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Unemployment benefits

What are unemployment benefits?

Unemployment benefits provide you with temporary income when you lose your job through no fault of your own. The money partly replaces your lost earnings and helps you pay expenses while looking for new work. The benefits, from taxes your former employer(s) paid, are not based on financial need. While you receive benefits, your job is to get back to work as quickly as possible.


How to apply for unemployment benefits  

The fastest way to apply for benefits is online.  While you can file by phone, you should expect extended wait times. There are no in-person unemployment offices in Washington state. Even if you go to a WorkSource office, you will still be directed to apply for unemployment benefits online or by phone. These steps will help guide you through the process.

Please Note:

  • Now hiring: Employment Security is hiring additional staff in claims center operations. See ESD's available jobs page at, and filter for Job Category “Insurance.”
  • Webinar: We have launched a new daily webinar to learn more about setting up a Secure Access Washington (SAW) account and submitting a claim for benefits online. Learn more on the webinar page.
  • Dealing with fraud: We take fraud seriously. Misrepresenting or knowingly withholding information is considered fraud and you may be denied benefits for future weeks, have to pay back benefits you have received, and be subject to additional penalties.

Get ready to apply

Before applying, download the unemployment application checklist to prepare.

Download Checklist

Step 1:

If you're out of work, and not sure if you're eligible for unemployment benefits, please use the links below for information about your possible eligibility.

  • If you were laid off as a result of COVID-19, you are likely eligible. See the COVID-19 page for details about changes to eligibility.
  • If you are unsure of your eligibility after reading the guides below, apply anyway. Complete the application as best you can and we will follow up with you as soon as possible.

Step 2:
 Apply online or by phone
Whether you apply online or by phone, be sure to have the necessary information ready before you start. Both systems will "time out" after a short period to protect the security of your personal information. 

Apply online 24 hours a day, seven days a week with eServices. It’s much faster. You must use a laptop or desktop computer for this initial step—not a mobile device.

Need help applying? Start with the eServices User Guide or read technical support FAQs.

Apply now


To use eServices, you must:

  1. Sign in to eServices with a SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account. If you established a SAW account for or another state service, you can use that same user name and password. If not, follow the instructions to create a new SAW account.
  2. Confirm the computer or mobile device you are using the first time you sign in or whenever you use a new device.

A confirmation page appears when you successfully submit an application. You also will receive verification by email, if you gave us your email address and permission to correspond with you. 


We are experiencing extremely high call volumes.

Please consider applying online through eServices for the quickest result.


The claims center number at 800-318-6022 will be open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (except holidays) as follows:

  • Monday: New applications for those with Social Security numbers ending in 0-3. Open only for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.
  • Tuesday: New applications for those with Social Security numbers ending in 0-6. Open for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.
  • Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: Everyone (Social Security numbers ending in 0-9) can submit new applications. Open for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.


We are experiencing extremly high call volume and longer than normal wait times.

Please consider these resources before calling:

Claim center agents are available to answer your questions over the phone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday (except holidays).

Find out when you can apply for unemployment benefits by phone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday-Friday.


If you want to schedule a specific day and time for someone from the Claims Center to call you back, please go to our Schedule a Callback page.

Step 3:
 After you apply
You will receive an Unemployment claim determination letting you know if you are eligible for benefits and how much you will receive. Please let us know immediately if you find errors.
  • Read the Handbook for unemployed workers (PDF, 3MB). You're responsible for knowing the requirements and following the rules.
  • Report honestly
  • Watch for and read any information we send you. If you chose to receive information via eServices, we will send you an email notifying you when you have new information that requires your attention. This information may be time sensitive and affect your eligibility for benefits.
  • Sign up for either direct deposit or debit card to receive your weekly benefits faster and in a secure manner.
  • Start your job search right away and document it. (See step 4)
  • Submit your weekly claims (See step 5)


Step 4:
 Look for work
The job search requirement to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits is now optional in order to increase access to unemployment benefits for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure will be retroactive to March 8, 2020, and will continue until further notice. There are many employers still hiring, even now, so we encourage anyone who has been laid off to continue in their job search through WorkSource or other online job search websites.

Job-search requirements 


Get job-search assistance

WorkSource can help you improve your job-search skills, find your next job and plan your career path.  Read the results of a study to learn how well WorkSource works!

WorkSource logo link to

Step 5:
 Submit a weekly claim or restart a claim
After you apply for unemployment benefits, you must submit a weekly claim for every week you wish to receive benefits. Your weekly claim covers the prior week. For unemployment purposes, a week runs from Sunday through Saturday – you cannot claim for the week until it is over.
After you apply for unemployment benefits, you must submit a weekly claim online for every week you wish to receive benefits. You can submit your weekly claims online 24 hours a day, seven days a week on any device.
Due to exteremly high call volume, the fastest way to submit a weekly claim is through eServices.


This service may not be available when call volume is extremely high. Please consider using eServices to file your weekly claim.

If you have hearing or speaking impairments, you can call Washington Relay Service 711.
If you were approved for unemployment benefits within the past 12 months, but stopped claiming for a week or more for any reason, don't submit a new application. You can restart your claim this week, then begin filing weekly claims next week, as normal.
 Additional benefit information