Coronavirus: Here’s how to apply for unemployment in Washington

Coronavirus: Here’s how to apply for unemployment in Washington
File photo a woman types on a keyboard in New York. (Jenny Kane/AP)

With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, many people have found themselves without a job.

The Washington State Employment Security Department says you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are unable to work due to coronavirus. Some scenarios include:

  • Your employer temporarily closes the business to comply with state guidelines
  • You are temporarily laid off or your hours are reduced due to business slowdown or lack of demand.

For more on specific scenarios related to coronavirus that may impact your eligibility for unemployment benefits, please visit esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19.

So, how do you apply for unemployment?

According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, you must have the following information before you can file:

· Name, Social Security number, birthdate and contact information

· Your employment for the last 18 months, including for each employer:

· Name, address and phone number

· First and last day of work dates

· Your bank account and routing number, if you want to sign up for direct deposit.

If you normally get your work through a union, had more than 16 employers in your base year, or were in the military during the last 18 months, you may need to provide additional information. Find more at esd.wa.gov/unemployment/have-this-information-ready.

When you apply for benefits, you should select “laid off” as your reason for separating from your employer. Choose "Company temporarily closed" from the secondary options.

Where to apply

Employment Security says it’s much faster to apply online 24 hours a day, seven days a week with eServices. You must use a laptop or desktop computer for this initial step—not a mobile device.

You can also apply by phone, but call volumes are extremely high.

The claims center number at 1-800-318-6022 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.

More from Washington State Employment Security Department:

What if I need to take time off work because I contract COVID-19?

The first and best option for employees who need to miss work due to illness is to use their employer-paid time off. Labor and Industries has information about Paid Sick Leave. When this leave is not available, Paid Family and Medical Leave may be available to help.

Q. What if I am asked by a medical professional or public health official to quarantine as a result of COVID-19, but I am not sick?

If you are following guidance issued by a medical professional or public health official to isolate or quarantine yourself as a result of exposure to COVID-19 and you are not receiving paid sick leave from your employer, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Eligibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. If you know you can return to your job as soon as your isolation or quarantine is lifted, you may not need to search for work. You must able to accept any work offered by your employer that would not cause you to break isolation or quarantine.