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Apply for Benefits

This page provides step-by-step guidance on filing your unemployment insurance claim.



District employees may file for unemployment compensation at Please note that DOES no longer accepts unemployment insurance (UI) claims by phone through the Contact Center. To submit a UI claim for the first time, please visit the DC Networks site. The agency has adopted this change as a security measure to protect your private information. Our online services provide additional layers of protection to ensure that all personal details provided to DOES are safe and uncompromised. Please view the End of Initial Claims Via Contact Center fact sheet to learn more. 

Please read the Ten Things You Should Know fact sheet to learn more about filing an unemployment insurance claim.

When you’re applying for benefits, make sure you have the following documents ready:

  • Social security number
  • Most recent employer’s name, address, phone number, and dates of employment
  • Alien Registration Number, if you are not a US Citizen
  • DD214, if you are ex-military
  • Standard Form 8 or Standard Form 50, if you are a former federal employee
  • Severance pay information (only applicable if you did or will receive severance pay)
  • Pension information (only applicable if you are receiving a pension payment)
  • Evidence of a public health emergency impact (if applying due to the COVID-19 public health emergency). Documentation may include:
    • A letter documenting a voluntary request or involuntary order to isolate or quarantine from a doctor or local health official
    • A note from your doctor or medical records office recommending isolation or quarantine
    • A self-determination that the Department of Health’s quarantine guidance applies to you

To receive unemployment insurance, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be unemployed through no fault of your own
  2. Be able, available, and actively looking for work
  3. Have earned enough wages to file a claim

More information can be found on our Overview of UI Benefits webpage.



Here are the steps to file a claim for unemployment insurance:

  1. Go to and click the tab “Claim Unemployment Benefits.”
  2. On the “Unemployment Insurance Service Center for Claimants” page, click “File for Benefits.”
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “File Your Claim Online.”
  4. Answer the questions with accurate information to complete the claim filing process.

You will need to provide proof of identity to complete your application. You must provide original documents or notarized copies of a government-issued photo I.D. and your social security card. You may also be required to provide other documents that contain your name and current mailing address. You will receive instructions by phone or an email that includes the list of documents you may use as proof of identity.

After submitting your application, take a look at our What’s Next? document to see the next steps in your UI claim process.



To receive unemployment benefits, you must certify that you are able to continue receiving benefits each week, starting on the Sunday after you file your initial claim for unemployment benefits. To certify for benefits, you must file a weekly continued claim form online at, or by calling at (202) 724-7000.

Filing your claim form online or by phone is the fastest way to certify for benefits. If you are not able to file online or by phone, you may mail your form or file at any American Job Center located throughout the District.

The latest you should file your claim is seven (7) calendar days after the week-ending date on the continued claim form. If you fail to file your weekly claim within seven (7) calendar days after the week-ending date on the form, you may not receive your benefit because you did not follow reporting instructions. The system will not allow you to file a weekly claim certification for a benefit payment if the last week you claimed ended more than 14 days earlier. When this happens, you must reapply to "reactivate" or "reopen" your claim.

For help with answering the certification questions, or for basic information about weekly claims, please read our Instructions for Completing the Continued Claim Form.

For more information on work search requirements and how to comply, please reference our Work Search Requirements FAQs.



The District has an Identity Verification & Authentication security feature in the online application. If your information does not match or you do not answer the multiple-choice questions correctly, then you may not receive your benefits.

To clear this issue, you must provide the District of Columbia’s Office of Unemployment Compensation with official documents to prove your identity, including original documents or copies of the following:

  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Social security card
  • Other documents that have your name and current mailing address

A claims examiner will call or email you to ask you to submit the identity documents to a secure DOES email address: [email protected]. DOES currently does NOT require a notarized document because of the COVID-19 emergency.

Once our office receives your documents, DOES will make a decision regarding your proof of identity. Benefit payments will not be paid until the Office of Unemployment Compensation confirms your identity.

If you are not a resident of the District of Columbia, you can fax or email copies of your identity documents. A claims examiner will either call or email you with instructions to explain the process.



Once your claim has been approved, you must meet the requirements below to keep receiving your benefits:

  • Be unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Report all earnings from work, including self-employment, on your weekly claim for benefits
  • Currently receive or apply for unemployment benefits only from DC and not another state
  • Be available for work and be physically able to work
    • Claimants must be able to work and be available for work to qualify for regular UI claims. PUA provides benefits for those unavailable or unable to work because of COVID-related reasons listed in the CARES Act.