You've applied for benefits. Now what?
Now that you have applied for unemployment insurance, here is some important information you need to know. You are responsible for reading and understanding this information. If you have questions, call the claims center.
Watch your mail
You will receive a Statement of Wages and Hours in the mail. This statement lists the employers you worked for and the wages and hours reported by these employers during the base year of your claim. It also shows your weekly benefit amount and the total amount available on your claim. Please review your wages and hours carefully. If you think they are wrong, call the claims center (Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for state holidays) to request a correction.
Your Washington claim is available for one year -- your benefit year. You cannot file another new Washington claim until that year is over. Your benefits, however, will not last the entire year. Most claims receive between 13 to 26 weeks of benefits.
You will also receive a booklet titled "Handbook for Unemployed Workers." This booklet answers many questions about unemployment insurance. It also gives you step-by-step instructions for filing your weekly claims for benefits. You are responsible for reading and understanding this booklet. If you have any questions, call the claims center for help.
If we question your eligibility for benefits
While you are claiming benefits, you may receive a message or questionnaire asking for additional information. You must respond immediately any time you receive a message asking for information. The message or questionnaire tells you what information we need and where to send it.
We may even conduct a telephone interview to get the necessary information to make a decision. We may not pay you benefits until a decision is made, a process that can take from six to eight weeks, sometimes longer. You must start filing your weekly claims right away. We will not make a decision until you claim at least one week. Continue to file your weekly claims each week while waiting for a decision. We will only pay you for weeks you claimed if you are allowed benefits.
You or your former employer can appeal any written decision we make if you disagree. We include instructions for filing an appeal in the written decision.
To receive an unemployment check, begin filing weekly claims between the times and dates shown below:
From: XX/XX/XXXX To: XX/XX/XXXX
You may want to mark on a calendar when to call in or go to Employment Security's Web site to file your weekly claim.
You can call from any phone, but you may have difficulty using some cordless or cellular phones.
When you file a weekly claim, you answer a series of questions (PDF, 34KB) about the previous week. To keep your claim current, you must file your weekly claim each and every week until you return to work. If you miss filing a week you wanted to claim, you need to call the claims center.
If you did not apply for unemployment benefits until the end of this week, give us two business days to process your application before filing your first weekly claim next week.
IMPORTANT: File your weekly claims even if we are still deciding whether you are eligible for benefits. We will only pay you for the weeks you claimed if you are allowed benefits. You will not be paid for any weeks you did not claim.
The first week you file your weekly claim and are eligible for benefits is called your waiting week. You must file a weekly claim for your waiting week, even though we do not pay you for the week.
If you work during any week you are claiming, you must report your earnings, before deductions, when you file your weekly claim, even if you have not been paid yet.
If you are currently performing work or services on an exchange basis, such as trading work for rent, you must report this as earnings on your weekly claim. Call the claims center for more information on how to report these types of earnings.
If you fail to report any earnings, you will have to pay back any benefits you received, plus interest. If you knowingly fail to report earnings, we will also assess fraud, which can result in a denial of benefits and additional penalties.
Your personal identification numberTo file your weekly claim or get information about your claim, you need to enter a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). This PIN is your electronic signature. You create your PIN when you file your first weekly claim for benefits either by phone or on the Internet.
When you file your first weekly claim, after entering your SSN, the system asks you to enter your two-digit birth month and four-digit birth year using the keypad on your phone or keyboard of your computer. For example, if your birthday is 01/26/76, you enter 01 for the month and 1976 for the year.
Then the system asks you to create a new four-digit PIN, and then to verify it. Select a PIN that is easy for you to remember. Do not use numbers in a sequence (like 1234), repeating numbers (like 3333), four digits of your SSN, or your birth date.
Do not give your PIN to anyone. Remember, it is your electronic signature. You are responsible for all payments made using your PIN.
To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work each week that you file a weekly claim for benefits. The following requirements must be met each week you file a weekly claim or you may lose your benefits for the week:
- Make at least three employer contacts each week, or
- Participate in three approved in-person job-search activities at your WorkSource office or local employment center, or
- Have a combination of employer contacts and in-person activities, for a total of three.
Approved in-person job-search activities at the WorkSource office or local employment center include workshops on topics such as job-finding tips, interviewing skills, and using the Internet to find a job. Other activities that qualify may be offered by your local office.
NOTE: If your claim is based entirely on part-time work of 17 or fewer hours each week, your three employer contacts each week can be for part-time work. We will send you a letter explaining your part-time job-search requirements if this provision of the law applies to you. Call the claims center if you have any questions.
We encourage you to use WorkSource or the department's online job search program, to start your job search efforts. It is a free service and you may use it as often as needed to help you get a job faster.
State law requires you to keep a record that you are actively looking for work every week you claim unless you are participating in a training program approved by the Commissioner, attached to an employer, or are a member of a full referral union. Attached to an employer means you are:
- Approved by our department for standby (see WAC 192-110-015).
- Approved by our department as partially unemployed (see WAC 192-180-013(1).
- Unemployed because you are on strike or locked out from your work site (see RCW 50.20.090(2).
Write all employer contacts and job search activities on a log. A job-search log is included in the "Handbook for Unemployed Workers" being mailed to you. It is also available at your WorkSource office or online. You do not have to use the job search log form, however your log must have all the same required information as the job-search log.
You may be selected for a job search review to check your job-search log. We will review the information on your log and may contact the employers you list to make sure you are meeting the job-search requirements.
We will ask you to show photo identification at your appointment.
We will reschedule you for a second interview to review all weeks that you filed for unemployment benefits if you miss your appointment or your log is incomplete. We will deny your benefits if you have not met all the job-search requirements for any given week(s). The denial may result in an overpayment for which you must pay back.
If you have a Washington claim, you are subject to job search review even if you live in another state. Reviews may take place by mail, phone or personal interview at your local employment center.
Your job search activities may include looking for self-employment, but this cannot substitute for your three employer contacts each week. You must be looking for work as an employee in your regular occupation. We may question your eligibility for benefits if your primary goal is self-employment.
Your WorkSource office or local employment center can offer you a variety of services, including job-readiness workshops, access to a job matching system, and information about Commissioner Approved Training and Training Benefits. They may also contact you about worker profiling services, which you are required to attend. If you do not, your unemployment benefits may be denied.
Most claimants are automatically registered for work at the WorkSource office. However, if you are notified you need to register, you must do so within one week. The WorkSource offices are listed in the Handbook for Unemployed Workers (PDF, 2.9MB) and on the Internet.
Out-of-state claimants: If you live out of state and are filing your claim against Washington, call 877-872-5627, or go online to find the local employment center closest to you. You are required to register for work within one week of receiving your first check.
Your rights while receiving unemployment benefits
If we question your eligibility for benefits:
- You are entitled to know why.
- You may ask for a copy of any or all department records or documents about the problem.
- You have a right to an interview before a decision is made.
- You may have anyone, including an attorney, assist you at the interview.
- You may present evidence, documents, or witnesses, including co-workers, at the interview.
- You may question witnesses or anyone present at the interview.
- You may appeal any decision you disagree with.