New York Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Find out how New York unemployment benefits and eligibility work, including what happens during the application progress and the qualification criteria.

New York unemployment benefits and eligibility are administered by the New York State Department of Labor. It provides temporary financial support to people out of work or working reduced hours through no fault of their own and who meet the state's qualification criteria. New York unemployment insurance benefits are funded by employer taxation.

How Do I Apply for New York Unemployment Benefits?

You can file your first claim for New York unemployment benefits on the New York Department of Labor website. You'll need to make an ID if you don't already have one and create a PIN. You can use your ID and PIN to sign in securely and complete your application. Alternatively, you can file over the phone by calling 1-888-209-8124 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

You'll need to supply the following information to allow the Department of Labor to verify your eligibility: 

  • Social Security or Alien Registration number
  • Employer registration or federal employer identification number for your last employer
  • Driver's license number
  • The employer names, addresses and start and end dates for every job you've had in the last 18 months
  • SF8 and SF50 forms (ex-federal workers)
  • DD 214 form (ex-military personnel)

Failure to provide any necessary information could delay your first payment, and you may be asked for additional information to process your claim. It's important to keep a lookout for correspondence and respond to any requests as quickly as possible. 

Successful claimants will receive a monetary determination letter explaining the payment schedule and amount and how it was reached. You should review the information carefully and complete a request for reconsideration form if you notice any incorrect details.

You will receive your first payment between 2 and 3 weeks after your claim is approved. The first week following your claim is known as a waiting week, during which your previous employers have the right to dispute your right to benefits. You won't receive any benefits until the waiting week is over. 

You will then need to claim benefits weekly, either online or over the phone, and you should file from the date of your claim — even if your application is pending. You will need to meet various weekly eligibility criteria to maintain your right to benefits. 

How Does New York Unemployment Benefits Eligibility Work?

New York requires applicants to satisfy several monetary and non-monetary eligibility criteria to qualify for benefits. You can only receive assistance if your previous earnings exceed a certain threshold and your reasons for unemployment are considered reasonable. 

Monetary Eligibility Criteria

The New York Department for Labor assesses most applicants' financial entitlement using their earnings during the Basic Base Period. This system is similar to the base period system in most other states and counts earnings in the first four of the last five calendar quarters before your claim was filed. 

Unlike most other states, New York also allows applicants to have their eligibility calculated using their wages from the last four calendar quarters before they claim benefits. This is known as the Alternate Base Period and is normally used when a person didn't earn enough to qualify during the Basic Base period. However, you can request to use the Alternate Base Period if you believe it will result in a higher benefit amount, even if you qualify under both systems. 

To qualify, you must have earned a minimum of $2,700 in a single quarter, and your total base period wages must equal or exceed 1.5 times what you were paid in your highest-earning quarter. You must also have been paid by an employer paying unemployment insurance contributions in at least two quarters. People who earned over $11,088 in a single quarter must also have earned at least $5,544 across the remaining quarters. 

Non-Monetary Eligibility

The state of New York stipulates that successful claimants must be unemployed or on reduced hours for reasons that are not their fault. You may be able to claim benefits if you were laid off for business reasons, but you won't qualify if you were fired due to criminal activity or misconduct. 

You may be able to claim benefits if you quit unavoidably, such as to relocate for your partner's job or if your working conditions were dangerous and weren't addressed by your employer. However, you can't claim benefits if you choose to quit for personal reasons. 

Weekly Eligibility Criteria

You will be expected to be actively seeking and available for work throughout your claim period. You will lose your right to benefits if you can't prove your job-seeking activities, so it's important to keep detailed records and evidence of everything you do to try and find a job. 

Claimants are required to attend appointments at their local career center. Your benefits will be stopped if you don't engage with any services offered to you or you fail to attend a scheduled session. 

You can also lose your weekly benefits if you're not available or able to work in a certain week. For example, you can't claim for weeks when you are sick or unable to work for personal reasons. You are required to accept any suitable job offer made to you. 

How Much Will I Get?

Your benefit amount is calculated using your base rate earnings, and the maximum weekly payment for all applicants is $504.

If you were paid every quarter, the minimum amount you will receive is $143 per week. The Department for Labor divides what you earned in your highest-paid quarter by 26 if you earned more than $3,575 or by 25 if you earned less to determine your weekly amount. 

Claimants paid in two or three quarters only will have their wages for the two highest-paid quarters added together if they earned more than $4,000 and then divided by 26. If they earned between $3,576 and $4,000, their earnings for the highest-paid quarter will be divided by 26. In both scenarios, the minimum weekly payment is $143. Claimants who earned less than $3,575 will receive their earnings for the highest-paid quarter divided by 25, and the minimum weekly payment is $100.

You can choose to receive your benefits via direct transfer to your preferred bank account or on a debit card. You will need to supply your banking details if you want to receive funds via bank transfer, and this payment option is only available if you apply online. 

What If I Am Denied New York Unemployment Benefits?

If you believe that your New York unemployment benefits application was wrongly turned down, you can appeal the decision within 30 days of the sending date on your determination letter. You can appeal online by signing into your account or in writing to the following address:

New York State Department of Labor
PO Box 15131
Albany, NY 12212-5131

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