How To Apply For Unemployment In District of Columbia

The Department of Employment Services, in Washington, DC, is one of the busiest offices of its kind in the United States. Unemployment claims are regularly received from unemployed US workers, military personnel separating from the service, and legal aliens working in the city on behalf of their respective governments. Use the following links to learn more:

Filing online is definitely recommended for faster service, but if you are not able to or would prefer to file your claim by phone, you can call 202-724-7000.

Required Documentation to File an Unemployment Insurance Claim  

The guidelines for identity verification in Washington, DC are strict, so please read the list of identity requirements below thoroughly and make sure you have the required documentation available before applying for unemployment insurance benefits. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Valid Social Security Number
  • Thirty-Day Work History with Employer Contact Information
  • Alien Registration Number (Non-Citizen)
  • Your DD-214 if you’re separating from the military
  • Standard Form 8 or Standard Form 50 (federal employees)
  • Severance Pay Details
  • Pension Information

Don’t start the claim process if you don’t have all your required documentation in hand. You will not be able to complete your claim without these.

Waiting Period and Work Search Requirement

There is a waiting period of one week before you’ll start receiving benefits. As of March 15, 2020, that waiting period has been temporarily waived, but this situation is likely to change later in the year. To be on the safe side, expect to have to wait for your first payment. The amount of that payment will be determined by your previous average income.

The work search requirement has also been temporarily waived due to job availability during the Covid-19 crisis, but that is also expected to change when the economy opens back up in a few months. The Department of Employment Services is providing regular updates on unemployment insurance requirements on their claimant page Here.

Job Search and Training Programs

The DC Department of Employment Services, through a partnership with DC Networks, offers job search, job training, and educational resources for unemployed workers. Under standard unemployment insurance guidelines, you will be required to search for a new job while collecting unemployment benefits. DC Networks maintains a list of available job openings in the Washington, DC area on their website, which you can access Here.

The United States Department of Labor offers Trade Adjustment Assistance for unemployed workers seeking to change professions or advance in their current profession. Acceptance and participation in a TAA-approved program could make you eligible for an unemployment insurance benefits extension. Visit the US DOL website ( for more information.

Unemployment Fraud is a Serious Crime

Make sure you read all unemployment insurance requirements carefully before submitting your claim. Receiving unemployment insurance payments under fraudulent circumstances is a serious crime and ignorance of the guidelines is not a valid defense. Unemployment fraud is punishable by significant fines or even imprisonment.

District of Columbia Unemployment Insurance Program

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