As of October 7, 2023, the Employment Security Department (ESD) updated one of their rules that governs what happens when a claimant fails to respond to questions.
One problem that can occur when you file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits
At any time, ESD can ask you for information. Even if you have received all the benefits you are eligible for or you have started a new job, ESD may still ask you for more information.
In many cases, ESD may simply be asking you to verify your identification documents. This may be due to you updating your address or your bank account, normal and ordinary processes that trigger identity verifications. In this case you get a “fact finding,” which is a set of questions requiring you to submit your identity documents and you have ten business days to respond. If you fail to respond within the ten business days, ESD can ask you to repay all the benefits you have received and they can even disqualify future claims.
This process can create major problems for claimants. The letter that requested the information may be hidden in a previous claim. Also, the fact finding that was issued, disappears after the tenth business day if you do not respond. You may not be able to find it in your eServices account.
As a result, many people who were eligible to receive benefits when they filed weekly claims were marked as disqualified and they didn’t know what happened.
The Employment Security Department’s solution
Fortunately, there is a policy team within ESD that is examining ways to improve ESD’s processes. They are always looking for new ways to update existing laws in a cost-effective way that improves the overall flow and outcome of claims that should otherwise be eligible while reducing the impact on claimants. When they find a potential solution, they engage in a rulemaking process.
State law allows ESD to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and impact study, collect public input, and then potentially create a new rule.
This process has been playing out for the law that governs failure to respond since February of 2023. And on October 7, 2023, it went into effect.
The new law on responding to requests for information from the Employment Security Department
The law is Washington Administrative Code Provision (WAC) 192-140-035: What happens if I do not respond to a request for information?
It previously said “This denial is for an indefinite period of time until you provide the requested information.”
After the rulemaking process they added, “or You qualify for a new, separate unemployment claim and the information requested under subsection (1) of this section is not relevant for your new claim; or (c) The request for information was made pursuant to a quality control review under 20 C.F.R. § 602.11 and your response is no longer needed for the quality control review.”
This is a major win for claimants and the entire system.
You can read more about this in the following news brief:
If you have been denied benefits because the ESD claims you failed to respond to a notice, contact WEBA. We can help. Click here to schedule a free consultation.