sports team, you might also not be able to get certain benefits during the break between seasons if you’ve been promised that you’ll keep your job for the next season.

Ongoing Eligibility Requirements

After your claim is approved, you must maintain your eligibility in order to collect payments, you must:

  • Certify each week by filing a weekly claim online or over the phone.
  • Accurately report any earnings or work you performed that week (even if you have not yet been paid)
  • Verify you are able and willing to work
  • Respond to all requests for additional documentation or information
  • Attend all required meetings, training sessions, and interviews
  • Accept any suitable job offer you receive
  • Perform (2) work search activities per week, and actively search for work.
  • Follow all instructions and report your work search activities and eligibility reviews. Please answer honestly to avoid possible issues with unemployment fraud.

Notice of Monetary Determination

Once you file your initial claim for unemployment benefits, you can expect to receive a Notice of Monetary Determination in the mail within a week. This notice will contain important information such as whether you earned enough wages to qualify for benefits, the amount of money you can expect to receive each week, and the maximum amount you can receive. You’ll also learn when your benefits will end, the base period of your claim, and which wages were used to calculate your DC unemployment benefits.

Keep in mind that there is a one-week waiting period before the unemployment benefit is paid. You won’t receive any payment for the first week of your claim, even if you’re eligible for benefits during that week.

Can I work part time and still collect DC unemployment?

Yes, you can still qualify for UI benefits if you work part time. However, if you work full time, you become ineligible.

Partial benefits from part time work (also known as partial unemployment) are calculated in the following ways:

  1. Calculate your weekly gross wages from your part-time job
  2. Add $50 to your weekly benefit amount
  3. Subtract 66% of your gross wages
  4. Any remaining amount (rounded down) will be your partial unemployment benefit payment for that week

Example: Let’s say your weekly benefit amount is $300, but you earned $100 in gross wages doing part-time work that week.

  1. Add $50 to your weekly benefit amount = ($300 + $50 = $350)
  2. Calculate 66% of your gross wages (0.66 x $100 = $66)
  3. Subtract 66% of your gross wages ($350 – $66 = $284)

Your adjusted unemployment payment is $284.

Job Separation requirements

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.

Can I quit my job and still collect DC unemployment benefits?

To be eligible for UI benefits, you must show there was good cause for quitting your job. DC law allows an employee to quit for the following reasons:

Domestic violence at home

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

If you are a victim of domestic violence and you need to quit your job to escape the situation, you can still qualify for UI benefits. To prove a claim of domestic violence, you can provide one of the following documents:

  • Written statement from a shelter official, social worker, counselor, therapist, attorney, medical doctor, or clergy member.
  • Police report or record
  • Record from a government agency or court

Relocation of spouse or partner

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

If you left your previous job voluntarily or were fired because you had to move with your spouse or domestic partner to a location too far away to commute, you can still be eligible for compensation benefits as long as you meet all other requirements.

Caring for sick or disabled family member

If you had to quit your previous job or were fired because you had to take care of an ill or disabled family member, you may still be eligible to receive compensation benefits as long as you meet all other requirements.

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.

Why was my claim denied?

There are several reasons why you may be denied unemployment compensation in the District of Columbia.

  • You were fired from your job for any type of misconduct
  • You did not attend a training course recommended by the Department of Employment Services
  • You did not register at an American Job Center
  • You failed to report wages as directed
  • You did not participate in designated reemployment services
  • You participated in a labor dispute other than a lockout
  • You refused to apply for or accept suitable work without good cause
  • You were unable to work or unavailable for work
  • You voluntarily left your job without good cause
  • You are not authorized to work in the United States

How to regain UI eligibility

If you are disqualified for gross misconduct, quitting your job without good cause, or refusing suitable work, the penalties are rather strict. Fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to become eligible for DC unemployment insurance benefits.

To requalify and apply for DC unemployment, you’ll need to go back to work for at least 10 weeks and become unemployed through no fault of your own.

You must also have earned at least 10 times the weekly benefit amount of your claim during this time. For example, if your weekly benefit amount is $200, then you need to earn a minimum of $2,000 during the 10 weeks of work.

These 10 weeks of work don’t have to be consecutive, but you will be asked to provide documentation such as a W-2 form or pay stub.

If you were disqualified due to misconduct – but not gross misconduct – then the disqualification will only last for 8 weeks, and the total amount of your benefits will be reduced by 8 times your weekly benefit amount.

The right to appeal

If you are disqualified and your unemployment claim was denied, you will receive in the mail a written Notice of Determination from a claims examiner that advises you why you were disqualified. If you would like to protest this decision, the notice will provide instructions on how to file an appeal in the District of Columbia.

  1. is there a maximum amount of severance allowed to collect UI? my lump sum severance package is 105,000 and i keep getting an error message when attempting to file a claim which states that the amount must by less than 100,000

    • Hi, Ron – you may want to connect with someone in the D.C. unemployment office to verify whether you’ve exceeded a specified amount. I don’t see a publicized severance cap related to unemployment eligibility, so you may be dealing with a technical issue if you’re getting an error message. Someone who can access your claim information can tell you for sure. In D.C., if severance pay is made in installments, you will be ineligible for benefits 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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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