A Guide to Unemployment Eligibility in New York (NYS)

The New York Department of Labor is the state agency that oversees administering unemployment insurance claims for citizens.  It provides monetary benefits, job training, job search and other related services for those people who are actively seeking work in New York and who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. 

It is funded through employers in the state at no cost to unemployment insurance benefit applicants.

NYS Unemployment Basics You Should Know

Before applying to confirm your eligibility for NY unemployment benefits, it is important to be sure you understand these terms.

  • Base Period – The first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you file for benefits.
  • Alternate Base Period – The last four completed calendar quarters immediately before you file for benefits.
  • Extended Base Period – Available only to claimants who received workers compensation and who do not qualify for benefits based on wages earned in the base period or alternate base period.
  • Benefit Rate – the amount of money you will receive in a week if you are eligible for UI benefits.
  • Benefit Year – This is the one-year period that begins the Monday after you the week you filed your original claim.  You can be paid for benefits up to 26 weeks during your benefit year.
  • Certifying Benefits – The process of claiming weekly benefits.  Because you are answering questions about your status, you are certifying that they are true and correct to the Department of Labor.
  • UI – Unemployment Insurance.  This is the actual name of the benefit you will receive when you apply for unemployment benefits in New York.

What are the requirements for NYS unemployment benefits?

To be eligible to receive unemployment (UI) benefits in New York, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must make a reasonable effort to find suitable full-time work.  To substantiate your claim you should keep a record of your work search dates, contacts and other pertinent efforts to validate your claim.  To maintain your claim, you must do at least three work search activities each week.  The exception to this is if you have a Work Search Plan that has been approved by the Department of Labor.  Work search activities include:
  • Using employment resources at your local New York State Career Center.  These resources can include meeting with a counselor, working with staff to assess your skills and experience, participating in workshops, and following up on job referrals.
  • Visiting a job site and completing a job application.
  • Submitting a job application in response to a public notice.
  • Attending job search fairs and seminars.
  • Interviewing with potential employers.
  • Applying for employment with a former employer.
  • Registering and working with employment agencies, unions or professional organizations.
  • Taking a civil service exam an applying for government job openings.
  • For the first 10 weeks of your job search, you must look for suitable work in all of your most recent occupations.  After 10 weeks, your search must widen to include any suitable work that you are capable of doing, even if you have no training or experience in that field.
  • If you find part-time work, you must still continue to look for full-time work to maintain unemployment eligibility in NY.
  • You must be willing to travel a reasonable distance for work.  In New York, this is defined as one hour by private transportation or 90 minutes by public transportation.
  • If you are part of a union, you are required to follow your union’s requirements for registering as out of work, and you must continue your own efforts to try and find full-time work.  You must also remain in good standing with your union so you can be dispatched when work is available.
  •  You must continue to claim for unemployment benefits for as long as you are out of work.  Failure to do so in a timely manner may delay or void your benefits. 
  • You must report to a New York State Career Center in person based on a letter that will be sent you with an appropriate time and date.  The appointment is intended to help you find a job more quickly.  To find your closest New York State Career Center go here or call the state’s Contact Center at (888) 4NYSDOL (888-469-7365) between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, M-F.
  • If you are called to jury duty, you will not be denied benefits.  If you are pregnant you do not need to inform the state, as long as it does not affect your ability to look for and accept work.
  • You may be able to establish a claim based on your military service.  You will need a copy of your Form DD214 to move forward with this action.
  • If you receive a pension and are actively looking for work, you may be eligible for UI benefits.  You must meet the same conditions as all other applicants.
  • If you plan to move out of New York, you need to call the Telephone Claims Center to see how your claim can be transferred.

How to apply for unemployment in NYS.

To apply for benefits, you must log in to the New York Department of Labor website.

You can also apply by calling the Telephone Claims Center at (888) 209-8124., M-F, 8 am to 5 pm.

When you file a claim, you will be prompted to set up a Personal Identification Number or PIN.  You will use this pin when you call the Telephone Claims Center to claim your weekly benefits or to certify your benefits, using Tel-Service. 

The Telephone Claims Center can be reached at (888) 209-8124.  TTY/TTD users should call (877) 205-3119.

To file an unemployment claim, you will need:

  • your last employer’s contact information
  • the last day you worked for them
  • the reason you are no longer working for them
  • if you are receiving a pension or other income
  • if you are able and available to accept full time work
  • designation that you have the legal right to work in the United States

As part of your registration process, you may also want to explore registration for job search assistance services through the state’s One-Stop Career Centers and JobZone.

After you apply, you will receive a Monetary Determination Notice that will advise you whether or not you have met the qualifications for unemployment benefits.

If your claim is approved, instructions will be provided as to how you can claim your benefits each week, including documenting your job search activities.

How much will you be paid by unemployment each week?  When you will your NYS unemployment claim be processed and paid?

To calculate the amount of the benefit you are entitled to, the state of New York uses one of two possible base periods.  Base periods are divided into calendar quarters and the quarter you were paid the highest amount of wages determines your weekly benefit amount. 

New York’s Basic Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the beginning date of the UI claim.  If you have earned enough wages in your Basic Base Period, those wages will be used to calculate your benefit amount. 

If you do not have enough wages in the Basic Base Period to establish a claim, you may be able to use an Alternate Base Period.  It is the last four completed calendar quarters prior to the beginning of the claim.

If you have enough wages in the Basic Base Period, the state will not automatically check to see if your benefit amount would be higher in the Alternate Base Period.  If you think your benefit amount would be higher, you can request that the state use your Alternate Base Period instead.

If your claim begins:
Your base period will be:
Your alternate base period will be:
This year between
January 1 and March 31
Last year between
January 1 and September 30 and the year before between October 1 and December 31
Last year
between January 1
and December 31
This year between
April 1 and June 30
Last year between
January 1 and December 31
Last year between
April 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and March 31
This year between
July 1 and September 30
Last year between
April 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and March 31
Last year between
July 1 and December 31
And this year between January 1 and June 30
This year between
October 1 and December 31
Last year between
July 1 and December 31
and this year between January 1 and June 30
Last year between
October 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and September 30

To qualify for NY unemployment benefits, you must meet the following earnings requirements during one of your base periods:

  • You must have received wages in at least two of the quarters
  • You must have been paid at least $2,100 in one calendar quarter for claims filed in 2017.
  • Total wages paid to you must be at least 1.5 times the amount paid to you in your highest quarter.  For example, if you made $5,000 in one quarter, then the total for all four quarters must be $7,500 or higher.

Benefits are paid for up to 26 weeks and will range from $100 to $430 for 2017. 

Although New York is a highly multicultural state where many languages are spoken, at the present time Monetary Benefit Determination notices are only available in English and Spanish.  If you need to have your notice translated into a language you understand, you need to call the Telephone Claims Center for help in understanding your notice.  A translator will be provided at no cost to those who need assistance. 

To find out how much your actual weekly benefits will be, use this calculator.  Please note that this is for estimation purposes only.  The State of New York will send you notification of your exact benefit amounts and duration.

When and how will I be paid my unemployment?

It takes about three to six weeks from the time you file your first claim to when you receive your first payment due to processing and reviewing of your application.  You will not receive benefits during this time, but if you are approved, you will receive back weeks of benefits owed with your first payment.

It is important to note that the first full week of your UI claim is an unpaid waiting week.  You will not be paid any benefits during this period.  If you work at all for any reason or do not serve the full week for any other reason, the unpaid week will roll over to the next week.  You must still claim this week so that you can begin receiving benefits the following week.

While you are waiting, you need to be responsive to any requests made by the Department of Labor.  You should also claim weekly benefits as long as you are unemployed and are eligible for benefits.  This is the only way you will receive any back weeks owed to you.

The New York State Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance program issues payments to claimants through the use of a debit card issued by KeyBank.  If you have questions about the KeyBank debit card that you will use, call their customer service line at 866-295-2955.  You can sign up for the debit card option either online or by phone.  If you received benefit on a debit card in the past and you file for UI benefits again, you will receive benefits on the same debit card again unless it has expired. 

You can also receive benefits by direct deposit into your bank account as well.  Physical checks are no longer mailed.  To sign up for direct deposit, you can register on the state’s website.

What if my unemployment claim is denied? Why would my unemployment claim be denied by the state of New York?

You may be denied benefits for one or more weeks, or permanently for a number of reasons:

  • You may be denied benefits if you were fired from your job for misconduct or violating company policies, such as insubordination or excessive absenteeism. 
  • You can also be denied benefits if you quit your job or you are unemployed because of a work stoppages that was conducted in violation of an existing collective bargaining agreement. 
  • Independent contractors cannot collect unemployment benefits but some may be considered employees under certain New York laws
  • Teachers and educators cannot file for unemployment benefits between school terms or during typical vacation periods. 
  • You do not have childcare or transportation which limits your availability to work.
  • You are too sick or injured to work.
  • You did not look for work or did not accept a job that was offered to you.
  • You started school or a training program.

Can I appeal my denied unemployment claim? How do you appeal an unemployment benefit denial in New York?

If you are denied benefits for any reason, you have the right to appeal the decision by requesting a hearing in front of an impartial Administrative Law Judge of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.

You can request a hearing online by sending a message to the state through your NY.gov account. You may also request a hearing by completing a Claimant Hearing Request Form and mailing it to :  New York State Department of Labor, PO Box 15131, Albany, NY  12212-5131.

Your hearing request must be made within 30 days from the date of your determination notice.  If a ruling is in your favor, you will be awarded back benefits for the period you waited for a decision. You have the right to bring an attorney to your hearing to represent you.

If you disagree with the results of the hearing, you can appeal the decision to the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.  You must file that appeal within 20 days after the ALJ’s decision was mailed to you.

If you still disagree with that decision, you can file a further appeal with the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court.

For more information on NY Unemployment Benefits:

To contact Telephone Claims Center (TCC) staff

 By Phone:
(888) 209-8124, M-F, 8 am to 5 pm

If you are a hearing impaired individual who is being assisted by another person, call the Telephone Claims Center at (888) 783-1370; however, if you use TTY/TDD, call a relay operator first at (800) 662-1220, and ask the operator to call the Telephone Claims Center at (888) 783-1370.

If you have a general Unemployment Insurance (UI) question or a claim-specific question not answered in the Frequently Asked Questions section, you may send a secure message. Sign in with your NY.GOV ID and click on "Messages."

See How to Send a Secure Message for more information. See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Customer Tutorials to help you get started with NY.GOV ID.

 By Mail:
New York State Department of Labor, P.O. Box 15130, Albany, NY 12212-5130

 By Fax:
(518) 457-9378. Be sure that your Social Security number appears at the top right hand corner on all pages.

Save your fax confirmation sheet as we do not confirm the receipt of a fax or written correspondence.

 To Claim Weekly NYS Unemployment Benefits: 

Call 1-888-581-5812

 or go Online: It's best to claim weekly benefits or obtain benefit payment information online with your NY.GOV ID.  Go to www.labor.ny.gov/signin.

Tel-Service at (888) 581-5812. Hearing impaired claimants who have Telephone Device for the Deaf (TTY/TDD) equipment can call (877) 205-3119. Service at this number will only be provided to English and Spanish language callers using TDD equipment.

You may claim your weekly benefits Monday through Friday from 7:30 am until midnight and from 12:01am on Saturday until midnight on Sunday. 

Have a Question about Unemployment Debit Cards?: 

Call KeyBank Customer Service at (866) 295-2955

If you have a Chase Direct Payment Card that still has a balance and you have a question about that account, call Chase Customer Services at (877) 221-1634.

To request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge:

By Mail:

New York State Department of Labor, P.O. Box 15131, Albany, NY 12212-5131.

Your written request must be received within 30 days of the determination. Be sure that your Social Security number appears at the top right hand corner on all pages.

The State of New York also maintains a Claimant Advocate Office to assist people in all stages of their claims process.  For more information, call the office at (855) 528-5618, M-F, between 9 am and 4 pm.  When you call, have your Social Security number, a list of questions and important documents related to your issue.

The state of New York makes Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbooks available in several languages: 

English - Unemployment Insurance: A Claimant Handbook

English Audio Version

Albanian language version – Sigurimi i Papunësisë - Manual Udhëzues për Aplikuesit

Arabic language version - التأمي ن ضد البطالة دليل المُطالب بالمخصصات

كتيب المدعين للإعانة بمقتضى
قانون التأمين ضد البطالة
لولاية نيويورك

Bengali language version

Chinese language version - 失業保險 理賠申請人手冊

French language version - Assurance-chômage: Guide destiné aux demandeurs

Haitian Creole language version - Asirans Chomaj: Yon tiliv ki bay enfòmasyon pou moun ki fè reklamasyon

Italian language version - Assicurazione Contro la Disoccupazione - Guida per il Richiedente

Korean language version - 실업 보험 청구자 안내서

Polish language version - Ubezpieczenie od bezrobocia: Podręcznik dla osób ubiegających się o świadczenia

Russian language version - Страховые выплаты по безработице: Руководство для заявителя

Spanish language version - Seguro de desempleo: Manual del solicitante