Unemployment Insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions that have forced millions of Americans to seek unemployment insurance--and we are working to ensure every single American receives the benefits they are owed. 

Here in New York State, the Department of Labor has received a rapid influx of applications and is working diligently to get through them. Your patience as the agency responds to your request is greatly appreciated. 

Below are resources from the NY Dept. of Labor pertaining to how the CARES Act, which was signed into law March 27, affects workers in our state. Please consult this information to answer any questions you may have.

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New York State


New York State

While the federal government is doing everything it can to provide relief to the recently unemployed, it is New York State that implements any action we take at the federal level. Please use these resources below and visit the Department of Labor website to apply.

This flow chart should help you navigate the unemployment application process.

The following scenarios are covered under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program:

Diagnosed with COVID-19; Symptomatic and seeking diagnosis; Household member diagnosed with COVID-19; Caring for family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19; Primary caregiver of child who cannot attend school/another facility because of COVID-19; Cannot work because of imposed quarantined; Medical advisory to self-quarantine; Scheduled to begin new work and connot reach workplace because of COVID-19; Quit work because of COVID-19; Workplace closed because of COVID-19; Self-employed/independent contractor and work affected by COVID-19; Seeking part-time employment but affected by COVID-19; Insufficient work history and affected by COVID-19; Otherwise not qualified for regular UI benefits and affected by COVID-19.

Not covered under PUA:

Individuals who can telework with pay; Individuals receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.

Per the NYS DOL website: 

The CARES Act was enacted on Friday, March 27, 2020. Please see the CARES Act web page for information about how the Act may affect UI benefits.

Please do not call if you already have a UI claim; it will only make it difficult for others to reach an agent.

Information regarding the CARES Act and other COVID-19 updates will be posted in the Frequently Asked Questions about Unemployment Insurance During the Coronavirus Emergency.

If you are filing a new Unemployment Insurance claim, the day you should apply is based on the first letter of your last name.
A - F file on Monday | G - N file on Tuesday | O - Z file on Wednesday
Missed your day? File on Thurs-Fri-Sat
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.

We are extending telephone filing hours as follows:
Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 7:30 pm.
Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Saturday, 7:30 am to 8:00 pm.


The recently passed CARES Act provides enhanced Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, as well as a newly established Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for New Yorkers.


What is Unemployment Insurance (UI) and how much money will I receive?

Answer: UI is a program that provides temporary cash benefits to employees who lose their jobs. An eligible individual receives a weekly payment based on the recent wages they received from their employer. The maximum weekly benefit rate us $504.

What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?

Answer Through July 31, 2020, the federal government will provide temporary PUA of $600 a week for any worker eligible for state or federal UI benefits. The PUA will be paid in addition to and at the same time (but not necessarily in the same check) as regular state or federal UI benefits. The PUA, combined with the underlying state unemployment benefit, will replace 100 percent of wages for the average U.S. worker. The federal supplement will not affect eligibility for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

If I am already approved for UI benefits in NY, what do I need to do to access the PUA benefits?

Answer: Nothing. Your benefits will automatically be updated and there is no need to call the office.

If I am already approved for UI benefits in NY, what additional support can I expect as a result of the CARES Act?

Answer: An additional 13 weeks of UI benefits if you are still unemployed after 26 weeks, as well as an additional $600 per week through July 31, 2020.

How do I file a new claim for UI benefits?

Answer: You can apply online at labor.ny.gov/signin or call 1-888-209-8124.

How can I find out if I am eligible for UI benefits?

Answer: You can determine your eligibility for PUA through the New York State Labor Department’s website: labor.ny.gov/ui/pdfs/pandemic-unemployment-assistance.pdf

I’ve tried to file a claim, but the website is down and/or I can’t get through to anyone on the phone?

Answer: Given the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19, there has been a significant increase in the number of people filing for UI benefits. Recently passed legislation took steps to increase the amount of money available to states to ensure those who need support, will be assisted. However, long wait times remain an obstacle. To organize the process, the New York State Department of Labor is implementing application guidelines for when an individual should apply, as well as extending hours:

In New York State, if you are filing a new UI claim, the day you should apply is based on the first letter of your last name: A - F file on Monday | G - N file on Tuesday | O - Z file on Wednesday. Anyone can file on Thurs-Fri-Sat.

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.

Telephone filing hours have been extended as follows:

Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 7:30 pm.

Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Saturday, 7:30 am to 8:00 pm.

I am an independent contractor, am I eligible for unemployment Insurance?

Answer: Under typical circumstances, independent contractors and self-employed individuals are not authorized to obtain UI benefits. However, under the CARES Act, self-employed workers whose states make an agreement with the Department of Labor will receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance based on their recent earnings and will also be able to receive the $600 a week on top of that benefit. On March 16, the Governor submitted a request asking the President to authorize DUA in light of impacts COVID-19 is having on New York State. That request is still pending with the President.

How Much PUA Would Self-Employed Workers, Individuals About to Start Work, and Others Receive?

Answer: The amount would vary by state. All PUA recipients would be eligible for the $600 a week federal supplement. They would also receive a base benefit calculated according to state benefit formulas and using recent information about their wages, but no lower than half the state’s minimum regular UC payment.

What about workers who are not laid off, but have their hours reduced?

Answer: Individuals who are still working are generally not eligible for UC benefits. However, the CARES Act makes a substantial federal investment in supporting Short-Time Compensation (STC) or “work sharing” programs, which allow employers to make an agreement with the state UC office to reduce hours, instead of laying people off, and then have workers receive partial UC benefits for their lost hours. Individual state policies may vary, but workers with reduced hours who were not part of STC programs would not typically receive UC.

Why does the CARES Act replace 100 percent of wages for the average worker? Will that discourage people from working?

Answer: The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique, difficult, and unprecedented situation. Normally, the goal of UC benefits is to provide earned benefits to tide workers over while they search for new jobs, and UC does not replace all of the worker’s lost wages, which further strengthens Americans’ natural desire to work and earn wages to support themselves and their families. In this case, public health officials tell us the best thing most Americans can do is to stay home. So in this case, we do not want inadequate wage replacement to force workers, especially those who would normally earn very low UC benefits, to continue searching for jobs or working in violation of public health orders.

When do the temporary emergency benefit increases end?

Answer: The CARES Act terminates the $600 a week FPUC supplement on July 31, 2020, and other provisions on December 31, 2020.


More on Unemployment Insurance

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April 6, 2021 Press Release

April 6, 2021 (Rochester, NY) – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle reintroduced and reiterated the need for comprehensive legislation to help low-income individuals and families more easily access the benefits and social services they rely on. The HOPE Act, which Rep.