IMPORTANT UPDATE: ESD to waive unemployment insurance overpayment debt for certain recipients.

The state unemployment insurance (UI) program is an important resource to help people who have been laid off. During the pandemic, there were many challenges that workers faced regarding the UI program. We heard from you about the barriers you faced with the Employment Security Department (ESD) and we have taken steps to improve the agency, including passing legislation to help train more ESD adjudicators in times of high demand, making ESD more responsive when its needed most. 

The most recent frustration occurred when certain benefit recipients were told they would need to pay back money that the ESD overpaid. At times, these debts totaled tens of thousands of dollars. This threatened the financial security of working families throughout Washington. 

The good news is that relief is coming for those struggling with difficulty in repaying UI benefits received during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Roughly 21,000 UI recipients from this time will have their overpayments automatically waived. If you are one of them, the Employment Security Department will inform you via letter in the next couple of weeks. If you are one of the other 115,000 dealing with overpayments, you will need to apply for a waiver starting April 7. You can apply at Any questions you may have can be answered online at or toll free at 800-318-6022. ESD asks for your patience as they will be dealing with a high volume of calls and online requests.  

This is a critical win for working families across the state and right here in the 48th district. Unemployment Insurance exists to help families when they are most vulnerable, and we need to make sure it is serving this purpose for families in our communities. 

It is important that the state continues working to make Employment Security a more effective and responsive agency. It is also vital that our actions don’t make things worse.  Unemployment insurance is here to prevent catastrophes, not contribute to them. 

Thank you,


Rep. Vandana Slatter                         Rep. Amy Walen