With the threat of major flooding in the Green River Valley, the Employment Security Department is urging residents who receive unemployment insurance checks by mail to sign up for direct deposit as soon as possible.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, communities downstream of the Green River's weakened Howard Hanson Dam are at increased risk of flooding this winter.
"The rainy season is starting and the flood warnings should be taken seriously," said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. "Direct deposit gives our customers the security of knowing that, no matter where they're staying, they will have access to their benefits."
To sign up for direct deposit, claimants need their bank or credit union account and routing numbers. They can then apply for direct deposit online through the agency's secure Web site at www.esd.wa.gov by typing "direct deposit" in the search box.
Written requests for direct deposit cannot be accepted and will be returned.
It takes up to 14 days for the department to receive verification from a bank or credit union. Employment Security will mail the claimant a paper check until the account information is verified. Once verification is received, Employment Security will transfer benefits electronically to the bank or credit union after the claimant files a weekly claim.
Currently, about 40 percent of unemployment claims are paid via direct deposit, up from about 20 percent a year ago.
Direct deposit is available only with banks or credit unions within the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. Direct deposit cannot be sent to banks or credit unions in other countries, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands or American Samoa.