The NY Department of Labor (DOL) is the main agency tasked with managing the state’s unemployment insurance program, including processing claims and paying benefits for the federally funded enhanced UI benefit programs.
With the expiry of pandemic unemployment programs, only traditional state unemployment is now available for new claimants. Details around the pandemic benefit programs and state unemployment is covered in the sections below.
Please also see the many comments at the end of the article where people have shared their stories, tips and struggles getting paid under one or more of these programs.
Current Unemployment Benefits in New York
With the expiry of the pandemic unemployment programs only traditional state unemployment benefits will be available in 2022, up to a maximum of 26 weeks, with a weekly payment ranging from $108 to $504 depending on your earned income over the “base period” – which is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the effective date of your initial claim.
The maximum weekly benefit is expected to increase each year until 2026, when it is expected to be set at 50% of the state’s average weekly wage. You can use this NY DOL tool to estimate your weekly benefit.
Note that to qualify for unemployment, your job or income loss will generally need to be involuntary. I.e. job loss through no fault of your own. You also need to certify and demonstrate ongoing work search requirements (see section below) to keep getting payments.
Claimants will also need to apply or reapply for UI benefits when they reach the end of their current benefit year.
End of Federal Enhanced Benefits and Retroactive Payments
The PEUC, PUA, MEUC and FPUC programs expired on the week ending September 4, 2021. From September 5th, all federally funded enhanced unemployment benefits, including the extra $300 weekly payment ceased. Only traditional state unemployment benefits will be available, up to a maximum of 26 weeks.
Any active claims, with or without remaining balances, will expire after this date and any weeks after Sep 5th will NOT be paid. The only exception are retroactive benefit payments for validated claims after a successful determination or appeal in line with US DOL guidelines.
While there was a lot of discussion around extending pandemic unemployment benefits by states using already allocated stimulus funding, this was not done. The NY DOL instead is supporting return to work programs.
Some claimants may be eligible for State Extended Benefits (SEB), but claimants must have a regular UI claim to continue receiving benefits. Otherwise claimants will need to apply or reapply for UI benefits when they reach the end of their current benefit year (see your online payment history for this date). They must also have worked and earned enough qualified wages in the benefit year to qualify.
Applicants who received no wages from covered employment during the past five quarters will not be eligible for a new UI claim. Further they must be actively looking for work to keep getting benefits.
New Yorkers can also apply to the Excluded Workers Fund (EWF) which provides financial help eligible resident workers who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic and were left out of various federal relief programs. Applicants must submit proof of NYS residency prior to March 27, 2020 AND proof of current NYS residency.
Will New York (NY) Unemployment be Extended Again in 2021 or End Early?
With several states ending federally funded unemployment benefits earlier than planned (see full list) to encourage workers to return to work, there was a concern this action could spread nationwide. But the good news for unemployed New Yorkers is that most of the states cancelling unemployment benefits are Republican led, which New York is most certainly not.
As a result New York is keeping ALL pandemic unemployment benefits, including the extra $300 weekly payment, until the current program end date which would be the week ending September 4th, 2021 in NY.
However it should be noted that work search requirements are being more rigorously enforced by the NY DOL and there will be a lot more scrutiny of job rejections if not for pandemic or health related reasons. I will post further updates as they come to light and you can stay connected via the options below.
25-week Unemployment Program Extensions Under Biden ARP Stimulus Package
Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enhanced unemployment benefits will be extended until September 6th. This includes the following extensions:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – The PUA program, designed for freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors or those that generally don’t qualify for regular state unemployment, has been extended by another 29 weeks (actual duration of extension is 25 calendar weeks). This brings the total number of weeks in the program to 79. The minimum PUA payment is still 50% of a states average weekly benefit amount and limited to the state’s maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA).
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – The new stimulus bill funds another 25 weeks of weekly supplementary/extra unemployment at the current $300 level. Payments for the $300 weekly payment will continue until early September for a total of 25 weeks and eligible claimants – those getting at least $1 from state and federal unemployment programs – can get a maximum of $7,500 if they qualify for all weeks covered in this new extension. The other $100 supplementary payment for Mixed Earners (MEUC) was also extended by 25 weeks.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – The PEUC program, which extends coverage for those who have exhausted regular and extended state unemployment, has also been extended for another 29 weeks, bringing the total amount of PEUC coverage to 53 weeks. The actual duration of extension is 25 calendar weeks.
There also provisions in the Biden Stimulus package for Unemployment tax breaks on the first $10,200 of benefits.
Payment Status of 25-week Extensions in New York – Latest News and Status on PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC
The Federal Department of Labor (DOL) has now issued formal guidelines for states to implement the latest unemployment extensions. The NY DOL has updated their program/systems to process the 25-week of pandemic unemployment benefit extensions for new and existing claimants. The NY DOL will notify claimants if they need to take any manual action to resume payments or address benefit year end issues (see below). Anyone currently collecting unemployment in any amount will also receive the $300 FPUC supplemental benefit.
Benefit Year End (BYE) Date
With many New Yorkers having received unemployment benefits for over 12 months, they would have reached their benefit year end date and in some cases need to file for a new claim. But there are some exceptions noted per NY DOL guidelines:
If you have not worked for an employer OR have worked for an employer but have not earned 10 times your
weekly benefit rate since filing your initial claim: Continue to certify on your existing claim. You can keep
certifying on your existing claim. You do not have to reapply if you did not return to work, but if you choose to
reapply, NY DOL will review your eligibility for a new claim.
If you have worked for an employer AND earned 10 times your weekly benefit rate since filing your initial claim:
You must file a new claim. If you continue to claim on an expired claim, your benefits may be stopped. If you need to file a new claim, the best way to file a new claim for benefits is online. Go to labor.ny.gov/signin and click “File a Claim.” Alternatively, you can also file a new claim through the NY DOL automated telephone service by calling 888-209-8124.
2021 Unemployment Program Extensions Under COVID Relief Bill
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment.
These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks (not including state extensions), covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to March 14th, 2021. To receive FPUC benefits, you must be receiving UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA. FPUC benefits cannot be backdated, and can only be provided starting the week ending January 3, 2021.
NY DOL 2021 Employment Extensions Payout Update
In New York, PUA is now available through March 14, 2021 or for 57 total weeks of eligibility, whichever comes first. PEUC is now available through March 14, 2021 or for 24 total weeks of eligibility, whichever comes first. State Extended Benefits offers either 13 or 20 weeks of additional benefits on top of the weeks of PEUC benefits, depending on New York State’s unemployment rate. That means New Yorkers may be eligible for a total of 63 or 70 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits, depending on when they filed their claim and if the federal government considers New York to have “high unemployment” or “extremely high unemployment.” As of January 2021, New Yorkers qualify for 20 additional weeks of Extended Benefits.
Claimants currently receiving benefits through the Extended Benefits program must finish all 20 weeks of EB before receiving additional weeks of PEUC. Claimants who have established PUA or PEUC claims on or before 3/14/21 and are still eligible for additional weeks may continue to claim benefits until they have collected the maximum number of weeks OR reach the week beginning 4/5/21, whichever comes first.
How to claim the extended benefits
If your benefit year has expired, you can file a new claim online to receive extended benefits. However if your benefit year has not expired, but you exhausted your original benefits, you should begin re-certifying to receive extended benefits. If your benefit year has not expired, but you stopped claiming benefits before your benefit weeks were up (for example, if you went back to work), simply begin certifying for benefits again to start receiving benefits.
Extra $300 Unemployment under Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program
The NY DOL has paid out the $300 weekly payment approved under the LWA program, which provides supplemental payments to eligible unemployment benefits claimants who have been unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 and are currently eligible to receive at least $100 per week in benefits. All New Yorkers getting UI benefits currently will be eligible for the LWA since the minimum benefit is $104 in the state. There were a maximum of 6 weeks or $1800 funded under this program and all payment weeks have now been processed.
If you have not received your payment or you may have been eligible for this payment, you will need to contact the NY DOL (833-491-0632) for retroactive payments. However due to the limited funding for this program, you may not be able to get the extra money any longer.
CARES Act Unemployment Compensation Enhancements for Coronavirus / COVID-19 Relief
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020 expands Reemployment Assistance benefits. Benefits will be paid from the date they became eligible under the CARES Act. Programs included in the CARES Act are:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – provides up to 46 weeks of benefits per week to those not ordinarily eligible for Reemployment Assistance. This includes individuals who are self-employed or contract employees. The additional $600 FPUC per week will be automatically added to all regular UI and PUA benefits. Under federal law, individuals receiving PUA are not eligible for extended benefits through PEUC or Enhanced State UI benefits. However, PUA recipients can receive up to 46 weeks of PUA benefits at this time vs. 39 weeks as originally available.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – allows for an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment insurance benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances. Claimants will need to apply for PEUC benefits once the balance of their current regular state UI claim is exhausted. Those who have already exhausted their benefits or have a UI claim that expired after July 1, 2019, will also be able to apply.
- State Extended Benefits (EB) – given the high unemployment rate, the NY DOL was able to get federal funding for their state’s extended or enhanced benefits program. This provides 7 additional weeks, on top of the 13 weeks available under PEUC.
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – provides an additional $600 per week to any eligible individual until 7/31/2020. The $600 would be paid the first week of your unemployment claim period but no earlier than 4/5/20. Program Expiry – As of 7/31/20 the $600 FPUC benefit has ended. Any supplementary benefits would be subject to Congress passing an unemployment benefits funding extension.
How To File For Unemployment
Sign in or create a NY.gov ID account and follow the instructions to file a claim. If you can’t apply online, you can call the TCC at 1-888-209-8124.
If you have never filed 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.
Ready? Make sure you have with you:
- 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 we 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.
Certify for Weekly Benefits
Once you have filed a claim for benefits, you must also claim weekly benefits for each week you are unemployed and meet the eligibility requirements. This is also called “certifying for benefits.” You can start certifying as soon as you receive a notification from the DOL. During this process, you are confirming that you were unemployed for all or part of the past week and that you met all other conditions of receiving benefits. You may certify online or by telephone.
You will need to certify your benefits every single week, or you will lose them. This means that you need to log into your account and verify that you are still eligible for the benefits each week.
Issues with UI benefits
The DOL has begun a new initiative to proactively inform New Yorkers of the status of their unemployment benefits application through emails and text messages. This initiative is designed to keep New Yorkers informed throughout the process — from submission to approval. Once you file a claim you will get further information on this.
Missing Payments – If you are entitled to UI benefits, all benefits will be backdated to the day you were out of work.
Pending Claims: If you recently filed a new claim and everything is in order, you should generally receive your first payment about 2-4 weeks after you apply for benefits. It takes 2-3 business days for a payment to appear in your bank account once it has been released from our system. If you are experiencing issues with your account and claim get help online or call 1-800-833-3000.
Getting Back Pay for Unemployment Benefits
Important Notice About Receiving Your Back Benefits: The DOL is using DocuSign’s secure digital signature technology to help New Yorkers get their backdated payments. If you receive an email, please fill out the form and send it in so that we can get you the benefits you are eligible for as quickly as possible.
When you claim weekly benefits, you must answer questions to certify how many days you were ready, willing and able to work during the past week. The certification system only handles certification for one week at a time. You cannot claim for a given week more than a week later either online or using Tel-Service.
The system will not accept certifications for any back weeks or other periods of time. If you miss claiming benefits for a week during which you were unemployed, you can request credit for this week by secure message, fax or regular mail. Do not call the Telephone Claims Center to request back credit for a week. To submit a request by secure message, sign in to your account at www.labor.ny.gov/signin and click on the envelope icon on the My online Services page.
To fax your request, send to (518) 457-9378.By mail, send to:
New York State Department of Labor
PO Box 15130
Albany, NY 12212-5130
The NY DOL will review your request and decide if you are eligible to receive benefits for that time period. This review can take two to three weeks, unless more information is needed. In that case, it may take longer. During this time, be sure to continue claiming benefits for all weeks you are unemployed and eligible for benefits. If we write or call you to request more information, please respond promptly so the review is not delayed. When you use the phone or online systems to claim your weekly benefits, you must certify for yourself.
The NY DOL is currently experiencing high call volumes, so check their website. Also while the NY DOL site is a great place to get program information, their social media sites (e.g twitter) seem to have the most up to date information.