The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not only impacted our physical and emotional health, but also our economic health. While the government has created incentives for businesses to keep employees on the payroll, many in our community now find themselves underemployed or unemployed. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted by the federal government, offers three unemployment relief programs for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Extends benefits to workers traditionally not eligible for unemployment assistance (self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and others). The PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of benefits, which are available retroactively starting with weeks of unemployment beginning on or after January 27, 2020, and ending on or before December 31, 2020. To qualify for PUA benefits, you must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits and be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of certain health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. To see if you qualify, click here.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
Extends benefits up to 13 weeks after regular unemployment compensation benefits are exhausted. The program covers most individuals who have exhausted all rights to regular unemployment compensation under state or federal law, and who are able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work as defined by state law (“actively seeking” has been waived in NYS for those applying during the COVID-19 pandemic). If you have exhausted the 13 weeks of additional benefits available under the PEUC program, you may be eligible to continue receiving benefits under the PUA program.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
Provides an additional $600 a week in federal benefits for those already receiving unemployment compensation benefits.
To learn more about unemployment assistance through the CARES Act, visit Unemployment Insurance Relief During COVID-19 Outbreak from the U.S. Department of Labor.
You can also visit What You Need to Know and Do About the CARES Act from the NYS Department of Labor.
Eligibility for Unemployment Compensation
Unemployment compensation is temporary income for eligible workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. 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 (“actively looking” has been waived in NYS during the COVID-19 pandemic). Given the expansion of unemployment benefits through the federal government, you may now also be eligible if:
Your employer permanently or temporarily laid you off due to coronavirus measures.
Your employer reduced your work hours due to coronavirus measures.
You are self-employed and have lost income due to coronavirus measures.
You’re unable to work due to a risk of exposure to coronavirus.
*You’re quarantined and can’t work due to coronavirus, or you are caring for a family member due to coronavirus. (In NYS, employees who are either quarantined or caring for a family member due to coronavirus diagnosis should be granted job protection and financial compensation under Paid Family Leave legislation.)
Applying for Unemployment Compensation
You must apply for unemployment benefits through the state in which you were employed. There are two ways to apply in New York State:
It is advised that new claimants apply using the new updated online system. This system is available for filing new claims Monday through Sunday, 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM Eastern Time. You can access the application system here.
Telephone filing is available Monday through Friday, 8 am to 7:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 am to 8:00 pm. To file via telephone, call 1-888-209-8124.
Important Note About Filing: 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 miss your day, you can file on Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun. 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.
To file a claim you will need the following information:
• 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, although this may delay your first payment. Given the high volume of people filing for unemployment benefits, you may encounter issues and/or delays when applying. Please be patient and don’t give up.
For more information on filing for unemployment benefits through NYS, click here.
For more information on unemployment compensation, visit:
NYS DOL Unemployment Insurance Main Page
Unemployment Insurance Benefit FAQ (NYS DOL)
What You Need to Know About the CARES Act (NYS DOL)
U.S. Department of Labor Coronavirus Resources
For information on other resources, such as health insurance, food assistance, home loan relief, and more, visit:
NY State of Health Insurance Marketplace
COBRA Continuation of Health Coverage
NYS Benefits such as SNAP, HEAP, Medicaid, and CHP
Help with Bills from USA.gov
Long Island 2-1-1 Database