How To File For Washington Unemployment

This page provides information on how to file for unemployment in Washington. If you lost your job or your hours were reduced at no fault of your own, you may qualify to receive unemployment benefits in your state. Review the information below, if you still have questions or issues about these benefits, then we suggest to contact your local Washington Unemployment Department for assistance. It is important that you file your new claim right away because Washington unemployment insurance are not retroactive.

Washington basic eligibility requirements

Unemployment benefits partially replace your regular earnings and help you meet expenses while you look for another job. It is not based on financial need.

If you did not work in Washington state

You cannot apply for unemployment benefits in Washington or file weekly claims here if you did not work in this state during the past 18 months. The only exceptions are if you were in the military or worked for the federal government. You must file your claim with one of the state(s) where you worked in the last 18 months. Contact each state where you worked to find out your claim options for those states.

If you did work in Washington state or were discharged from the military

To determine if you are eligible for unemployment benefits they examine:

1. Whether you worked enough hours in your base year:

  • You must have worked at least 680 hours in your base year
  • At least some wages must have been earned in Washington, unless you recently left the military and are currently located in Washington state

2. The reason you're unemployed or not working full time. We'll consider whether you:

  • Were laid off or fired
  • Quit your job
  • Were discharged from the military
  • Are involved in a strike or labor dispute
  • Are on a leave of absence
  • Are still working

3. Your availability for work for the weeks you claim.

Apply for Washington unemployment benefits

Apply for benefits online at any time or call the claims center at 800-318-6022. (People with hearing or speaking impairments can call Washington Relay Service 711. They take applications by phone from 8am to 4pm on Wednesdays and Fridays only except on holidays. Applying online is much faster. If you call, be prepared for long wait times. Applying for unemployment benefits later in the week will not delay benefit payments.

How long can I get benefits?

Your claim is good for a "benefit year" which is 52 weeks, beginning with the week you file your application. You cannot file a new claim in Washington until your benefit year is over, even though you may have received all of your benefits. Most claims receive between 13 to 26 weeks of benefits.

Estimate your benefit

They cannot tell you how much you will receive until you apply. They will mail you a Statement of Wages and Hours after you file your claim that tells you how much you are potentially eligible to receive. In Washington state, the maximum weekly benefit amount is $749. The minimum is $178. No one who is eligible for benefits will receive less than this, regardless of his or her earnings.

The actual amount you are eligible to receive depends on the earnings in your base year. They calculate your weekly benefit amount (WBA) and maximum benefits payable (MBP) on the wage information reported to us by your employer(s). You can estimate your own weekly and maximum amount of benefits to see how much you are potentially eligible to receive. You need to know which calendar quarters will make up your base year in order to estimate the amount. Your base year is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your claim.

Alternate base year claims

You could be eligible for an alternate base year claim if you do not have the required 680 hours of work in your regular base year. The base year for an alternate base year claim is the last four completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your claim. You must have 680 hours of work in the alternate base year and still meet all of the other eligibility requirements.

When will payments start?

The first week you are eligible for benefits is called your waiting week. You do not get paid for your waiting week. Even though you will not receive a payment, you must meet the eligibility requirements and submit a weekly claim to receive credit for your waiting week. They will issue your first payment after you claim your second week, if you meet all eligibility requirements. You must continue to submit weekly claims and look for work every week that you want to receive unemployment benefits, unless otherwise instructed.

Direct deposit payment

You can receive your benefits faster by signing up for direct deposit. They transfer benefits to your bank or credit union within one business day after you file your weekly claim. But it may take a few days for your bank or credit union to apply the funds to your account.

If the funds are not in your account when you expect, please contact your bank or credit union to see if there is any problem that may have prevented the deposit. You must wait seven calendar days before they can begin to track your deposit.

Debit card payment

You can also receive your benefits promptly if you sign up for a debit card. They send your benefits to Key Bank the same business day that you submit your weekly claim. It can take one to two days for your benefits to be loaded to your card.

Check payment

They usually issue your payment the day after you submit your weekly claim; however, if you submit your claim after 5pm, they usually issue it two days later. Do not expect your payment the same day every week. Processing times may vary.

If you haven't received your payment

To see if they have processed your payment, sign in to your eServices account and click on UI Claim. You can also call the weekly claims line at 800-318-6022 and select option 3 to see if it has been processed.

If the payment was issued and it has been seven mail delivery or banking days, but you still have not received benefits, call the claims center for help. Replacing lost or stolen checks takes time. In the meantime, continue to submit your weekly claims.

How and when to file a weekly claim

After you apply for unemployment benefits, you must file a weekly claim the next week in order to begin receiving benefits. Then, you must file a claim each week until you want your benefits to stop.

You can either file online or Call 800-318-6022 to use the automated phone system. For people with hearing or speaking impairments can call Washington Relay Service 711. If filing online, anytime between 12:01am on Sunday, and 11:59pm on Saturday. If filing by phone, anytime between 12:01am on Sunday, and 4pm on Friday (unless Friday is a holiday). Every week you want to claim benefits. The first week is your waiting week. You must file a weekly claim for this week, but you will not be paid for it.

If you didn't apply for unemployment benefits until near the end of a week, give us two business days to process your application before filing your first weekly claim the following week. You should file a weekly claim every week, even if you're waiting to:

  • Find out if you qualify for benefits
  • Have wages and hours added to your claim
  • Appeal a denial of benefits
Waiting Week

In most cases, the first weekly claim will be counted as your "waiting week." No unemployment benefits are paid for your waiting week. Then, your second and subsequent weekly claims may trigger benefit payment if you are eligible for payment. If you applied for unemployment and already served a waiting week within the past year due to a previous period of unemployment; you don't have to serve another waiting week.

File an appeal

You, your last employer or any base-year employer has the right to appeal any written decision they make about your unemployment benefits. This includes:

  • A final decision about your benefit amount (your final Statement of Benefits, Wages and Hours)
  • A decision to deny or reduce your benefits
  • A decision to disapprove your training application
  • The reason for an over payment
  • The amount of the over payment
  • The finding that you were at fault in causing the over payment or
  • The denial of your request to waive repayment of the overpaid benefits

You must file an appeal within 30 days of the date they sent your decision. If you do not file your appeal within 30 days, you must tell us why you are filing it late. Unless you can show good cause for filing late, your case may be dismissed as untimely. The easiest way to appeal is online in eServices. Click on the Decision status tab.

You can also use our appeal template, (available in English and Spanish) or write an appeal request. You can either mail or fax it to the following address (unless your decision has a different address):

Claims Center Appeals
P.O. Box 19018
Olympia, WA 98507-0018
Fax: 800-301-1795