WSLC offers tips for filing your weekly unemployment claims

You don’t need to file your claim on Sunday. If you can wait, you should.


OLYMPIA  (April 26, 2020) — Beginning today — Sunday, April 26 — workers eligible for the new COVID-19 pandemic unemployment assistance program are filing claims and up to 1 million are expected to be filed this week alone. Because this volume of claims is unprecedented, despite steps taken by the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) to prepare for it, it is likely that some claimants will face delays or technical issues.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will continue to advocate for an effective unemployment system that provides timely relief to all. Far too many eligible workers are experiencing long delays in receiving unemployment through no fault of their own. The WSLC continues to work with its affiliated unions whose members are struggling to access their benefits and also continuing to push ESD for improvements to the system.

But in the meantime, the WSLC offers the following suggestions for those applying for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic:

► First of all, know that the money available to workers will not run out. There is a misconception — possibly because the expansion of eligibility was from the federal CARES Act which also offered a fixed budget of small business loans that ran out — that the unemployment benefits money might run out and you need to be first in line to get them. This is not the case. Benefits won’t run out and they will be paid retroactive to the date of eligibility.

► You must submit your claims every week to get paid every week. That said, if you can wait to file your claim, you should. Weekly claims can be filed over multiple days and at all hours. They need not be filed today (Sunday). They can be filed any time this week through Saturday night online. Both the online and the phone application systems are available 24/7.  So, if you do not have a dire financial situation, you should consider holding off until after Monday to file your weekly claims – at least for now – so that others who do have deep and immediate needs can get their funds sooner.

This is an exceptional request, but we know that these are exceptional times and we should do what we can to help manage this unprecedented scale of claims. Throughout this crisis, people have shown incredible heart and caring for their friends and neighbors. That same spirit of community should be applied to this situation.

File your claims late at night or early in the morning to try to avoid the logjams. You can file online and by phone 24/7. Traffic is lowest late at night to early in the morning, from about 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

► Work search is optional during this crisis. Click “no” when asked if you completed job search this week. That requirement is temporarily optional and you do not need to report your job search activities at this time.

The ESD has updated its Help page to reflect these tips and others to help smooth the process and level out traffic.

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