Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP) frequently asked questions
Q. What is the Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP)?
A. In 2007, the Washington legislature decided that self-employment assistance programs help unemployed individuals and create new businesses and job opportunities. State law (RCW 50.20.250) allows unemployment-insurance claimants identified as likely to exhaust their regular unemployment benefits the opportunity to enroll in self-employment training while continuing to receive their unemployment benefits. Legislation passed in 2012 extended the program and expanded it to include claimants who are eligible for Commissioner-Approved Training (CAT).
Q. How soon do you send eligibility letters, so I know if I am eligible to pursue starting a business using SEAP?
A. We mail the eligibility letter to potentially eligible claimants after they apply for unemployment and file their first weekly claim for benefits.
Q. What happens if I apply for SEAP without receiving an eligibility letter?
A. Claimants who are profiled as likely to exhaust unemployment benefits will automatically receive the SEAP eligibility letter. Also, anyone who is otherwise eligible for CAT is eligible to participate in SEAP.
Q. How long will it take to get a decision about my approval?
A. Generally, it can take up to three weeks to process your application and mail a decision to you. An individual must be immediately able and available for full-time work and be actively seeking work to be eligible for benefits, or else be enrolled in training approved by the Employment Security Department. If you attend training without approval, your eligibility for benefits might be affected.
Q. After I am approved, how do I file my weekly claims for SEAP?
A. Filing weekly claims while participating in SEAP is the same as for regular benefits. You can file online, or call the weekly claims line at 1-800-318-6022. If you have self-employment earnings, you must report the net amount on your weekly claim (net earnings are gross earnings minus expenses) for the week you earn it, even if you receive the pay at a later date.
Q. What are my responsibilities while in training?
A. To maintain your eligibility for unemployment benefits while in approved training, you must make satisfactory progress in training as defined in state regulation (WAC 192-270-065). We will mail you a Satisfactory Progress Report form every six weeks, and your training provider must sign the form confirming your enrollment, attendance, active participation and that you are passing certification examinations within the time frame established under your approved training plan.
Q. Do I have to look for work while in training?
A. Once approved, you do not have to look for work while in training, as long as you are making satisfactory progress in the program. If you complete or withdraw from your training program, you must tell us you are no longer in training and start looking for work to continue to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Q. Once I complete my training, can I still collect unemployment benefits while working on my business?
A. If you have a balance of benefits available when you complete your training, you can continue to file for benefits. You must actively seek work that is "covered" by unemployment insurance (e.g., not self-employment), be able to work and be available for work in order to maintain your eligibility to receive benefits. Specifically, that means you must work for wages. Your self-employment must become a secondary activity to wage-earning employment. If you work a total of 40 hours in "covered" employment or your self-employment, then you are considered fully employed and ineligible for benefits for that week. State regulation (WAC 192-200-055(2)) says for SEAP participants: If you complete your training program before your unemployment benefits run out, you are no longer eligible for benefits unless you meet the availability for work and job-search requirements of the law (RCW 50.20.010 (1)(c)).
Q. What is the profile score threshold, and when is it updated?
A. We update the profile score threshold for SEAP in January each year. Claimants who filed claims January 1 through December 31, 2021, with a score of 24.69 or higher were considered likely to exhaust benefits. This score is used for SEAP and SEAP-related Commissioner-Approved Training (CAT). Your profile score is updated when you apply for a new unemployment claim.
For reference, for claims filed in 2019 the qualifying score was 20, and in 2020 it was 17.49. Claimants who file a claim January 1 through December 31, 2022 with a profile score of 23.9 or higher are considered likely to exhaust benefits.
Q. How is the profile score determined?
A. The profile score (between 0 and 100) is based on labor market information and other specific elements gathered during the initial claim process. When all of this information is combined and weighted to the local economy, the result determines your profile score (see WAC 192-180-060). The higher the profile score that you receive, the greater likelihood of exhausting your unemployment benefits.
The profile score is determined by:
- Your education level.
- The county where you live.
- Your primary occupation (the occupation showing the largest amount of earnings in your base year).
- The industry in which you received the most earnings in your recent work.
- The Statewide unemployment rate.
- Time of the year in which you apply for unemployment (which quarter you apply in)
- Potential duration of your unemployment benefits (weeks of benefits)
- Your unemployment Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA)
For more information, see our Worker Profiling and Reemployment Services page.
Q. Will all SEAP training providers accept all participants?
A. Some programs are not available to all applicants, as enrollment may be limited to low-income applicants. Therefore, you should review the specific eligibility requirements of the training provider to see if you qualify for its program.
Q. Can I change or extend my training plan?
A. You can always request a change in your training plan. Whether it can be approved depends on individual circumstances.
Q. Is there funding available to help pay for training?
A. Some training providers may offer financial aid, loans or business start-up funding to assist you. Please review the financial resource information of the training provider for further information.
Q. I am interested in becoming a SEAP approved training provider. How do I apply?
A. Please contact the SEAP administrative office at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If your question was not answered, you can call the Training Benefits/SEAP Unit at 877-600-7701.