The Washington State Department of Employment Security administers the state's unemployment insurance program. It temporarily replaces some of the weekly income for people fired due to being ill-suited for the job, laid off, victim of a business closure or other factors beyond the person's control. It is financed by a tax on employers.
Applying for unemployment insurance
Apply for Washington state unemployment insurance either by phone (800) 318-6022 or online at esd.wa.gov. You must be out of a job due to circumstances beyond your control, such as a layoff, business closure or being ill-suited for the job. You also must actively seek work and being ready, willing and able to work every day you claim benefits.
After you file for unemployment insurance, you must register for work at your local Employment Security Department or "unemployment office." Your first week out of work is regarded as your "waiting week," for which you will not be paid. Once your application is approved, you will receive a "Statement of Wages and Hours" in the mail listing your weekly benefit amount (based upon your two highest earning quarters of the last four). You also will receive an explanation booklet and a job search log.
Your Pension's Affect on Benefits
The 1976 Unemployment Compensation Amendments required states to deduct retirement pay or pensions (both government and private) from unemployment insurance payments. A 1980 law changed this requirement to apply only to pensions provided by an employer contributing to the state's unemployment insurance program. However, the law also allows states to reduce weekly unemployment insurance payments consistent with just the employee's contribution to the pension not the entire amount.
Job Search Requirements
You must make three employer contacts or participate in three job search activities at a Washington State Employment Security Department office (or a combination totaling three) each week you claim unemployment benefits. You must record these contacts or activities in the job search log mailed with your "Statement of Wages and Hours." If called for a job search review, this log will be reviewed for compliance.
You do not have to accept a job that is outside your training and experience, that requires you to join or resign from a union or that has working conditions or hours less favorable than similar jobs in the area. You also can refuse work if the commute is farther than similar jobs in your area, if the wages are lower than similar jobs, if can't physically perform the work, if it is unreasonably dangerous or if it offends your moral conscience or religious beliefs. However, the definition of "suitable work" will become broader the longer you collect unemployment insurance.