New York Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

Calendar Icon Updated May 08, 2020
Unemployment

COVID-19 UPDATE: Because the coronavirus pandemic has left so many Americans jobless, the federal government has given states more flexibility in granting unemployment benefits. If you have questions about whether you’re eligible for unemployment benefits read our COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits and Insurance FAQ and check out your New York’s claimant handbook.


A guide to New York unemployment benefits

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 New York unemployment insurance benefit applicants.

How to apply for unemployment in New York

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. New York is currently offering extended telephone filing hours:

  • Monday–Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m
  • Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m..

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 New York unemployment number (the Telephone Claims Center) to claim your weekly benefits or to certify your benefits.

The Telephone Claims Center can be reached at (888) 209-8124. TTY/TDD users should call (800) 662-1220.

To file a New York 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 New York unemployment qualifications for 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.


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New York unemployment benefits contacts

To speak with Telephone Claims Center staff

By phone: 

Call the New York unemployment phone number at (888) 209-8124, M–F, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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.

In person:

You can visit a New York unemployment office at one of many locations.

By email:

If the Frequently Asked Questions section doesn’t answer your question, you can send a secure message. Sign in with your NY.GOV ID and then click on “Messages.” (See How to Send a Secure Message for more information.)

By mail:

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

 By fax:

Send faxes to (518) 457-9378. Write your Social Security number at the top right-hand corner on all pages and save your fax confirmation.

To claim weekly New York unemployment benefits

Online: 

It’s best to claim weekly benefits or obtain benefit payment information online with your NY.GOV IDGo to www.labor.ny.gov/signin.

By phone: 

Call (888) 581-5812.

Hearing impaired claimants who have TTY/TDD equipment can call (800) 662-1220. (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 a.m. until midnight and from 12:01 a.m. 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 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 your Social Security number appears at the top right-hand corner on all pages.

The State of New York maintains a Claimant Advocate Office to assist people in all stages of their claims process. For more information, call (855) 528-5618, M–F, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

How unemployment works in New York

Here’s a quick overview of how the unemployment insurance process works in New York.

  1. Before you apply, make sure you meet all benefit requirements. You must meet all requirements to be eligible to collect unemployment insurance in New York. Among other things, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own, you must be ready, willing and able to accept suitable employment, and you must conduct an ongoing job search.
  2. If you meet all benefit requirements, then you can apply for unemployment insurance. To do so, you must log in to the New York Department of Labor website or call the Telephone Claims Center at (888) 209-8124, M–F, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  3. Determine the amount of your benefit. This is calculated based on wages earned in either your Basic Base Period or your Alternate Base Period.  To find out how much your actual weekly benefits will be, use this calculator.
  4. Determine the number of weeks you can draw benefits. Based on your particular circumstances, the New York Department of Labor will send you a notice of how many weeks of eligibility you have. Normally you can draw 26 weeks of benefits in any given Benefit Year.
  5. Know how and when you will be paid. Most applicants start receiving benefits anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks after they file their first claim. Your first week of unemployment is an unpaid waiting week. Upon approval of your application, you will receive a debit card and your benefits will be loaded onto that card, or you can choose direct deposit into your bank account.
  6. Conduct an ongoing job search. You are required to look for full-time work while drawing benefits, and you must do at least three work search activities each week.
  7. You can file an appeal if you are denied benefits. If the Department of Labor determines that you are ineligible to receive benefits for one or more weeks, then you can appeal that decision within 30 days and request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.

FAQs

What New York unemployment requirements should I follow to receive benefits?

To be eligible to receive unemployment 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 New York unemployment department (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 and 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 New York unemployment benefits eligibility.
  • 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. For more information, call the state’s Contact Center at (888) 4-NYSDOL (888-469-7365) between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., 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 unemployment 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 at (888) 209-8124 to see how your claim can be transferred.

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

To calculate the amount of the benefit you are entitled to, the state of New York unemployment process 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 the amount of your New York unemployment weekly claims. While you can determine ahead of time how much New York unemployment compensation you receive, you will be formally notified before your benefits begin.

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 New York unemployment 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 31Last year between January 1 and September 30 and the year before between October 1 and December 31Last year between January 1 and December 31
This year between April 1 and June 30Last year between January 1 and December 31Last year between April 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and March 31
This year between July 1 and September 30Last year between April 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and March 31Last year between July 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and June 30
This year between October 1 and December 31Last year between July 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and June 30Last 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 $2,600 in one calendar quarter for claims filed in 2020.
  • 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 $104 to $504 for 2020.

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 New York State Unemployment?

It takes about three to six weeks from the time you file New York unemployment claims to when you receive your first payment due to processing and reviewing of your New York unemployment 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.

However, New York is currently waiving the seven-day waiting period for those who are out of work due to COVID-19. 

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 benefits on a debit card in the past and you file for 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. Physical checks are no longer mailed. To sign up for direct deposit, you can register on the New York State unemployment website.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

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 stoppage 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 unemployment 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 should know that New York unemployment extensions are not common, so it is important to do your best when searching for new work.
  • You started school or a training program.

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 New York 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.

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