Update for People Awaiting Unemployment Benefits

The Employment Security Department (ESD) has provided additional information for people who have not successfully qualified or received unemployment insurance benefits. See below if this issue is affecting you:

Unemployment Benefits Adjudication Update

ESD is working night and day to resolve this: This includes clearing out issues for things that aren’t relevant during the COVID-19 crisis. ESD is also adding more staff. Hear more from ESD’s commissioner, Suzi Levine.

While you wait: Check your spam folder—regularly. Adjudicators may be trying to reach you with questions so they can resolve the issues that are blocking your benefits. Did you apply online through eServices? You’ll get messages from no-reply@esd.wa.gov asking you to sign in. Sign in and respond to those requests within five days—the sooner the better. You may also get follow-up emails from ESD. Make sure you reply to those emails directly.

Answer your phone if you get a call from 800-318-6022. If you miss a call from ESD, the only way to call back is through the main line for the claims center—and it won’t be easy to get through. Do everything you can to answer your phone and avoid calling back through the claims center. ESD’s claims centers are overloaded. The department has seen a 1000% increase in calls to its claims center, and last week was getting 100 calls per second.

What is adjudication? It’s required when ESD needs more information to determine your eligibility for benefits. There are a lot of different reasons for this. Often, the department needs more details about why you’re not working. ESD also needs to verify that you meet requirements, such as being able to work if a job is available.

Why does it hold up payment? All benefits are determined on a case-by-case basis. Your specific circumstances affect what you’re eligible for. ESD needs to confirm things like work history, any job separations, and the hours you’ve worked before the department can determine what you’re eligible for. And, if incorrect information was accidentally submitted, ESD has to verify the correct information before it can approve a claim.

Adjudication requires fact-finding and specialized expertise. Adjudicators go through extensive training to develop deep expertise. They’re different than ESD’s intake staff, who are prepared to answer more general questions. If, for example, employers give ESD information that doesn’t match, adjudicators:

  • Do more fact finding to identify the correct information.
  • Apply state and federal laws.
  • Determine if workers are eligible and the kind of benefits they can get.

Under normal circumstances, it takes around 21 days to adjudicate issues on a claim: These aren’t normal circumstances. ESD has had more applications in the last seven weeks than the previous three and a half years combined. And with so many businesses closed, it’s harder to reach employers if ESD needs to verify information with them.

It’s about due process for everyone: ESD does not want to deny your benefits because of a discrepancy and needs to ensure claims filed under your name are really you. It is important to protect you, and all taxpayers, from fraud. Unfortunately, this does take time. ESD is sorry you have to wait and is working hard to resolve all cases in adjudication as quickly as it can.

Stay tuned for more: ESD will be posting updates on its progress to resolve adjudication cases on its website at esd.wa.gov/unemployment/adjudication starting next week.