NYS Unemployment Insurance: A Complete Guide For You

Can’t figure out how to file for NYS unemployment insurance? Well, fret no more, because you have to come to the right place. Read this article to find out all you need to know about NYS unemployment insurance and how you can apply for it.

Unemployment benefit programs play an essential role in the economy by protecting workers’ incomes after layoffs, improving their long-run labor market productivity, and stimulating the economy during recessions. It provides an allowance to individuals when they are removed from their job due to lack of work or circumstances that are no fault of their own. This policy is designed to immediately tackle the risk of out-of-work poverty while at the same time creating incentives for individuals to look for a job and increase their employability.

When you consider the ongoing pandemic, it’s safe to say that people are lacking in job security. Roughly 9.6 million U.S. workers lost their jobs during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The federal government established provisions designed to help unemployed Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Each state has an unemployment insurance program, but all states are required by federal law to follow specific guidelines. Federal law makes unemployment benefits available across state lines. The program is overseen and enforced by the United States Department of Labor in each state.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began affecting businesses in early March, the New York State Department of Labor has distributed over $4.6 billion in unemployment benefits. Since March 9th, the DOL has processed over 1.6 million completed unemployment benefit applications, including traditional unemployment insurance and the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

Continue reading for a complete guide on NYS Unemployment Insurance. Find out if you’re eligible today and claim your unemployment benefits.

What is NYS Unemployment Insurance?

NYS Unemployment insurance (UI), also known as unemployment benefits, is a type of state-provided insurance that provides an allowance to individuals when they are removed from their job due to lack of work or circumstances that are no fault of their own. This initiative is a joint program between the individual state government and the federal government. The New York State departments (NYSDOL) determine if they require a business to pay unemployment insurance. You can receive Unemployment Insurance benefits for a maximum of 26 full weeks during one year called a “benefit year.” In New York State, employers pay for benefits, not workers. No deductions are taken from workers’ paychecks for Unemployment Insurance. They also decide if an employee is classified to receive unemployment insurance

It only provides unemployment insurance, in the form of cash stipends, to unemployed workers who are actively seeking employment. This policy is designed to immediately tackle the risk of out-of-work poverty while at the same time creating incentives for individuals to look for a job and increase their employability.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for New York State Unemployment Insurance?

The three eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits in New York are:

  • Your past earnings must meet certain minimum thresholds.
  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by New York law.
  • You must be available to work.

Do You Meet the Minimum Earnings Requirement?

All the states examine your recent work history and your earning during a one-year “base period”. This allows them to determine your eligibility for unemployment compensation. In New York, the base

Virtually all states look at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year “base period” to determine your eligibility for unemployment compensation. In New York, as in most states, the base period is the earliest four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your claim for benefits. For instance, if you filed your claim in October 2020, the base period would be from June 1, 2019, to May 31, 2020.

For those who are unable to meet the earnings requirements (below) in the regular base period, New York recognizes an alternate base period. The alternate base period is the person’s last four completed quarters before filing for unemployment. This alternate period considers more recent employment. Even filers who qualify using the regular base period can ask the agency to calculate their benefits using the alternate base period if it results in a higher weekly amount.

During the base period, your work history and earnings must meet all three of the following requirements:

  • You must have worked in at least two of the four calendar quarters comprising the base period.
  • In 2021, you must have earned at least $2,700 in the highest-paid quarter of the base period.
  • Your total earnings in the base period must be at least one-and-a-half times your highest-paid quarter earnings. If you earned more than $11,088 in the highest-paid quarter, the agency will calculate your earnings for that quarter as $11,088. In other words, regardless of how much you earned in your highest-paid quarter, your total earnings during the base period cannot exceed $16,632 ($11,088 x 1.5).

Are You Out of Work Through No Fault of Your Own?

The NYS unemployment policy deems people who are laid off, lose their job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or get “downsized” for economic reasons to be eligible for unemployment issuance. If you are fired because your employer assumes that you are unqualified for the job, or perhaps you fail to meet the employer’s performance or productivity standards, you will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Following the policy, you must not be out of work due to any fault of your own.

In New York, employees who are fired for work-related misconduct may not be eligible for unemployment benefits. Violations of company policy or rules, such as those prohibiting absenteeism or insubordination, are examples of work-related misconduct. If you are fired for being convicted of a felony (or admitting to committing one), you will also be ineligible for benefits. If you quit your job, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits unless you had a good reason to do so.

Are You Available and Actively Searching for Work?

To be eligible for unemployment insurance, you must be able to work, available to work, and looking for work. If a suitable position is offered to you, you must accept it. A suitable position is one that you are qualified for based on your education and experience. Even if the position pays less than what you used to make, you may not turn it down if it pays the prevailing wage for similar work. You must maintain written records (online or written) of your job search activities. If you are called in for a personal interview by a state agency, you may be asked to bring these records with you.

What are the Requirements to file a claim?

The best way to file a claim is online by signing in or creating an NY.gov ID account. If this is your first time filing for a claim for benefits in New York State, you must create a PIN. This is a four-digit number that you must keep confidential. This PIN will be used to access the system to certify for weekly benefits and update your account.

The requirements to file a claim are:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your driver license or Motor Vehicle ID card number (if you have either one)
  • Your complete mailing address and zip code
  • A phone number where they can reach you from 8 am – 5 pm, Monday –Friday
  • Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. Citizen and have a card)
  • Names and addresses of all your employers for the last 18 months, including those in other states
  • Employer Registration number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your most recent employer (FEIN is on your W-2 forms)
  • Your copies of forms SF8 and SF50, if you were a federal employee
  • Your most recent separation Form DD 214, for military service
  • You can file a claim without all of these documents. However, missing information can delay your first payment.
  • If you cannot print web pages, have a pen and paper to copy information.
  • If you choose direct deposit of your weekly benefits, you will need your bank routing and checking account numbers. You cannot choose direct deposit if you file your claim by telephone.

How to file a claim?

Following are the steps to file a claim online:

  • Go to labor.ny.gov/signin.
  • Click “Sign In.” Enter your ny.gov username and password.
  • On the My Online Services page, in the Unemployment Insurance section,
  • click “Unemployment Services.”
  • Click “File a claim”

To file for a claim through telephone: Call their Telephone Claims Center Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 888-209-8124. Interpreters are available for most languages; press 9 for an interpreter. For TTY/TDD users, call a relay operator at 800-662-1220 and ask the operator to call 888-783-1370. In case you use a Video Relay System or another type of relay service, contact your relay operator and ask the relay operator to call 888-783-1370.

In case you don’t have an NY.gov Id Go to labor.ny.gov/signin. Click “Create NY.gov Account” to create a new NY.gov account. For further assistance, call the Department of Labor Contact Center at 800-833-3000 between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Press option 2 to speak to a representative at the Department of Labor Contact Center.

To ask questions by the secure message:

  • Sign in at labor.ny.gov/signin.
  • Click “Sign In.” Enter your ny.gov username and Password.
  • On the My Online Services page, in the Messages section, click “Go to My Inbox.” Select “Compose New”
  • select the subject of your question.

How to check the status of benefit payments

  • Online:

Go to labor.ny.gov/signin, click “Sign In,” enter your NY.gov username and password. On the My Online Services page, in the Unemployment Insurance section, click “Unemployment Services,” and then choose “Claim weekly benefits.”

  • Telephone:

Call 888-581-5812, our Tel-Service automated phone system, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • TTY/TDD users (deaf or hard of hearing):

Call a relay operator at 800-662-1220 and ask the relay operator to call 888-783-1370.

  • Video Relay Users:

If you use a Video Relay System or another type of relay service, contact your relay operator and ask the relay operator to call 888-783-1370.

Claiming and receiving weekly benefits

Once you have filed a claim for benefit, you must also claim weekly benefits for each week you are unemployed and meet the eligibility requirements. This process is known as “certifying for benefits.” During this process, you are confirming that you are unemployed and eligible for unemployment benefits. If you are eligible, your first payment will generally be made in two to three weeks from the time you file your claim. You will receive your benefits via direct deposit or bank debit card.

In some cases, they require additional information before payment can be made and your first payment may take longer. They use this time to review and process your application for benefits. You will not receive benefits during this period. The department of labor may contact you by the means of Calls, Emails and ask you to fill questionnaires and online forms. If they deem you to be ineligible, you will receive a determination explaining the reason. If you disagree, you may request a hearing within 30 days from the date of the determination.

How are the weekly benefit rates calculated?

How we calculate your weekly benefit rate If you were paid wages in all four quarters of your base period and your high quarter wages are:

  • More than $3,575: Your benefit rate is your high quarter wages divided by 26. If this calculation is less than $143, your benefit rate is $143.

Example: Your high quarter wages are $4,030. Your weekly benefit rate is $155 ($4,030 ÷ 26 = $155).

  • $3,575 or less: Your benefit rate is your high quarter wages divided by 25 or $100, whichever is higher.

Example: Your high quarter wages are $3,000. Your weekly benefit rate is $120 ($3,000 ÷ 25 = $120).

If you were paid wages in only two or three-quarters of your base period and your high quarter wages are:

  • More than $4,000: Your benefit rate is the average wages of your two highest quarter wages, divided by 26. If this calculation is less than $143, your benefit rate is $143.

Example: Your high quarter wages are $4,500 and your next highest quarter wages are $4,288, an average of $4,394 ($4,500 + $4,288 = $8,788, $8,788 ÷ 2 = $4,394). Your benefit rate is $169 ($4,394 ÷ 26 = $169

  • $3,576 to $4,000: Your benefit amount is your high quarter wages divided by 26. If this calculation results in less than $143, your benefit rate is $143.

Example: Your high quarter wages are $3,640. This results in a benefit rate of $140 ($3,640 ÷ 26 = $140). Since this is less than $143, your benefit rate is $143.

  • $3,575 or less: Your benefit amount is your high quarter wages divided by 25 or $100, whichever is higher.

Example: Your high quarter wages are $3,000. Your weekly benefit rate is $120 ($3,000 ÷ 25 = $120).

How much will I receive in unemployment benefits?

Your benefit amount is based on your earnings; the maximum weekly benefit in New York is $504 (people who make approximately $52,000+ will receive the maximum). Plus, the recent federal Coronavirus stimulus bill provides for $600 per week in addition to your weekly benefit from the state. Anyone who receives state unemployment benefits will receive the additional federal money. You do not apply for it separately; it will automatically be added to your state benefits. If you are already receiving unemployment, it will be added going forward. The $600 federal benefit is also available to some unemployed workers who are not eligible for benefits from the state

What is the amount and duration of NYS Unemployment Insurance?

Benefits are available for up to 26 weeks. If you are still unemployed when your regular state benefits run out, you may be eligible for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and/or state extended benefits during periods of economic recession or high unemployment. Contact NYSDOL to find out which programs are in place when you apply for benefits.

Claims in case of Partial Employment

You must report all work, including part-time or temporary work. If you do not report all work when you claim weekly benefits, you may be subject to severe penalties including the loss of benefits, civil and criminal penalties, and fines.

As of January 18, 2021, New York State has implemented a new rule that redefines how part-time work impacts unemployment benefits. The partial unemployment system uses an “hours-based” approach. If you lost work and you are working part-time 30 hours or fewer a week and making $504 or less per week, the following guidelines apply when reporting your part-time work. Effective August 16, 2021, and forward, claimants should refer to the following guidelines when reporting part-time work (round up to the nearest hour):

  • 0 – 10 hours of work = 0 days worked: No reduction in the weekly benefit rate
  • 11 – 16 hours of work = 1 day worked: 75% of weekly benefit rate
  • 17 – 21 hours of work = 2 days worked: 50% of weekly benefit rate
  • 22 – 30 hours of work = 3 days worked: 25% of weekly benefit rate
  • 31+ hours of work = 4 days worked: 0% of weekly benefit rate

For What Reasons Can Unemployment be denied?

If your unemployment claim is denied, you will receive a Notice of Determination from the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL). The determination will explain why your claim was denied and provide information on the appeals process.

Common reasons why unemployment claims are denied include:

  1. Voluntary quit and discharge:

You may be disqualified from receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits if we determine that:

  • You quit a job without good cause, or
  • You were discharged (fired) for misconduct

A disqualification for these reasons lasts until you work again and earn at least ten times the benefit rate we calculated when you filed your claim. Earnings from self-employment will not count. Once you have earned enough from employment to end the disqualification, you must also be out of work again through no fault of your own. If you left your job for good cause, you will not be disqualified from receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Examples of good causes include:

  • A domestic violence situation where your safety, or the safety of your immediate family, would be at risk if you stayed in the job
  • If a member of your immediate family has an illness or disability that requires you to take care of them for longer than your employer is willing to grant time off (paid or unpaid)
  • If your spouse’s employment location changes and you must move with them to a place where you cannot easily commute to your job
  • The Department of Labor determines that your pay and/or hours of work were reduced substantially
  1. Job refusal:

You can also be disqualified from receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits if, after applying, you refuse to take a job that meets the qualifications:

Examples of good causes include:

  • The job would interfere with your right to join or retain membership in a labor organization, or interfere with or violate a collective bargaining agreement
  • There is a strike, lockout, or another industrial controversy in the establishment where the employment is offered
  • The employment is an unreasonable distance from your residence or travel to and from the employment is substantially more expensive than that required in your former employment
  • The wages, compensation, hours, or conditions are substantially less favorable than those prevailing for similar work in the locality or are such that they depress wages or working conditions
  • You customarily worked part-time in the 18 months before you filed your claim, and the offer of employment is not comparable to your part-time work
  1. Strike and another industrial controversy, except lockouts:

If you lose your job due to a labor dispute, such as a strike, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Normally, the strike must last for 14 days before you are eligible to receive benefits. This is called a suspension period. The suspension period does not apply if you are locked out of your workplace due to a labor dispute. You may be eligible sooner if:

  • The labor dispute ends and you are still unemployed, or
  • Your employer hires permanent replacement workers
  1. Availability, capability, and word search. You will be denied benefits if you are:

  • Not ready, willing, and able to work
  • Not prepared to take a job immediately
  • Not physically or mentally capable of employment
  • Not actively seeking work and keeping a record of your work search activities (online or written) for

each week that you claim benefits

If you are not eligible for benefits because you are not available for or capable of work, you

can become eligible when you show the Department of Labor that you are again available for

employment, capable of working and actively seeking work, and keeping a record of your work

search activities. You must attend required appointments at your local Career Center. If you do not go to your required appointment, your benefits will be stopped immediately. The first thing you need to do is immediately go, in person, to the New York State Career Center listed on your appointment notice during their business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  1. Criminal acts:

You will be disqualified from receiving benefits for 12 months after you lose employment, whether you quit or are fired, if you:

  • Lost your job for committing a felony in connection with your employment, AND
  • You admitted guilt in a signed statement or were convicted of the felony In addition, wages paid to you for employment that ended in criminal acts cannot be used to establish a claim.
  1. Incarceration:

If you are in jail or prison, you are not available to accept work immediately. Therefore, you are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Also, it is against the law for you to allow or direct anyone else to claim weekly benefits for you while you are incarcerated. There may be other, less common circumstances that can prevent you from being eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits.

How to Challenge a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in New York?

If your unemployment benefits claim is denied in New York due to work and earnings requirements, you can request reconsideration by providing additional information. For other reasons, like quitting without good cause, you’ll receive a separate determination notice.

To appeal, submit a written request for a hearing within 30 days of the notice. Clearly explain why you believe you qualify for benefits. For instance, if denied due to job termination, clarify your circumstances concisely.

Continue filing weekly claims and documenting your job search during the appeal. If successful, you could receive retroactive benefits, contingent on following benefit rules. An administrative law judge will decide your appeal, with further recourse to the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board if needed.

For comprehensive guidance on the process, visit the New York State Department of Labor’s website. They offer details on applying for benefits, eligibility criteria, appeals procedures, and more under “Unemployment Assistance.”

Conclusion

In 1931, New York State introduced its unemployment insurance program, which has since supported countless individuals, particularly during crises like the Covid-19 pandemic. During this period alone, the New York State Department distributed over $4.6 billion in benefits, highlighting its crucial role in aiding the community. This program continues to provide essential support to those in need. Apply today to access your entitled benefits and support your financial well-being.

John Otero

John Otero

John Otero is an industry practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry. He has held various senior management roles both in the insurance companies and insurance brokers during this span of time. He began his insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. He got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how he fell in love with the industry. He saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. John has diverse experience in corporate & consumer insurance services, across a range of vocations. His specialties include Major Corporate risk management and insurance programs, and Financial Lines He has been instrumental in making his firm as one of the leading organizations in the country in generating sustainable rapid growth of the company while maintaining service excellence to clients.