UPDATE: As of October 8th, 2021, the Department of Labor is no longer accepting new or un-submitted applications for the Excluded Workers Fund. For more information visit this link.
As the historic $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund started accepting applications, we received multiple questions from eligible applicants in our WhatsApp channel who have concerns about the program and its process.
Documented and Make the Road hosted a live Q&A where more than 1,200 New Yorkers tuned in to learn about the requirements for the program and how to ready their documents before applying. Documented reviewed more than 1,000 comments and have answered the most common questions related to the application process below.
You can watch the livestream with english subtitles here:
Questions about the Excluded Workers Fund:
Where can I apply and when is the deadline?
The application is only available online, and it can be submitted here. There is no deadline for applying, however, we encourage you to apply as soon as you have your documents ready. The funds are limited.
Are there any organizations or agencies that can help me apply?
There are more than 60 organizations helping New Yorkers apply for the funds — they can be found here. In the link you will be able to filter the agencies based on location, and language of preference.
How can I submit the documents?
You can upload photos or scans. We recommend the photos or scans to be as clear as possible, in the correct orientation so that they are not returned.
I am undocumented, can I still apply?
Yes. If you meet the requirements and have the proof requested, you can apply regardless of your immigration status. The information you provide will also not be shared with immigration agencies (ICE).
I am in the process of obtaining a legal status. If I receive this fund, will it affect my immigration case?
No. This aid will not affect your current/future immigration case.
Where can I find the template for a letter of employment?
Our friends at Epicenter-NYC created this editable document where you can fill in the information of your employer and employment here. It can be accessed here.
Make the Road NY has also created a template and guide on how you should approach your employer, and what information is necessary to have included in the letter. You can access the PDF here.
I file my taxes jointly with my partner. Can I still apply?
Yes. In correspondence with a spokesperson from the Department of Labor (DOL), Documented was told via email that individuals who filed their taxes jointly — and have not been eligible for other benefits — could still apply so long as they can provide documentation that shows a loss of income for the individual applying.
My IDNYC and foreign Passport are expired, should I wait to apply?
If your IDNYC expired last year (2020) it is valid until the end of 2021 — you can still use it for its full point value of 4. Passports that are expired (no longer than two years) can also be used, but they will only be valued at two points instead of three.
I reported more than 26,000 dollars last year. Can I still apply?
To qualify, one must have lost at least 50% of their income because of the pandemic and made less than $26, 208 last year.
I filed my taxes for 2018, should I have filed for 2019 and 2020 as well?
You only need to have the taxes for one year. It can be from 2018, 2019, or 2020.
What is the “e-filing acknowledgements from DTF or IRS”?
If you filed your taxes electronically, you should have received a notice that lists the date of when your taxes have been accepted by the IRS. For individuals who use third party/accountants, the third party should have the electronic acknowledgment letter.
How many points do I need for the maximum amount of aid from the Excluded Workers Fund?
To qualify for Tier 1 ($15,600) you will need 5 points in the proof of employment section. You can see all the documents accepted here.
If my application gets accepted and they receive all the necessary documents, when would I get the money?
According to the DOL, the application will be processed in 6-8 weeks from the date the documents are submitted. The aid will be sent in a prepaid Visa card to the address you put in the application.
Are the applications per individual or per household?
The spokesperson from the DOL told Documented that more than one qualifying person can apply, so long as they meet the requirements.
If I have my taxes, do I still need a letter of employment?
No, you only need a letter from your employer if you do not have W2’s, paystubs or your taxes.
If I worked out of state but I live in NY, can I still apply?
To qualify for the fund, individuals must have worked in a physical address in the state of New York, or the place of employment will need to be located in NYS. Unless you filed your taxes in New York State, you won’t be able to apply if you worked in another state.
If my partner received the stimulus checks, but I did not, could I still apply?
Yes, so long as you have lost the least 50% of your income, lived and worked in NYS and have the documents required by the applications.
What happens if I submit the documents but they keep asking for things I do not have?
If the EWF dashboard keeps asking you for more documents (even if you didn’t select them) then it means that you are lacking enough proof for that category. You can submit any document that can satisfy that category, even if they are not asking for it.
What happens if my Tax ID hasn’t arrived, should I wait?
While having the Tax ID number is recommended, you can still apply. But you will need to prove your employment by providing other types of documents listed in the requirements.
If I was declined, can I appeal?
Yes. You will receive a message from the DOL with the determination. To appeal, sign-in to your account immediately and follow the instructions. Applicants have 7 days from the date of determination to submit an appeal.
Do we need to pay the money back or will it be added to our taxes next year?
Any financial aid received through the fund does not need to be paid back. Taxes will already be deducted from the amount you qualify for.
What if I work different jobs or get paid cash?
For individuals who get paid cash, did not file taxes and are not able to get a letter from their employer– they can prove their employment by providing a combination of records of regular deposits (3 points), records showing consecutive commute (metro cards, parking receipts), and other proof. See the full list here.
August 12th, 2021: Article was updated with new guidelines extending appeal time from 3 days to 7 days.