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.


DIY Different

While gardening, cooking, and home improvement are what most people think of as do-it-yourself, or DIY, in a more general sense anything that you can pay someone else to do or buy ready-made, but do yourself, is do-it-yourself. Let’s DIY Different!

Whether you’re an incessant reader, enjoy binge-watching television shows, or love a long videogame session, it’s storytelling that drives many of our hobbies and passions. If you’d like to take this one step further and are looking to participate in the storytelling yourself, one fantastic possibility is through tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or Numenera. Grab yourself a few friends, some paper and pencils, a set of dice, check out the Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook (& Dungeon Master’s Guide, & maybe the Monster Manual), and you’re ready to roll! Continue reading “DIY Different”

Graphic Medicine

Ever read a comic story with a character that has arthritis? How about someone who lives with anxiety and depression? PTSD? Food poisoning? If so, then you’re already familiar with Graphic Medicine!

Graphic Medicine is a genre of comics (with a website!) that examines the intersection of the comics medium with the discourses of healthcare, providing an accessible and impactful method of communicating and sharing illness narratives. These comics cover the spectrum, from published graphic novels (El Deafo), crowd-funded anthologies (Corpus), self-published web-comics (Kate or Die!) and zines ((No) Pain: A Guide to Injury Prevention for Cartoonists), with Graphic Medicine sometimes the focus of the work, other times simply present in a particular character or storyline. Continue reading “Graphic Medicine”

#BookBingoNW2019: Comics

Comics is a magical and mysterious medium that can fill one or all of your Book Bingo card squares this summer! It’s up to you!

Take a look at this recent staff booklist of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Comics and Graphic Novels and maybe try out In Between, a collection of poetry comics by local creator Mita Mahato (and don’t forget to stop by the Ballard Branch where Mita will lead a graphic memoir workshop, Thursday, June 6th @ 6pm).

For the hungry folks out there, maybe some Food-themed Comics & Manga is what you need in your life? Delicious in Dungeon (currently at 6 volumes of manga) is a dungeon-crawling adventure full of food, friends, and monsters (aka the food). Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2019: Comics”