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Unemployment Compensation Process

A person circling job ads in a newspaper
Updated on May 17, 2021
The DC Department of Employment Services has successfully implemented the extension of benefits under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This includes claimants that qualify under all current programs under the CARES Act (PUA, PEUC, FPUC, MEUC and EB).
District workers may file for unemployment compensation at
To begin the process of filing for your unemployment benefits, you will need to have the following information readily available:
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your most recent 30-day employer’s name, address, phone number and dates of employment
  • Your Alien Registration Number, if you are not a US Citizen
  • Your DD214, if you are ex-military
  • Your Standard Form 8 or Standard Form 50, if you are a former federal employee
  • Severance pay information (only applicable if you received or will receive severance pay)
  • Pension information/documentation
Implementing the American Rescue Plan Act
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021, extended a number of provisions that are offered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act (CAA). The CARES Act was originally passed on March 27, 2020 and the CAA on December 27, 2020 by the federal government to provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of the additional unemployment programs enacted by the CARES Act and the CAA are now effective through the week ending September 4, 2021. Additional weeks under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) programs began to process in April 2021. Claimants should continue to file weekly certifications. All owed benefits will be paid retroactively.
A summary of the changes implemented by the act is provided below:
District workers are now eligible to receive an extension of UI benefits through the following programs:
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)PUA is effective from March 14, 2021 through the week ending September 4, 2021.  PUA covers individuals who are not eligible for traditional UI benefits for up to 79 total weeks. This includes self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and gig economy workers, as well as those who have exhausted their benefit eligibility under traditional UI, PEUC, and Extended Benefits (EB). PUA is effective February 2, 2020 through September 4, 2021. No new applications will be allowed after September 6, 2021.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) PEUC is effective from March 14, 2021 through the week ending September 4, 2021.  PEUC covers individuals who have recently exhausted all rights to traditional UI under state or federal law and now provides up to 53 total weeks of unemployment benefits.
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – FPUC is effective from March 14, 2021 through the week ending September 4, 2021.  FPUC provides an additional $300 per week in supplement benefits to claimants who are eligible through traditional UI, Shared Work, PEUC, EB, or PUA. The extra $300 is available from week ending January 2, 2021 through the week ending September 4, 2021.
  • Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) MEUC is effective through September 4, 2021. MEUC provides a $100 weekly supplement to eligible individuals with annual self-employment income of at least $5,000. To be eligible for MEUC, individuals must have received at least $5,000 of self-employment income in the most recent taxable year ending prior to the individual’s application for regular UI.
  • Tax Relief for Claimants - For the 2020 tax year, the ARPA waives federal taxes on unemployment insurance benefits (up to $10,200 for individuals and up to $20,400 for married couples filing jointly, if each spouse received UI benefits) for households with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. More information about this waiver will be provided once additional federal guidance is released.
  • Tax Relief for Employers - The applicable period for emergency unemployment relief for governmental entities and nonprofit organizations is extended to September 4, 2021. Additionally, the amount of emergency relief for weeks of unemployment beginning after March 31, 2021, with an increases of 50 percent of compensation paid to 75 percent.
Important Note Related to the Implementation Effort of the American Rescue Plan Act
DOES uodated our systems to accommodate the new extensions under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Using guidance from the Department of Labor, we made system modifications to comply with the new legislation. If you are experiencing difficulties navigating the system or certifying for benefits, please contact our Customer Navigation Center at 202-724-7000, Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm, for assistance. We suggest that claimants continue to check their portals, emails, and our website as updates will be provided as soon as they become available.
Additional Funding Announced by Mayor Bowser
On February 8, Mayor Bowser announced an additional $11 million to go to DOES. The funds are used to hire additional staff and update system modifications to follow the current CAA. DOES continues to work relentlessly to ensure the agency is meeting community needs and rising to the challenge of more efficiently serving District workers.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
PUA covers individuals who are not eligible for traditional UI benefits, including the self-employed, those seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, independent contractors, gig economy workers; and those who have exhausted their benefit eligibility under both traditional UI and PEUC. As with traditional UI benefits, claimants should apply for PUA in the jurisdiction where they worked, rather than where they live. PUA is available for week ending March 14, 2021 through week ending September 4, 2021. Claimants can receive up to 79 total weeks of PUA benefits.
Any individual who receives a payment of PUA after December 27, 2020 is required to provide documentation validating employment or self-employment, or the planned start of employment or self-employment. The deadline for providing such documentation depends on when you file your initial PUA claim.
  • If you file a new PUA application on or after January 31, 2021 you are required to provide documentation within 21 days of application.
  • If you have an existing PUA claim as of December 27, 2020, or you file a new initial PUA claim before January 31, 2021, and you receive PUA on or after December 27, 2020, you must provide documentation within 90 days.
The following lists provide examples of documentation that can be used to provide proof of employment or self-employment:
Proof of Employment
  • Employer’s name, address, phone number, point of contact (Examples: Human Resources Manager, Finance Manager, Business Administration)
  • Earnings Statements or Leave Statements
  • W-2 forms
Planning to Begin Employment
  • Future employer’s name, address, phone number, and point of contact (Examples: Human Resources, Finance Manager, Business Administration)
  • Signed statements or affidavits by individuals verifying an offer of employment
Proof of Self-Employment
  • State or Federal EIN
  • Business name, address, phone number, preferred point of contact (Examples: Self - please include full name and business title, Administrative Assistant, Business Manager)
  • Business license(s) or Tax Returns or Business Receipts
  • Signed affidavits verifying self-employment
Individuals who do not provide documentation substantiating employment/self-employment (or planned employment/self-employment) within the required timeframe, as described above, are not eligible for PUA.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
PEUC covers individuals who have recently exhausted all rights to regular UI under state or federal law. It provides up to 53 total weeks of unemployment benefits. To apply for PEUC, click here and follow the link labeled “File for PEUC.”
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
FPUC covers individuals currently receiving regular UI or PUA, and individuals eligible under PEUC (see above). In addition to regular UI or PUA benefits, eligible individuals will receive an additional $300 per week. This additional benefit will be available week ending January 2, 2021 through September 4, 2021.
Extended Benefits (EB) Program
The EB program currently provides up to 20 additional weeks of UI payments to eligible individuals. This duration is subject to change based on the District’s unemployment rate.
  • In order to file for EB, you must have already exhausted your regular UI benefits and federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits.
  • The current EB period in the District of Columbia began on May 24, 2020, but EB benefits are not payable until an individual has exhausted PEUC benefits.
  • Your EB weekly benefit amount (WBA) is the same as the amount payable on your qualifying regular UI claim and PEUC claim.
  • EB payments include the $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit for eligible weeks between December 27, 2020 and September 4, 2021.
What is the High Unemployment Period (HUP)?
A High Unemployment Period (HUP) exists when the total unemployment in the District of Columbia (seasonally adjusted), as determined by the U.S. Secretary of Labor, for the most recent three months, equals or exceeds 8.0 percent. HUP benefits end immediately when the U.S. Department of Labor determines that the unemployment rate in the District of Columbia falls below federal requirements.
Current Status of HUP
Based on data released on March 15, 2021 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seasonally-adjusted 3-month average TUR for the District of Columbia rose above the 8.0 percent threshold meeting the criteria to trigger “on” to a High Unemployment Period (HUP). Therefore, beginning on April 4, 2021, the maximum potential entitlement for claimants in the EB program will increase from 13 weeks to 20 weeks. However, the number of eligible weeks is subject to change, as this information is predicated on the District’s unemployment rate.
How to Apply for EB
Individuals may file for EB at and click the Claim Unemployment Benefit tab. Upon clicking the link, please select File for EB. Complete the questions asked and enter any requested information. The process will redirect those eligible to file for the EB program to the proper application.
If a claimant has reached Benefit Year End (BYE) date, federal guidelines require all Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims to be reviewed and additional actions may be required from some claimants.
  • Claimants are required to file a new claim if they are receiving benefits under the following programs:
  • Traditional UI benefits
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
  •  Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)
 Claimants may be classified as Monetarily Ineligible until all required information is completed and reviewed by D.C. Department of Employment Services.
There is an exception.  Claimants receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will not need to file a new claim unless wages have been identified that may qualify the claimant for traditional unemployment insurance benefits.
Claimants should follow instructions on and to review benefits status.  DOES will contact claimants if any additional information is required upon the review of your claim information.
All eligible benefit payments will be issued once DOES completes the review of a claim.
How do States notify claimants and employers about the uses of their information?
For information regarding the next steps after filing an initial unemployment claim, read the
For detailed instructions regarding how to certify for weekly unemployment benefits
For detailed information regarding our Identify Verification and Authentication Program, read the following FAQs:
Service Contact: 
Office of Unemployment Compensation - Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Contact Email: 
Contact Phone: 
(202) 724-7000
Contact Fax: 
(202) 698-5706
Contact TTY: 
Contact Suite #: 
4th Floor
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm