UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FOR DC WORKERS
The DC Department of Employment Services will be hosting daily webinars to answer questions regarding unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include how to complete the weekly continued claim form for unemployment benefits and provide other important information related to unemployment claims. Webinars conclude with a live question and answer session with DOES staff regarding unemployment eligibility and compliance.
Sign up here: bit.ly/UIwebinar2020
For workers affected by COVID-19
If you are a DC worker affected by COVID-19, the District has programs that may be able to help. The DC Council adopted emergency legislation to relieve the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation and quarantine for District workers and businesses.
Our strongest protection for District workers at risk of losing their paycheck is unemployment insurance. Directions on how to start the process of applying for unemployment insurance are on the Department of Employment Services (DOES) website. The quickest way to start an application is to apply online at dcnetworks.org.
The Q&A below provides answers to many of the frequently asked questions we are receiving about qualifying for unemployment benefits. This comparison chart of benefits at-a-glance lists some of the most common COVID-19 scenarios that may occur and the benefits that may apply.
Quick guides are also available for download:
- COVID Worker Benefits At-a-Glance - English
- COVID Worker Benefits At-a-Glance - Spanish
- COVID Unemployment Insurance - Eligibility (Condensed) - English
- COVID Unemployment Insurance - How It Works (Condensed) - English
- COVID Unemployment Insurance Factsheet - English
- COVID Unemployment Insurance Factsheet - Spanish
- DC Workers' Rights to Paid Sick Leave - English
- COVID Worker Benefits At-a-Glance - English.pdf
- COVID Worker Benefits At-a-Glance - Spanish.pdf
- COVID Unemployment Insurance Factsheet - English.pdf
- COVID Unemployment Insurance Factsheet - Spanish.pdf
Further details about how the US Department of Labor's (DOL) Family First Coronavirus Response Act will work are expected in April 2020, when the department publishes its regulations for its new paid sick leave and medical/family leave program.
- DOL Families First Coronavirus Response Act Overview
- DOL Families First Coronavirus Response Act Q&A
- DOL Coronavirus Website
Important Notes about Applying
Last updated on March 24, 2020
You DO NOT need to be searching for work to qualify for benefits if you lost shifts or your job because of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The DC Council waived the work search requirement through emergency legislation, but that change is not yet reflected in the online application. It is confusing, and the Bowser administration is working to fix this as soon as possible. You will not be denied when you answer “NO” on the work search question.
DOES suggests that COVID-19-affected applicants still answer “NO” on the work search question.
Some applicants have received notices of denial, but the DC City Administrator has confirmed that those claims will still be processed. Keep a file of all paperwork you receive from DOES.
DOES has waived the one-week waiting period to receive benefits once approved.
The online application system has not been updated yet to reflect this, but the waiting period is waived.
Applicants who are undocumented do not currently qualify for unemployment insurance.
The DC Council is working with the Bowser administration to find a solution to assist undocumented workers as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I eligible for Unemployment Insurance?
I received a layoff notice or significant reduction of work hours from my DC-based employer.
YES, you should apply for UI. Unemployment insurance is the best way to give you cash assistance, and your employer has been paying into the UI Trust Fund for this reason.
I work as a contractor for a DC-based business. I receive a 1099.
At this time, independent contractors are NOT ELIGIBLE for UI. This might change pending further action by the federal government. Right now, DC is setting up a grant fund to help DC-based small businesses and independent contractors. More information coming soon at coronavirus.dc.gov.
I have been diagnosed with COVID-19, I have had contact with a COVID-19 case, I have been ordered to quarantine/isolate or I have decided to self-quarantine/isolate on recommendation from doctor and that has led to temporary separation from work.
YES, you should apply for UI. Emergency actions taken by the DC Council have expanded both UI eligibility and job protections under the District’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for these COVID-19 related circumstances.
I earn money through gig work, such as Pared, Lyft, and Uber.
At this time, gig workers are NOT ELIGIBLE for UI. Again, this might change pending federal government action. Right now, DC is setting up a grant fund to help DC residents who are independent contractors. More information coming soon at coronavirus.dc.gov.
How do I apply?
It is best to use a desktop or laptop computer to fill out application online at dcnetworks.org. The application is most compatible with the Internet Explorer browser and cannot be filed using a cell phone.
If you don’t have computer and internet access, call 202-724-7000.
How much will I receive and for how long?
The maximum weekly benefit is $444 a week. If you earn less than approximately $45,000 a year, your benefit is about half of your average weekly earnings over the last year. Right now, the benefit lasts up to 26 weeks, but in other difficult economic times it has been extended.
When will I start getting my benefits?
UI cash assistance is given through direct deposit or a benefit card (like a debit card). Efforts are being made to speed process, but benefits will likely start at least 15 days after you apply.
Do I need to prove I am looking for work? And can I earn money while getting UI?
DC has waived the work search requirement temporarily. There are restrictions on how much you can earn to still qualify for UI.
What documents/information do I need when applying?
- Name, address, phone number of employer
- Dates of employment
- Social Security Number
- If not U.S. citizen, alien registration number
- If ex-military, DD-214
- If former federal employee, Standard Form 8 or 50
- Any severance pay from your employer
- Any pension benefit
Who Can I Talk to About My Rights?
Washington Lawyers' Committee Workers' Rights Clinic, 202-319-1000
Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, 202-628-1161
The Claimant Advocacy Program (CAP) of the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO, 202-974-8159 or 202-974-8149
Newsletter: COVID-19 Help for D.C. Workers and Businesses
March 17, 2020
Newsletter: COVID-19 Updates
March 13, 2020