How To File For Unemployment: Tips From Local Council Member

How To File For Unemployment: Tips From Local Council Member
Sheepshead Bay. Liena Zagare/Bklyner
Sheepshead Bay. Liena Zagare/Bklyner

While we are seeing a positive trend in data, with deaths, hospitalizations, and critical care cases going down, the aftershocks of this virus are going to linger for quite some time. For millions across the country, COVID has resulted in a loss of income and employment. Even when businesses reopen here in New York, it will take a long time to recover economically, which means that many will be jobless. I’ve compiled information below detailing how New York State residents can apply for unemployment insurance.

I am very well aware of the ongoing issues with unemployment, and my office has already assisted thousands of applicants in getting the process completed, after long delays. I encourage you to follow the instructions below, and reach out to me at with any issues at all.

Together we will get through this.


Unemployment Insurance is temporary income for eligible workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. File your claim the first week that you lose your job.

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

If you missed your day:

File Thursday – Sunday.

  • Any claim you file will be backdated to the date you became unemployed.
  • If you are eligible, you will be paid for all benefits from that date forward

What You Need to Know About Filing for Unemployment Insurance Benefits During the Pandemic:

  • New York State is waiving the 7-Day waiting period for Unemployment Insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) closures or quarantines.
  • On March 27, 2020, a law was signed that provides additional Unemployment Insurance assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19. This means that you may qualify to receive:
  • Up to 39 weeks of UI benefits.
  • An additional $600/week until 7/31/2020.
  • (The $600 would be paid the first week of your unemployment claim period but no earlier than 4/5/20).

If you are not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, farmers workers with limited work history, and others) and are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency, you may now be eligible through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a federal program that provides support for Americans who are unable to work due to the COVID pandemic, but aren’t eligible for traditional unemployment insurance.


You should apply if you are unable to work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and any of the following apply to you:

  • Self-employed;
  • Independent contractor;
  • Work for an app-based company (i.e. “gig worker”);
  • Farmer;
  • Diagnosed with COVID-19 or have COVD-19 symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis;
  • Living with a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Primary caregiver for a child unable to attend school or another facility due to COVID-19;
  • Unable to reach place of employment due to an imposed quarantine or were advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
  • Scheduled to commence new employment but cannot reach the workplace as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Became a major breadwinner because the head of the household died from COVID-19;
  • Quit a job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Have insufficient work history and affected by COVID-19;
  • Otherwise not qualified for regular or extended UI benefits and affected by COVID-19
  • You will not be eligible for PUA if you can telework, or if you are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits (regardless of meeting a category listed above).

To apply for PUA visit:

Standard Unemployment Benefits:

To qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you must have worked and earned enough wages in covered employment. In New York State, employers pay contributions that fund Unemployment Insurance.


You must file an Unemployment Insurance claim to find out if you are eligible and learn your actual benefit amount.

To collect benefits, you must be ready, willing, and able to work, and actively looking for work during each week in which you are claiming benefits. We understand that many of you are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and New York State on PAUSE. If you would otherwise be able to work, you should answer ‘YES’ in order to receive your benefits.

To apply for UI visit:

How To File

Sign in or create a ID account and follow the instructions to file a claim.

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.

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.

If you cannot print web pages, have a pen and paper to copy information.

If you choose direct deposit of your weekly benefits, you will need your bank routing and checking account numbers. You cannot choose direct deposit if you file your claim by telephone.

Apply By Telephone

Call the Telephone Claim Center, toll-free during business hours to file a claim.


Extended telephone filing hours are:

Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 7:30 pm.

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

After you apply for unemployment insurance benefits, this is what you can expect:

  • 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.
  • Your first payment will generally be made 2-3 weeks from the time you file your claim. This time is used to review and process your application for benefits. This is why you may see your claim status as “pending.”
  • You should respond to any questionnaires, messages, or phone calls from us as quickly as possible. Failure to do so will delay your claim or result in the denial or suspension of your benefits. PLEASE NOTE: Like many New Yorkers, Department of Labor (DOL) representatives are working from home, so your caller ID may show “PRIVATE CALLER.” Anyone calling from DOL will verify their identity by providing: (a) the date you filed your application; & (b) the type of claim. Once you have been verified, a representative may ask for your social security number.
  • If you received benefits on a prior claim by using a debit card and you no longer have the card, or if your card has expired, you must call KeyBank at 1-866-295-2955 to get a new card.
  • If you filed a prior claim and you received benefits on that prior claim by direct deposit, any benefits due to you on this claim will go to the bank account on file. If your bank account has changed, please immediately update your banking information by using the DOL website.
  • To find out when your most recent payment was released or to see a history of all payments made on your claim, sign in to your account.
  • After you complete your application for a new claim for benefits, you will receive a Monetary Determination in the mail informing you of your weekly benefit rate, the base period used to establish your claim, and the employers and wages used to calculate your weekly benefit rate.
  • If the wages are wrong, or if any employers are missing, fill out and send DOL the Request for Reconsideration form.
  • To speed review of your claim, be sure to submit proof of your employment and wages. If you have no pay stubs, please send any documents you may have that can be used as proof.
  • You must claim benefits for each week you are unemployed and seek benefits. Learn how to certify each week.


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 claiming as soon as you submit your application, and every week following, even as you wait for confirmation that you have been approved. Go to

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.

Each week you are claiming benefits you will be asked if you are ready, willing and able to work, and have been actively looking for work. It is understood that many are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and New York State on PAUSE. If you would otherwise be able to work, you should answer ‘YES’ in order to receive your benefits.


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