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Washington DC Unemployment Benefits

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The unemployment compensation (UC) program is offered to residents of D.C. by the Department of Employment Security (DES). The UC program is designed to provide temporary financial assistance to individuals who are unemployed and having a difficult time finding employment in the state.


According to the DES, you must be completely or partially unemployed through no fault of your own. You must also have worked in the District of Columbia in the last 18 months preceding the date of your claim. At the same time, you must be willing to work, physically able to work, and available to take on full-time employment if it is offered to you by the DES. If you are partially employed, you must be earning less than your potential weekly benefit amount. If you are earning more than this amount, approximately 80 percent of your total earnings will be subjected to a penalty. In terms of your reason for separation from employment, you may still qualify for UC if you have quit for any of the following reasons:

  • Sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Relocation of spouse
  • Caring for a family member who is suffering from a serious illness/disease
  • Unsafe working conditions

Work Search Requirement

You must be able to prove that you are actively seeking employment while receiving benefits through the UC program. Thus, you will need to maintain a work search record that outlines your attempts to contact potential employers in D.C. Moreover, you must record two contacts for each week that you wish to receive UC.

Monetary Eligibility Requirement

Meeting this requirement will be based on the earnings from your “base period,” which is made up of the first four quarters out of the last five completed quarters of the calendar year. You must have earned enough wages in this period to be eligible for UC. In specific, you must have earned at least $1950 in total wages, and $1300 of this amount must have been earned in one of the quarters in your base period. In general, your maximum benefit amount will be 50 percent of your total wages from your base period or 26 times your weekly benefit amount; the lesser of the two possibilities will be used as your maximum benefit amount.


According to the UC program, you will not receive more than $359 per week or less than $50 per week through the UC program. In terms of the duration, you can receive UC for a maximum of 26 weeks in one benefit year (52-week period).

How to File a Claim

It is recommended that you submit your UC claim as soon as you become partially or completely unemployed. You can choose from three different application methods; your first option is to apply online; you can also apply by telephone or U.S. mail. Before you can file a claim, you will need your Social Security Number (SSN) and the details of your employment history from the last 18 months.


Department of Employment Services 4058 Minnesota Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20019 (202) 724-7000 View Website Unemployement Claim File

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