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Unemployment Insurance Benefits - New York

Below, you can find information that explains the basics of the rules related to unemployment insurance eligibility. The UI Coalition has also produced some fact sheets and presentations on key unemployment insurances issues that are outlined by the following topics:


Application Process

There are two ways to apply for Unemployment Insurance in New York. You can apply on-line at http://www.labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm or by calling the Department of Labor's Telephone Claim Center at 1-888-209-8124 for New York State residents or 1-877-358-5306 for out of state residents. You should apply the first week that you become unemployed and claim for benefits every week you continue to be unemployed.

Note: It is very important to answer all questions honestly on the application. If the options offered in the application do not reflect your situation, you can seek assistance from a live-person during business hours. Please be aware that there are penalties for not applying and certifying truthfully and accurately, which the Department of Labor calls a willful misrepresentation and/or a false statement.

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Do You Have Sufficient Wages to Qualify for Benefits?

To qualify for benefits you must have sufficient wages during a base period determined by the Department of Labor. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the calendar quarter in which your claim begins. See chart below.

To meet the wage requirement you must have earned income in at least two calendar quarters in your base period and have been paid at least $1600 in wages in one of the calendar quarters. The total wages earned in your base period must also be one and one-half times your high quarter wages. Wages paid in cash and wages earned, but improperly withheld by your employer, count. If you suspect that your employer has underreported your earnings to the Department of Labor, you should notify the Department to ensure those wages are included in your benefit calculation.

If you do not qualify under these conditions, you may request to qualify using an alternate base period. You must make this request within 10 days from the date of the initial monetary notice to have your rate recalculated. Click here for a copy of the form.

Your weekly benefit rate is one twenty-sixth (1/26th) of the wages you earned in the highest quarter in your base period, with some exceptions. The maximum rate is $405.

Monetary Determination

The Department of Labor will calculate your benefits based on your earnings reported by your employer and they will send you a Monetary Determination in the mail. Please review the Monetary Determination very carefully and check to make sure that all of your earnings are included and accurately reflected. As described above, if you suspect that your employer has underreported your earnings to the Department of Labor, you should notify the Department to ensure those wages are included in your benefit calculation. You will have 30 days to request that the Department of Labor recalculate your benefits in a different way if you disagree with the Monetary Determination. Click here for a copy of Request for Reconsideration Form.

To find more resources on this topic, click here.

Are You Eligible for Unemployment Insurance?

In order to be eligible for benefits, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own (you may be eligible even if you quit your job or were fired). The Department of Labor will not grant you benefits if you quit your job without a good reason. For example, if you quit to care for a family member, you may be able to establish that you separated from employment for a reason that would not disqualify you from receiving unemployment insurance benefits. However, the Department of Labor may not find you eligible for benefits if you leave your employment for a non-compelling reason such as quitting your job because you are unhappy at work. You may also be found ineligible if you were fired for misconduct, as defined by the Unemployment Insurance Law, not as determined by your employer.

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Keeping Eligibility for Benefits

  • Are you certifying weekly?
    You should apply the first week that you become unemployed and certify for benefits every week you continue to be unemployed, by using the web or telephone system, so long as you are ready, willing and able to work. If you are denied benefits, you should continue to certify for benefits every week during the period that you have been denied. If you win your hearing, you will only be paid for all the weeks that you certified.
  • Are you totally unemployed?
    You must be totally unemployed to receive full benefits. However, you can receive partial benefits if you work fewer than 4 days per week and earn less than $405 per week. Penalties for willful misrepresentation and false statement (inaccurate or dishonest statements) apply to the weekly certification process.

To find more resources on this topic, click here.

  • Are you seeking reemployment?
    To maintain eligibility for benefits, you must be ready, willing and able to work. You should be actively looking for work and tracking your efforts. You may be denied benefits if you do not look for work.

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Hearings and Appeals

If the Department of Labor denies your application, you have a right to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. You must make the request for a hearing within 30 days from the denial. You should continue to claim for benefits every week even during the period that you have been denied and if you win your hearing, you will be paid for all the weeks that you claimed. If you lose your hearing, you can appeal the administrative law judge's decision by writing to the Appeal Board in Albany within 20 days from the decision.

To find more resources on this topic, click here.

Extension of Benefits

Sometimes in periods of heavy unemployment, the federal government will extend the usual benefits of 26 weeks to a longer period. For the latest information on federal extended benefits visit www.unemployedworkers.org, the National Employment Law Project's information site on extended benefits. The New York Department of Labor website has a benefits calculator that will help you determine how many weeks of benefits you are entitled to based upon your initial claim date. That calculator can be found here: http://labor.ny.gov/ui/claimantinfo/UIBenefitsCalculator.shtm

To find more resources on this topic, click here.

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