How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in Washington State

***This post is adapted from the Washington State Employment Security Department web page. Be sure to check there for additional detail and any future changes to the unemployment claims process in Washington State.


Many in our community are being laid off from work due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be eligible for unemployment benefits through the Washington State Employment Security Department. These unemployment benefits provide “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”.

Step 1 – Eligibility
To see if you qualify for benefits, check the Employment Security Department’s web page, and know that emergency rules have been adopted that expand who is eligible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

      • If you were laid off as a result of COVID-19, you are likely eligible.
      • If you are unsure of your eligibility, 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
Know that Washington has seen an eight-fold increase in unemployment claims, so be patient. The Employment Security Department is currently hiring as many as 60 or more staff to help speed up the claims process, and adding a call center.

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.
Have this information ready  |  Online application questions  |  Phone application questions 

Apply Online
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? Start with the eServices User Guide or read technical support FAQs. 

Apply by Phone
We are experiencing extremely high call volumes.
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.

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.

Sign up for direct deposit | Sign up for a benefits debit card | How soon will payments start | Estimate your benefit amount | See our jobs and training section | Update your information

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.

Also be sure to check out The Seattle Public Library’s Job Resources web page for a guide to discovering career paths, getting new jobs skills, working on a cover letter or resume, and finding available jobs. 

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. 

How & when to submit a weekly claim | Weekly claim application questions |  Watch weekly claim video | Missed a week of filing?

For more information and guidance, register for a webinar on filing unemployment insurance claim online, and download a slide deck at

Be well. 

 ~posted by Mychal L.


An April Quartet:  In Alto, Poets Face that Discordant Sound

This is how April will find us, still, in the throes of this great viral mystery. Who shall be next? Who will escape, sometimes, barely? Hold on! Persist. Where to find solace and perspective? In poetry, perhaps.

In honor of National Poetry Month, we have prepared a map of sorts. A poetic map of terrain only poets dare travel. Poets have not shied away from the most difficult moments of any day. We turn to poetry to reflect, find relief and to learn. A poem can teach us how to see our way through the most terrible of times.

The resource list An April Quartet:  In Alto, Poets Face that Discordant Sound, includes links to online poems, e-books and e-audiobooks.  You can partake of James Tate’s quirky way of teasing the heck out of the idea of death in The Government Lake or travel into depths reminiscent of Dante in The M: The Mobius Strip Club of Grief by Bianca Stone.

One excellent source for reading poems online is the Poetry Foundation.  Check out Janice Gould’s prose poem Flu, 1962 which demonstrates that, even, in the midst of illness the business of being a family never takes a rest.

A poem can change your world. It can bring a new perspective and understanding.  While there is no history without suffering, E.A. Markham has written a poem titled A History Without Suffering, proving the magical properties of poetry can dispel our worst nightmares.

While we see no end in sight. While no one is left untouched in these dire times, the library is a lifeline, still. Grab hold, we hope that you can take solace when and where you can in our offerings. The intent is that these poems will offer insight into the ways that pain can forge new ways of seeing the world and our place in it. They, also, demonstrate that someone will live to tell the tale. This is the future’s promise, hard though it be, in Desiree Alvarez’s Afterword.

The rest of this quartet will be sung in lighter tones and with lilting levity, that we may feast on the food that poetry can provide and pluck its flowering poems.

~ posted by Chris

Reconnect Virtually with Seattle Museums 

Connecting virtually with our friends, families, co-workers, classmates – this new way of life is quickly becoming the norm. The way we interact with the world will forever be changed by this pandemic. 

What seems to always be true in times of national crisis is the rise of creativity and ingenuity among people and communities. When we come together, we make great things happen amidst the chaos and uncertainty. 

Many of our favorite institutions across the city are offering new ways to connect with resources, digital content, and online learning opportunities. Here are just a few of my favorite discoveries this week. 

Burke from Home
The Burke Museum is providing a variety of coloring pages, prehistoric craft ideas, and a printable nature scavenger hunt. You can also sign-up to receive weekly curriculum packets to support your child’s at home learning. Continue reading “Reconnect Virtually with Seattle Museums “

Missing Live Music? We’ve Got You Covered

If you’re a live show junkie, Washington’s new “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order might have you feeling a little stir-crazy. Not to worry: we’ll be writing a series of posts that might help you get your music fix with the aid of streaming services like Freegal, Hoopla, and Kanopy

First up, let’s take a deep dive into the world of the 90s riot grrrl movement. Consider watching Elizabeth Moss’ feistiest performance yet (yes, even more hot-blooded than Offred of The Handmaid’s Tale) in the 2019 film Her Smell, available from Kanopy.

Continue reading “Missing Live Music? We’ve Got You Covered”

Outdoor Escapes: Digital Edition

Need to escape your house? Looking for some peace and quiet? Enjoy the spring weather and get outside for a walk or bike ride.

For lovely walking in Seattle, I would suggest you get a hold of a digital copy of Seattle Walk Report. You can find a walk for every neighborhood. Some other digital titles with cool walk suggestions are Walking Seattle: 35 Tours of the Jet City’s Parks, Landmarks, Neighborhoods and Scenic Views, Seattle Stairway Walks: And Up-and-down Guide to City Neighborhoods, and Urban Trails, Seattle: Shoreline, Renton, Kent, Vashon Island.

Continue reading “Outdoor Escapes: Digital Edition”