New York Unemployment Tips

ALERT (Updated April 9, 2021): Our Union has been in contact with the New York State Department of Labor regarding the problems many union workers have recently had collecting unemployment due to severance pay. Our Union has been able to intervene and we are pleased to report that the DOL is in the process of fixing these issues system-wide. DOL staff are reaching out, by phone and through their website, to HTC members who have had issues with their claims due to severance pay. You should either receive a call or simply see your claim fixed within the coming weeks. Please look out for an update from the NY State DOL. In the meantime, we recommend that you continue to certify on your old unemployment claim, if possible.

If you are encountering problems, fill out this survey and a union representative will contact you.

1 Q: Where do I apply for unemployment?
A:
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 http://labor.ny.gov/signin 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?
A:
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.

4 Q: What information do I need to have when I apply for unemployment?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A: 
You will receive unemployment benefits each week that you “certify” to unemployment that you are at least partially unemployed.

9 Q: How much money will I receive in weekly unemployment benefits?
A:
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.  

Extended Federal Supplement: The American Rescue Plan extends the $300 per week federal supplement to unemployment benefits until September 6, 2021.

10 Q: How long can I continue to receive unemployment benefits?
A: Under normal circumstances, laid off workers are entitled to a total of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits over a period of 1 year from the date of your claim. 

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 23 weeks of unemployment benefits on the same unemployment 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 http://labor.ny.gov/signin 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: 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.

13 Q: How will the new $300 per week federal supplement affect my severance pay? 
A
: Extended Federal Supplement: The American Rescue Plan extends the $300 per week federal supplement to unemployment benefits until September 6, 2021. So, if you are receiving unemployment benefits from New York State and normally receive $504 per week in unemployment benefits, you will receive $804 per week.

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. Starting on January 1, 2021, you had the option to receive your normal salary plus an additional $443 per week, which can be used 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 in addition to any regular unemployment benefit.

14 Q: How will I get my 1099 tax form if I’m on unemployment?
A: 
1099 tax forms will be available online through the New York State Department of Labor website. To access your form, log in to your online account at labor.ny.gov/signin and download or print the form. To request a form by mail, you must call 1-888-209-8124. The form will be mailed to the address you have on file with the Department of Labor.

New! 15 Q: Do I need to file a new unemployment claim after 52 weeks?
A: 
It has been one year since first filing for unemployment for many members. If you have not worked OR you returned to work but have not earned 10 times your weekly benefit rate since filing your initial claim, you should continue to certify on your existing unemployment claim. As long as you received your first severance payment more than 30 days after your last day of work, severance pay will not affect your unemployment benefits.

If you worked at any job and earned 10 times your weekly benefit rate since filing your initial claim, you must file a new unemployment claim. If you are still receiving severance bridge payments, your bridge payments should not affect your ability to collect unemployment as long as you received your first severance payment more than 30 days after your last day of work.

Your weekly benefit rate can be found in your “Payment History” in your online account with the DOL. 

New! 16 Q: After I was laid off, if I received payment for unused vacation, sick, or personal days over the last year, does it count toward my earnings when I reach my BYE date?
A: No, the DOL has confirmed that any payment of unused, accrued benefit day time (e.g. vacation, PTO, etc.) after the date you were laid off does not affect your unemployment benefits. 

New! 17 Q: Do I have to pay taxes on my unemployment benefits?
A: 
Yes, unemployment benefits are taxable. However, under the American Rescue Plan, individuals who make less than $150,000 will not have to pay taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020.

New! 18 Q: What do I do if I already filed my tax return before learning about the $10,200 tax-free unemployment?
A: The IRS has advised that people who have already filed their 2020 taxes should not file an amended return. When we receive more information from the IRS, we will update our website on how to proceed.

New! 19 Q: I heard that my employer received a form from the Department of Labor asking about my severance or bridge pay, should I be concerned?
A: The law says that severance pay does not affect your unemployment benefits if your first or only severance payment came more than 30 days after your last day of work. If this applies to you, you do not need to be concerned about these forms, because they are legally irrelevant. We brought this to the attention of DOL, which is now actively advising employers of this and informing employers that they do not need to respond to these forms if this situation applies.