New York Unemployment Tips

NEW: Help with unemployment for non-union hotel workers too. For weeks, we have been helping our members apply for unemployment and troubleshooting issues they have been encountering. We now have the capacity to provide similar assistance to non-union hotel workers as well. As the organization of hotel and gaming workers in New York and New Jersey, in addition to protecting our own members, we intend to do what we can to try to alleviate the hardships and dangers non-union workers in our industry are experiencing during these difficult days. If you would like help applying for unemployment, please fill out this survey and a Union staff person will give you a call. We will keep your identity confidential.

1 Q: Where do I apply for unemployment?
In general, you should apply for unemployment in the same state in which you work. So even if you live in New Jersey, if you work in New York, you should apply in New York.

How to Apply:

You can apply for unemployment either online or by phone. Please note the Department of Labor is encouraging everyone who can, to apply online.

  • Applying Online:

    • If you have not already attempted to file, go to the New York State Unemployment login page. The best hours for applying online are Monday – Friday from 7:30 AM - 7:30 PM
    • If you have been trying to call the NY State DOL and partially completed an unemployment application, we are under the understanding that at this point, the DOL should be returning a call to you. The caller ID may appear as “PRIVATE CALLER” (or a blocked call). In order to verify that it is not a fraudulent call, NY State DOL staff will verify a) the date you filed your application and b) the type of claim.
    • If you have successfully filed a claim, continue to go to to make weekly certifications or to view your claim information.

  • Applying by Phone:
    • If you have to call the telephone claims center regarding your claim, call (888) 209-8124 from Monday thru Friday, 8:00 AM - 7:30 PM.

  • Come back and complete this Union Survey to let us know if you were able or not to get through and file your claim on the new NYS Unemployment website. We want to know how many hotel and gaming workers are having trouble getting their unemployment benefits processed. We will attempt to use the information we are getting from you to communicate with New York State so they can continue to make improvements.

2 Q:
Can I apply for unemployment if I have been temporarily laid-off?
Yes, you can and it is crucial that you apply as soon as (but not before) you are laid-off. If you apply before you are laid off (even if you know you will be laid-off), they will very likely reject your application and that will delay when you can start collecting your benefit. New York State normally requires a one-week waiting period for which you will not receive unemployment benefits. However, this one week waiting period is waived if you are out of work because of Coronavirus.

3 Q: Am I eligible for unemployment in New York State?

A: To be eligible, you must meet the following two requirements: First, your employment must not have ended for cause (like being fired for misconduct on your part). If you were laid off due to the impacts of the coronavirus, you meet this requirement. The second requirement is more complicated and depends on when and how much you worked in New York and what your earnings were. Generally, if you are applying in October, November, or December 2020, to qualify for benefits:

  • You need to have worked in jobs covered by unemployment insurance in New York for at least some period of time, in at least two of the following calendar quarters:
    • July 1-September 30, 2019;
    • October 1-December 31, 2019;
    • January 1-March 31, 2020.
    • April 1 - June 30, 2020
  • You must have earned $2,600 or more in at least one of the above-listed quarters.
  • You must have made a total of at least one and a half (1 1/2) times the amount you earned in the quarter in which you made the most money during that year. So, for example, if you earned $8,000 in your highest-paid quarter, you need to have earned a total of $12,000 between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.

If you do not meet the above requirements, it is possible that you still qualify under New York State's "alternate" calculation. For more information on the alternate calculation, call (888) 209-8124 Monday through Friday 8:00 AM - 7:30 PM.

It is possible that you still qualify under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) program. PUA allows workers who are generally ineligible to receive unemployment benefits, such as part-time workers, the opportunity to qualify for up to 50 weeks of benefits. PUA is available through March 14, 2021.

4 Q: What information do I need to have when I apply for unemployment?
Make sure you have the following information when you apply (either online or over the phone):

  • Your Social Security number,
  • Your Driver license ID number (if you have one),
  • Your complete mailing address,
  • A phone number where you can be reached,
  • A list of all employers that you’ve worked for in the past 18 months (even if the job was outside of New York State), and
  • Your most recent employer’s Employer Registration Number or Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN), (which you can find on your W-2.)

5 Q: How should I respond if unemployment asks why I’m not working?
Since you are being laid off, the correct answer is “lack of work.” If you mistakenly give a different answer, your unemployment benefits may be denied.

6 Q: What if I need a translator’s help to apply for unemployment?
If you need a translator’s help to apply for unemployment, it is best to apply on the phone, with the help of someone you know who can translate for you. If you need translation help to apply, we will try to help you. You should call (212) 245-8100, press option 3 and leave a message.

7 Q: I have successfully filed my unemployment, when will I receive my check?

A: After your claim has been successfully filed, the NY State DOL needs to review and process the claim. NY State estimates that this takes 2-3 weeks. You need to continue to certify each week, even when you are waiting to receive your first check, so that you do not lose benefits.

8 Q: How frequently will I receive my unemployment benefit check?
You will receive unemployment benefits each week that you “certify” to unemployment that you are at least partially unemployed.

New!9 Q: How much money will I receive in weekly unemployment benefits?
The amount of money you receive in unemployment benefits is based on how much you were earning while you were working. The Department of Labor will calculate your weekly benefit amount. Before you apply, you can use an online calculator on the Department of Labor’s website to get an estimate of how much in benefits you will receive each week.  

New Federal Supplement: On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a stimulus bill that will provide a $300 per week federal supplement to unemployment benefits for 11 weeks. This benefit will go into effect the week ending January 3rd and should last until the week of March 14, 2021.

10 Q: How long can I continue to receive unemployment benefits?

A: Under normal circumstances, assuming you’re eligible, you are entitled to a total of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits over a period of 1 year from the date of your claim. In March 2020, the federal government passed the “CARES Act” which extended unemployment insurance by 13 more weeks through December 26, 2020 2020 and on December 21, 2020, Congress passed a stimulus bill that will extend unemployment an additional 11 weeks.  On July 5, 2020, New York authorized up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits if unemployment stays at a certain rate statewide. This will allow you to collect unemployment benefits for a total of up to 70 weeks in New York.

Any week in which you do not certify for unemployment benefits is not counted towards your number of total remaining weeks. For instance, if you are unemployed for 3 weeks, return to work for 4 weeks, and then you are laid off again, you would be entitled to another 56 weeks of unemployment benefits on the same unemployment claim.

If you have filed for unemployment at any point during the last year, your claim should still be valid. You should only need to start certifying for benefits again, you don’t have to file a new claim.

11 Q: What do I need to do to continue receiving unemployment insurance benefits?
A: To continue receiving unemployment, you need to claim your benefits each week online by using your NY.GOV ID. If you have successfully filed a claim, continue to go to to make weekly certifications. You can also claim your benefits by phone at (888)-581-5812. This is very important. You must “certify” each week in order to demonstrate that you are still unemployed. Certifying is essentially claiming your unemployment benefits. If you fail to certify each week, you will not receive benefits for that week.

12 Q: What if I get called back to work part-time for some weeks while I’m collecting unemployment?
If you work 4 days or more in a week, or earn a gross of $504 or more in a week, you cannot get unemployment benefits for that week. If you work 3 days that week, you will get 25% of your benefit. If you work 2 days that week, you will get 50%. If you only work 1 day a week, you will get 75%.

13 Q: Do I have to report to the Department of Labor that I am being paid out for my unused accrued paid time off (holidays, vacation, sick, and personal days)?
A: Individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits through New York State are required to answer the following questions when completing their weekly certification:

• How many days were you owed vacation pay, or did you receive vacation pay?

• How many days were you owed holiday pay, or did you receive holiday pay?

If you are simply receiving pay for unused vacation, sick or personal days at the end of the year, you can answer “0” to the questions above. Receiving a payout for unused accrued vacation days is not considered “vacation pay” in the eyes of the NY Department of Labor. However, if you previously scheduled vacation time for the week in which you are claiming benefits you must report those days to unemployment.

Similarly, receiving a payout for unused accrued holidays is not considered “holiday pay” by the NY Department of Labor.

New!14 Q: How will the new $300 per week federal supplement affect my severance pay? 
: On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a stimulus bill that will provide a $300 a week federal supplement to unemployment benefits for 11 weeks. This benefit will go into effect the week of December 27th and should last until the week of March 14, 2021. So, if you live in New York State and normally receive $504 per week in unemployment benefits, you will receive $804 per week for the 11-week period.

For those workers who are receiving severance in the form of weekly bridge payments, you will continue to receive the equivalent of your normal salary between bridge payments and unemployment benefits. Come January 1, 2021, you will have the option to receive your normal salary plus an additional $443 per week to use towards COBRA. The $300 a week unemployment supplement will decrease the weekly deduction from your severance bank by $300 and in turn, allow you to receive severance pay for an even longer period of time. If you already received lump sum severance pay or your severance pay has run out, you’ll simply receive the $300 supplement from unemployment.