How to Claim Your Unemployment Benefits in Washington State
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If your initial Washington unemployment benefits claim is approved, you will receive financial compensation on a weekly basis until you can find suitable work. Claiming benefits for unemployment in Washington is a relatively simple process, but unemployed job seekers are required to file for federal unemployment benefits and meet certain criteria each week as well.
Understand the Length of a Benefit Year in Washington State
Every Washington federal unemployment benefits claim is valid for one year (52 weeks) starting from the week you first filed. This 52-week time frame is known as a benefit year, and if your benefits run out during this time, you will have to wait until the next benefit year to file a new claim. You may be able to file a WA unemployment benefits extension if your benefits run out during the calendar year.
Most unemployed workers receive unemployment insurance benefits for 13 to 26 weeks. If your Washington unemployment benefits claim is denied, your statement will explain the reason in detail, and if you need to submit more information before a determination can be made, the department will tell you what to send and where to send it. Sometimes, the department will need to verify your information with a previous employer before it can provide you with more details about your benefits.
Learn About Your Washington Statement of Wages and Hours
Before you claim unemployment benefits in Washington, there will be no way to estimate the amount you will receive, but your Statement of Wages and Hours will provide you with a fairly accurate estimation. The maximum amount of federal unemployment benefits a worker can receive on a weekly basis is $681, and the minimum is $162. The actual amount you receive will be calculated using your weekly benefit amount (WBA) and maximum benefits payable (MBP), based on the initial wage information you provided.
The state calls your last four or five working quarters a base year, and the state will factor in your earnings from this time. For example, if you file your initial WA federal unemployment benefits claim on March 20, 2020, your base year will run from December 30, 2019, to November 30, 2020. The state also provides an estimation formula on the Employment Security Department website.
If your Washington federal unemployment benefits claim is accepted, you will receive an official Statement of Wages and Hours in the mail. Your statement will display the following information:
- Previous employers and the earnings they paid you during each quarter of the most recent base year
- The weekly benefit amount you are eligible for and the maximum amount of benefits you can receive in a calendar year
- The date that your benefit year begins and ends. You will only be allowed to claim benefits between these two dates
Before you can claim unemployment benefits, the state will require you to wait for a full seven days. This time is called a waiting week, and even though you will not be compensated for waiting, you will still need to meet the WA unemployment insurance eligibility requirements during this week. If you meet these requirements, you will receive payment during the second week, and if you wish to continue receiving benefits, you will need to file a claim every week. Most workers receive their WA state-federal unemployment benefits the day after the file a continued claim, but if you file a claim after 5:00 pm, the state may issue payment two days later.
How to Claim Your Washington Unemployment Benefits
You can have your Washington federal unemployment benefits deposited directly into your bank account. You can sign up for direct deposit 24 hours after you file your initial unemployment claim online. The state of Washington does not accept handwritten direct deposit requests, so you will need to enter your account and routing numbers online. After your request is received, you may have to wait up to two weeks before the state can verify your account information with your bank. Until this information is verified, the state will send you a paper check in the mail. Your funds cannot be directly deposited into your account if:
- Your bank is not in the United States.
- The banking information you provide is not correct.
- You change banks without updating your information online.
To opt out of direct deposit, log into your online unemployment benefits claim account and change your payment options.
If you receive WA state-federal unemployment benefits through the mail and you believe that your unemployment insurance check has been stolen or lost, you will need to contact the claims center. Please wait at least seven business days before you report your check as lost or stolen, and in the meantime, you will still need to file for weekly benefits.
How to Register for Work in Washington
If you plan to claim unemployment benefits in Washington, you will need to do the following on a weekly basis:
- Report three job contacts.
- Be available to work.
- Remain registered to work.
The state wants workers to find employment as soon as possible, and if you reject a job offer, you will need to explain why. In addition, you may forfeit your WA unemployment benefits claim. All unemployment income is considered taxable, and you will need to report your benefits to the IRS at tax time. You can elect to have a certain percentage of your benefits amount withheld from your check each week or pay estimated quarterly taxes.