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D.C. Department of Employment Services Announces Major Changes to Unemployment Insurance Programs and Services

Tuesday, August 17, 2021
New claimant portal and unemployment website assist residents as some federal programs end and work search requirements resume near the end of August.

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Tomorrow the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) will launch a newly designed website, for the Office of Unemployment Compensation (OUC) to make unemployment benefits and resources more accessible. Features include updated menus, navigation, a more user-friendly homepage, and new content. The website is part of an agency-wide effort to help employers and workers easily find the information they need to support themselves, their businesses, and their families.

“As economic first responders, it is our job to make sure DC workers and employers are able to find answers to their questions quickly and easily,” said DOES Director Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. “We have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to reduce barriers and help people in need. Our modernization efforts are major steps toward surpassing that goal.”

The effort is part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s $11 million investment into DOES.  In addition to the new website, DOES will launch an improved claimant portal.  When visiting the portal at, claimants will immediately see impressive functional and technical improvements.  The portal adds messaging features, mobile access, easier navigation, and support in both English and Spanish. Additionally, residents will be able to use a new live chat function to communicate directly with a representative at DOES.

These modernization efforts come as DOES prepares to implement two major programmatic changes:

In accordance with changes in federal and District law, work search requirements will resume on August 30, 2021. All unemployment claimants must complete at least two work search activities each week they apply for benefits and must register with the American Job Center. Claimants must meet these work search requirements to receive traditional unemployment insurance or any benefit under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

On September 4, 2021 the following federal programs are set to expire:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
  • Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)

The benefits claimants receive as part of their weekly unemployment benefits may be impacted by these changes. The benefit amount in D.C., based on eligibility and wage information submitted to DOES, can range between $50 to $444 per week. Claimants receiving traditional unemployment insurance benefits will continue to be paid to those individuals who are eligible.

“We want claimants to take note of these changes and be prepared for how these new policies will affect how they file for benefits and how much they receive weekly,” continued Dr. Morris-Hughes. “DOES continues to be here for you. If you continue struggling to find work, we have programs such as the American Job Center and the DC Infrastructure Academy, as well as people who are ready to help.”

OUC staff has worked throughout the pandemic to process an unprecedented number of unemployment claims and implemented dozens of mandated policy changes from the U.S. Department of Labor. Throughout the public health emergency, the agency helped more than 100,000 claimants receive unemployment compensation.