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 New York State Unemployment Link. 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: I have tried filing for unemployment and I have not been able to reach them. Will my unemployment benefits be affected? 
    A: We have been hearing from many of our members about the difficulties you are having filing your unemployment claims due to the New York State Department of Labor's website and phone lines being overwhelmed. We have been monitoring this issue and want to inform you all that it has been announced that any claim you file will be backdated to the date you became unemployed. If you are eligible, you will be paid for all benefits due. 

    This problem posed the question whether workers who haven’t been able to file because of these technical difficulties will be penalized. Normally, if you wait to file an unemployment claim, you’re not eligible to collect benefits for the period before you filed. The Department of Labor has announced that that rule has been waived in this case because the delays in filing are being caused by the volume of claims, not any lapse on the part of the claimants.

    Please see the attached link to the DOL website:

    If you have any questions, please contact us at (212) 245-8100, option 3. 

    3 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, we just learned that the State has decided to waive this one-week waiting period if you are out of work because of Coronavirus.

    4 Q: Can I apply for unemployment, and how do I know I’m 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). So, in this case, you all meet this requirement, because layoffs are occurring due to Coronavirus, and not something you did wrong. 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 July, August, or September 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:
      • April 1-June 30, 2019;
      • July 1-September 30, 2019;
      • October 1-December 31, 2019;
      • January 1-March 31, 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 October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019.

    If you do not meet the above requirements, it is possible that you still qualify under New York State's "alternate" calculation. The requirements for the alternate calculation are the same, but based on a different time period. You must have met the same requirements in at least 2 of these quarters, if applying in July, August, or September 2020:

    • July 1-September 30, 2019;
    • October 1-December 31, 2019;
    • January 1, 2020-March 31, 2020;
    • April 1-June 30, 2020

    For more information on the alternate calculation, call (888) 209-8124 Monday thru Friday 8:00 AM - 7:30 PM.

    5 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.)

    6 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.

    7 Q: What if I need a translator’s help to apply for unemployment?
    Then you should probably 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.

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

    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.  

    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. Given the financial hardship that many Americans are facing, on March 27, 2020, the Federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or “CARES Act” which extends unemployment insurance by 13 more weeks through December 31, 2020. Starting the week of July 5, 2020, New York authorized up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits to workers who have exhausted both their regular 26 weeks and their 13-week extension under the CARES Act. This will allow you to collect unemployment benefits for a total of up to 59 weeks in New York.

    Theoretically, if you are unemployed for 3 weeks and you go back to work for 4 weeks and then you are unemployed again, you would be entitled to another 56 weeks of unemployment benefits on the same unemployment claim. If you have already collected unemployment during the one year time period, that will count against the 59 weeks that you’re entitled to.

    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. 

    If you remain unemployed after the expiration of the year, and had sufficient employment over that year, you may qualify 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: How does the federal stimulus (the “CARES" Act) affect my unemployment?
    A: On March 27, 2020, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or “CARES Act,” that expands who can collect unemployment and increases unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Under the Act:

    • Unemployment Insurance (UI) is extended by 13 weeks for a total of 39 weeks in New York and New Jersey, available through December 31, 2020; and
    • The CARES Act provided $600/week in emergency supplemental unemployment benefits. This provision expired at the end of July.

    UPDATE: Starting the week of July 5, 2020 unemployment benefits were extended by New York for up to 20 additional weeks for workers who have exhausted both their regular 26 weeks  and their 13-week extension of traditional unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. This will allow you to collect unemployment benefits for a total of up to 59 weeks in New York.

    14 Q: If I work part-time, am I still eligible for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act?
    A: Yes, part-time employees are eligible.

    15 Q: What do I have to do to receive these enhanced benefits? 
    A: If you have already filed and are receiving unemployment, you don’t have to do anything. Your benefits will automatically be extended by 13 weeks under the CARES Act and after you have exhausted those 13 weeks, extended up to 20 weeks by the State of New York for a maximum of 59 weeks.

    If you have not filed for unemployment, you must file for unemployment through the New York State Department of Labor. (See Question 1)

    16 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.

    17 Q: If my hotel receives a Paycheck Protection Program loan (“PPP Loan”) and begins to pay me, what should I do with regard to my unemployment claim?
    A: If your hotel receives a PPP Loan and begins to pay you, the New York State Department of Labor has instructed that you should simply stop certifying for unemployment benefits for the weeks that you receive a regular paycheck. You do not have to suspend your account and you should not certify for unemployment (even if you report the income). 

    New! 18 Q: Is the federal government going to extend supplemental unemployment benefits?
    A: The $600 supplement to unemployment provided by the CARES act expired on July 31, 2020. While the US House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act in May, which would extend the $600 supplement until January 31, 2021, the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to bring the HEROES Act to a vote.

    On August 8, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order allocating up to $44 billion of federal funding to provide supplemental unemployment benefits of up to $400 a week, with $300 coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and $100 coming from the states.

    Because of budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most states, including New York said they could not afford to pay $100 a week in supplemental benefits and did not apply for the benefit at first. On August 12, the federal government altered the requirement that states allocate additional funds to pay 25% of the benefit (or $100 a week), and New York applied for the program.

    New! 19 Q: When will I receive my $300 a week supplemental unemployment benefits? And do I need to do anything to qualify?
    A: The New York Department of Labor announced that the state will issue a total of six weeks of supplemental unemployment benefits.

    Please check your email and text messages for updates from the New York Department of Labor. Many unemployed workers will pre-qualify for the additional $300 a week supplemental benefits. If you pre-qualify, no further action is needed. You should have received the first round of payments the week of September 14th and should receive the additional payments beginning the week of September 21st.

    If you do not pre-qualify for the second round of $300 payments, you must certify with the New York Department of Labor that you are out of work due to COVID-19 and were not working during the weeks ending August 23, August 30, and September 6, 2020.

    The NY DOL has emailed a document to those who did not pre-qualify. You must sign and submit the document to be considered for the second round of payments. If you already submitted this document in order to receive the first round of payments, you must sign and submit it again. You can also call 833-491-0632 to certify via an automated phone system. In order to receive your payments this week, you must certify by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, September 22.

    New!  20 Q: For how long will I receive $300 a week supplemental unemployment benefits?
    A: FEMA has now approved New York State’s application for the Lost Wages Assistance Program for a total of six weeks, retroactive to the beginning of August. Supplemental benefits of $300 a week will be paid for the weeks ending on August 2, August 9, and August 16, August 23, August 30, and September 6, 2020.

    After these six weeks of payments are distributed, FEMA will not distribute additional supplemental unemployment insurance benefits.