Four things to keep in mind before filing for unemployment

Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians will soon be able to get unemployment benefits. On Sunday, the federal CARES Act kicks in, and new provisions will hit the state’s website.

The Employment Security Department is doing a major overhaul of their website on Saturday in preparation for the change.

“We do know there is going to be a tsunami of demand for this,” said Suzi LeVine, commissioner for the state’s employment department.

A Mead man got laid off recently from his job at Fiber-Tech, which makes panels for trucks. He tried to apply for unemployment this week.

“When I applied, I was denied because I don’t meet the hour requirements right now,” said Tristan Booth.

Now, Booth and others who have been laid off or are now unemployed will get some help. Eligible workers will get an extra $600 a week with the CARES Act. It also opens up additional benefits to independent contractors, self-employers and those who didn’t meet the hour requirement.

“People are still in deep need,” LeVine explained. “And we know that there are hundreds of thousands, if not more, who will be eligible for unemployment assistance and was looking forward to this expansion.”

For those who applied and got denied, the department will be sending out a note to those people and encourage them to reapply.

The benefits have expanded from 26 to 39 weeks and the one-week waiting period has been waived.

To help with a smooth transition, here’s what the department wants you to do:

Unemployment Key Steps

For contractors and self-employed workers, filing will take a little longer.

“We don’t already have their wage data, so they’re going to need to upload that wage data to us and we’re going to need to review it,” LeVine said.

During the application, there is going to be additional steps you need to take, which LeVine said she acknowledges is not the most ideal.

“It’s going to be a two-step process,” she said. “You’re going to go through and fill out the unemployment insurance form. At the end of that it’s going to state that you’re ineligible — give you another link for unemployment assistance.”

As far as questions, LeVine urges people to go online for answers to questions. She said 60% of the people who have been calling for help could’ve found the answer on their website.

She said money will hit accounts in 24 to 48 hours if you have direct deposit. If not, it’ll take five to seven days.

“That’s actually a really great feeling because I got a lot of bills I got to pay,” he said. “It’ll definitely help with that burden.”

You have to file weekly claims after approval. Your first check might also be bigger than the rest because the pay is retroactive to your date of eligibility.

Additionally, workers still waiting on their stimulus checks are encouraged to check the Internal Revenue Service website here.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19: A breakdown of the latest numbers in Washington and Idaho