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Washington unemployment center restricting calls to help clear up claims starting Wednesday

The Employment Security Department is limiting inbound calls from June 24 to July 5 so the agency can clear up unemployment claims.

SEATTLE — Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) will restrict inbound calls to its claim center from June 24 through July 5, according to an email alert from the agency.

This is the second time the ESD has limited incoming calls so agents could focus on outbound calling to resolve complex issues for those who have waited the longest for their benefits. Restricting calls also frees up time to process claims with simpler issues.

The agency said adjudicators were 90% more productive in May in resolving issues on claims when incoming calls were restricted.

Some Washingtonians have complained that they have been waiting for more than three months to receive unemployment benefits.

RELATED: Unemployed in Washington? Top money questions answered

Residents can still apply for benefits and submit their weekly claims online while inbound calls are limited. The ESD website said residents can also use the automated phone line to submit weekly unemployment claims by calling 1-800-318-6022.

The ESD said inbound calls would continue for the general questions hotline at 1-833-572-8400. That line is for people who have general questions that are not available on the ESD website. However, the ESD said customer service representatives at the general questions hotline cannot answer questions about specific claims.

Inbound calls will also continue for the special fraud hotline at 1-800-246-9763.

The ESD said limiting inbound calls for a week helps the agency make progress in paying eligible applicants. The agency has struggled with keeping up with the backlog of claims and rampant imposter fraud.

RELATED: What to do if you receive an unemployment benefit overpayment notice

“Limiting incoming calls for one week will allow us to make fast progress toward our goal of getting all benefits to all eligible applicants. It is also our hope that this phone service prioritization will increase the chance of reaching us for those who must apply by phone because they don’t have internet or because they need an interpreter,” a statement on the ESD website says.

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