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How to Apply for New York State Unemployment Insurance

Here are the modifications on applying for unemployment announced by the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Last updated: March 31st, 2021

Also read: What To Do After A Year Since You Filed for Unemployment Benefits

The first thing you need to know is that the unemployment insurance benefit is delivered by the New York State Department of Labor. To qualify, the official site indicates that the following conditions must be met: 

  • Have lost your job through no fault of your own. 
  • Have received enough previous income from your job to establish a right. 
  • Be prepared, willing and able to work immediately. 
  • Actively seek work and keep a record (online or in writing) of your efforts. 
  • Have a social security number. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible (if you are undocumented, you can find out more about your options here).

For more details on how to prove each of these points, the Department of Labor published the following document: Link 

Because of the ongoing pandemic, new legislations were introduced that (a) expanded coverage to more New Yorkers, (b) provided an extra $300 weekly to those who qualify, and (c) extended the number of weeks an individual can receive benefits. These are the changes:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) also extends benefits to individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits (e.g., self-employed workers, independent contractors and farmers).  Under federal law, those receiving PUA are eligible for up to 79 weeks of benefits, or the program end date, whichever comes first. 
  • New Yorkers who are receiving regular Unemployment Insurance benefits are eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits. (This includes 26 weeks of regular benefits, up to 53 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and up to 20 weeks of Extended Benefits (EB).
  • Claimants who are receiving UI, PUA, PEUC, and EB will also qualify for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments during the weeks that FPUC program is available benefit weeks ending – 4/5/20 to 7/26/20 ($600 weekly payments) and 1/3/2021 to 9/5/2021 ($300 weekly payments).

How do I apply for the unemployment insurance? 

To receive unemployment benefits is best recommended to apply online at the site www.labor.ny.gov/signin (you must create a username and password). The hours of operation are 7:30AM – 7:30PM

You can also apply via telephone by calling the Telephone Claim Center: 1-888-209-8124

The filing hours for telephone are Monday through Friday, 8:00AM to 7:30PM

Filing by phone will give you the opportunity to use translation services. Using your phone keypad  you will have the option to choose from the following languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Polish, and All Other Languages (press 9). 

Hearing Impaired Individuals can have the helper call the Telephone Claims Center at 1-888-783-1370

What documents do I need?

  • Your social security number 
  • Your New York State driver’s license or vehicle identification card number (either one) 
  • Your address and full zip code 
  • A phone number where they can reach you Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. at 5:00 p.m. 
  • Your alien registration number (if you are not a US citizen and have a card) 
  • Names and addresses of all employers during the past 18 months, including in other states 
  • Employer Registration Number or Employer Identification Number (FEIN, From your most recent employer (the FEIN is on your W-2 forms)
  •  Copies of your SF8 and SF50 forms, if you were a federal employee 
  • Your most recent separation form (DD 214), if you were in the military

How long does it take? 

If you are eligible, your first payment will generally be made in two to three weeks from the time your claim is completed and processed. There are occasions where additional information will be collected before payments are made to your account or by mail. 

During the time your claim is processed, you would not receive any payments. But as soon as the claim is completed, you will receive payments dating back to the first week of your claim.

Things to consider:

  • If you need to update a Debit Card (where you received previous unemployment payments) you must call KeyBank at 1-866-295-2955 (toll free)
  • To see when your most recent payment was released sign in to your account
  • To speed up your application make sure to submit proof of your employment and wages– if you have no pay stubs, send any documentation that can be used as proof. 
  • In order to continue receiving your benefits, you must certify weekly. Here is how.

Note: At the moment most of the operators are working from home, so calls made to you will most likely be from a private ID number. To confirm their identity, they will provide (a) the date you filed the claim and (b) the type of claim. DO NOT GIVE ANY INFORMATION IF THEY DO NOT PROVIDE THOSE TWO IDENTIFICATION REQUISITES.

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