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Unemployment Insurance Benefits - New York

Individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) can access the UI system in their primary languages in a number of ways. The Department of Labor is required by federal law to provide meaningful language access to LEP individuals.

The entire UI system can be accessed in Spanish as well as English, both by phone and online. For languages other than Spanish, the UI Coalition has led an effective and ongoing advocacy campaign to improve language access at the Department of Labor. Currently, access differs based on the claimant's language and on the step in the UI process, as described below.

Filing a Claim

An original claim may be filed by phone in any language simply by calling the Telephone Claims Center at 1-888-209-8124. Claimants will be given the option to apply in English, Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Creole, or "all other languages." For languages other than the automated options, translation will be provided through the language line.

Claimant Handbook

The Department of Labor's claimant handbook, which is sent to every claimant, has been translated into Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish, and Russian. If a claimant identifies as a speaker of one of the above languages when making a claim, she should receive a copy of the handbook in her own language shortly after filing the claim. Information from the translated handbooks is also available on the Department of Labor website.

Monetary Benefit Determination

One of the most important documents claimants receive is the Monetary Benefit Determination, which states the claimant's weekly benefit amount. The Department of Labor does not translate this document. Instead, it includes a translated template of the Monetary Benefit Determination in the claimant handbooks and on its website. It also sends what is known as a "Babel notice" accompanying the determination. The Babel notice includes a couple of lines in a number of languages [confirm which ones], telling the claimant that the accompanying document contains important information about her UI benefits and that she can obtain a free translation by calling the Telephone Claims Center.

Weekly Certification

Another key step in the process is weekly certification. The automated system for certifying by phone or email is available only in English and Spanish. Translated claimant handbooks include "certification coupons" that a claimant can fill out and mail to the Department of Labor each week. Claimants who speak languages other than those with a translated handbook have no means of certifying in their own language.

Other Notices from the Department of Labor

Other notices from the Department of Labor are not translated. If a claimant has identified as LEP, the Department of Labor will include a Babel notice with each document sent to the claimant, and will provide translation by telephone.

Hearings

All claimants are entitled to an interpreter at hearings. A Spanish interpreter is always available at hearing locations. Claimants who speak other languages should notify the Department of Labor in advance of the hearing that they require interpretation.

Hearing Decisions

Administrative Law Judge decisions are not translated, although information about appeal rights is included in English and Spanish. Decisions from the Appeals Board include a translated line stating the outcome of the appeal in the claimant's language.

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