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New York COVID and Unemployment Benefits

The COVID pandemic and efforts to slow the spread of the virus prompted Governor Cuomo to take the drastic measure of shutting down the state. This meant that under the New York State on PAUSE order people are required to stay at home and leave for only essential purposes. Only businesses that were deemed essential were allowed to stay open. All other businesses closed. While some business owners and employees have been able to continue work, most have not. An unprecedented number of New Yorkers suddenly found themselves without an income. Many were furloughed, some have permanently lost their jobs. To address the unique issues associated with COVID-19 related to loss of employment, New York State and the federal government instituted special unemployment benefits and policies.

Unemployment benefits
  • Unemployment insurance benefits. To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be ready, willing and able to work. If you are eligible to receive benefits, they will be backdated to the date you became unemployed. To help ensure that benefits begin as quickly as possible, the New York Department of Labor has eliminated the “waiting week” requirement. You should expect to receive your first payment within 2-3 weeks from the time your claim is processed. The period for which you can receive unemployment insurance benefits has been extended an additional 12 weeks for a total of 39 weeks.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the federal government provides up to 39 weeks of PUA benefits to those who qualify. To qualify, you must meet one of the following qualifications:
    • You are self-employed
    • You are an independent contractor
    • You work for an app-based company
    • You are a farmer
    • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you have COVD-19 symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis, you are living with living with a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19, or you are the primary caregiver for a child unable to attend school or another facility due to COVID-19
    • You are unable to reach your place of employment due to an imposed quarantine or were advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
    • You are scheduled to commence new employment but cannot reach the workplace as a direct result of COVID-19
    • You became a major breadwinner because the head of the household died from COVID-19
    • You quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19
    • Your place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19
    • You have insufficient work history and are affected by COVID-19
    • You otherwise are not qualified for regular or extended UI benefits and affected by COVID-19

    If you are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, are receiving paid sick leave or any other type of paid leave, or if you can telework, you are not eligible to receive PUA.

  • Pandemic Unemployment Insurance. The CARES Act also provides $600 per week to those who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits and to those who are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The $600 payments end on July 31, 2020.

Instructions for applying online for unemployment insurance benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance can be found here. Note that the special COVID-related rules and programs related to unemployment benefits are subject to change at any time. Check back to this page for updates.

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