Applying for Pandemic Expanded Unemployment Insurance

This week the State of Washington was able to expand its unemployment insurance program to cover individuals who were not previously covered, including:

  • Self-employed and independent contractors
  • Sick or caring for a family member
  • Lost work, or are a part-time worker

Because we serve so many small businesses, I wanted to make sure everyone has the information they need in order to apply, or to pass along to employees, friends, or family.

Not sure whether you qualify for unemployment insurance? Find out using the State’s Expanded Unemployment Insurance Eligibility Checker.

Prepare Yourself, or Prepare for a Headache

First of all, make sure to read all of the resources before you begin your application.  If you mess up your application and need to change it, you have to call the help desk, which is almost impossible right now.  ESD reports that their website is experiencing over 500,000 users per hour.  In an updated report today they asked for people to exercise patience, and said that the money will not run out, and payments will be retroactive.

Your steps:
First, watch this tutorial.  Seriously, this nine-minute tutorial will save you hours of time trying to get through to the help desk if you mess up even a tiny part of your application. 

Next, consider attending a webinar.  They are offering one this week on Thursday and one on Friday.  They don’t have any scheduled for next week. 

If you didn’t qualify for normal unemployment insurance but qualify under one of the expanded reasons, you have to apply the normal way, get denied, and then go back and apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.  Links to instructions for each are here:

Have you or your employees had an experience with the Washington State Employment Security Department that would be helpful for others? If so, please share in the comments section.

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