Updated: Sept. 18, 2020

Affordable Legal Help for Unemployment Benefits

You don’t have to go it alone if you lost your job and are unable to claim your Washington unemployment benefits. Affordable legal professionals are ready to help you navigate the state Employment Security Department, understand your rights, fight against a claims denial, and secure your benefits.

You have a number of options to find a lawyer at a discounted rate, or possibly pro bono, depending on income level.

Are You Eligible?

Many Washingtonians mistakenly believe they are ineligible for affordable legal aid. However, you likely have access to a network of skilled legal professionals in unemployment law who can provide legal assistance on a sliding-fee scale that accommodates your income level.

If your annual household income is between 200% and 400% of the federal poverty level, you can receive a referral to a licensed unemployment lawyer or limited license legal technician. The WSBA Moderate Means Program is a statewide program designed to provide legal help for those who cannot otherwise afford it. In partnership with Washington’s law schools, you can be referred to a Moderate Means Program attorney who will provide reduced-fee assistance in family, housing, consumer, and unemployment law. Learn more about the WSBA Moderate Means Program.

Persons in Household

2020 Federal Poverty Guidelines for 48 Contiguous States and D.C.

 200%400%
1$25,520$51,040
2$34,480$68,960
3$43,440$86,880
4$52,400$104,800
5$61,360$122,720
6$70,320$140,640
7$79,280$158,560
8$88,240$176,480
Add $4,480 for each person over 8

Apply for Discounted Legal Help for Your Unemployment Benefits Claim

How to Find Free Legal Help for Unemployment Benefits Claims

In Washington, it is possible for certain individuals with low income (125% or less of the federal poverty level) to receive free, state-funded, civil legal representation. Additionally, there are a number of free legal resources available through legal clinics, referral hotlines, and nonprofit civil legal organizations.

Find free legal resources for unemployment benefits and other legal issues on the WSBA’s Find Legal Help page.

What to Do if Your Washington Unemployment Claim is Denied

You still have options if the state Employment Security Department denies your claim for unemployment benefits.

You can appeal your case through the Office of Administrative Hearings. It is best to consult a legal professional to help you understand the appeal process and navigate the complex state unemployment system, particularly as unemployment cases have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating long wait times and other challenges to contact state unemployment officials.

You can use the Participant Portal Guide to learn how to use the Office of Administrative Hearings Participant Portal, where you can access case information and submit documents electronically. The office’s website provides additional information on what to expect at an unemployment hearing.

PLACEHOLDER FOR LINK TO BLOG FROM MODERATE MEANS LAWYER ABOUT HOW TO FILE UNEMPLOYMENT/FIGHT AGAINST A CLAIM DENIAL