Unemployment Insurance Top Frequently Asked Questions | Department of Labor
benefits: request, receive and claim
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1. Can I estimate my weekly unemployment insurance benefit amount?
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yes, you can use the benefit rate calculator on our website. note that the tool only provides an estimate. does not guarantee that you will be eligible for benefits or a specific amount of benefits. you must file an unemployment insurance claim to find out if you are eligible and to know the actual amount of your benefit.
2. when will I receive my first payment? I applied for unemployment insurance benefits over a week ago and haven’t heard anything. what should i do?
It takes three to six weeks from the time you file your claim to when you receive your first payment, because we have to review and process your application for benefits. you will not receive benefits during this time period. if you are determined eligible, you will receive the previous weeks of benefits due with your first payment.
During this time there are two things you should do:
- complete and return any questionnaires and return any phone calls you receive from the labor department promptly; and
- Continue to claim weekly benefits while you are unemployed and meet the eligibility requirements. if you are found eligible for benefits, you will be paid for any back weeks due.
- select “hearings and appeals” as the first subject line. then:
- select “I want to request a hearing” as the second subject line.
3. Is “claiming weekly benefits” or “certifying benefits” the same as “applying for benefits” or “filing a claim”?
not. “applying for benefits” or “filing a claim” means applying for unemployment insurance benefits: You are filing an unemployment insurance claim, similar to filing a claim with an insurance company. You give us information about yourself, your employer, and how you became unemployed, and we decide if you qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. You can apply for unemployment insurance either on our website at deployment.labor.ny.gov or by calling toll free at (888) 209-8124 during business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm . the best way to file is online.
See the next question for a definition of “claim weekly benefits” or “certify benefits”.
4.what does “claim weekly benefits” mean? Also, what does it mean to “certify for benefits”?
Both “claiming weekly benefits” and “certifying benefits” refer to how you tell the department of labor that you are still unemployed, ready and able to work, looking for work, and in need of unemployment insurance benefits. You can do this each week either online at http://www.labor.ny.gov/ or by calling our toll-free telephone service line at (888) 581-5812.
When you claim weekly benefits, you will be asked a series of questions. It is important to answer truthfully, as you are certifying to the Department of Labor that your answers are true and correct. that’s why the process is also called “certification of benefits.”
5. I need to travel outside the country. How do I claim benefits?
If you are traveling for vacation or personal reasons, you cannot claim or receive benefits for the time you are gone. If you attempt to claim weekly benefits from outside the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands, your certification will be blocked and your benefits will be withheld. Important: Do not give your pin to someone else to certify your benefits. this can lead to severe penalties, including loss of benefits, criminal prosecution, and imprisonment.
Please contact us before you travel, even if you are traveling to look for a job or for a job interview. You can send us a secure message or call the Telephone Claims Center toll-free at (888) 209-8124 during business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. To send a secure message, sign in to your account at www.labor.ny.gov/signin. then click the envelope icon at the top right of the my online services page. be sure to tell us the dates of your trip and the reason for the trip. If you provide us with this information prior to your trip, your benefits may be held while you are away, but will resume when you return.
6. if a worker refuses to be vaccinated, will they be eligible for ui benefits?
Like all ui claims, eligibility will depend on the circumstances, as each claim is unique and is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Workers in a health care facility, nursing home, or school who voluntarily quit or are terminated for refusing an employer-required vaccination will not be eligible for UI in the absence of a valid accommodation request because these are workplaces where a employer has a compelling interest in such a mandate, especially if they already require other vaccinations. Similarly, a public employee who works in a public setting and is subject to a local government mandate to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test may be disqualified from receiving UI if they refuse to be vaccinated or tested. Conversely, a worker who refuses an employer’s directive to be vaccinated may be eligible for UI in some cases, if that person’s job does not have public exposure and the worker has a compelling reason for refusing to comply. directive.
7. was receiving benefits, but they stopped. I haven’t missed any meeting. what’s going on? Should I call the telephone claims center?
Most likely, the Department of Labor has received information that may affect your eligibility for benefits. That information may have come from a previous employer, a questionnaire you returned, or you may have tried to certify for benefits outside of the United States (see question 4 above). when this happens, we are required to investigate. your benefits will be held while we do that.
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This investigation may take several weeks. there is nothing you can do except respond to any questionnaire, message or phone call from us as quickly as possible. the telephone claims center cannot authorize payment of benefits while an investigation is underway. when the investigation is complete, you will receive all benefits due or receive a determination notice1 from us in the mail.
If your benefits have been held for less 10 days and you haven’t heard back, don’t call the claims center by phone. the investigation is still ongoing. however, if it’s been more than 10 days and you haven’t heard back, you can send us a secure message from your online account. sign in at www.labor.ny.gov/signin and click the envelope icon on your my online services page. You can also call the telephone claims center toll-free at (888) 209-8124. Call during business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.
*Important: While the investigation continues, please continue to claim weekly benefits while unemployed.
1For purposes of the unemployment insurance program, a determination is the formal name for a decision the department of labor makes regarding your claim. It is important that you read, understand, and keep any notice you receive from us that has “determination” in its title.
8. I tried to claim weekly benefits, but the online/phone system will not allow me to certify. I get a message that I have to call a certain phone number. what’s going on?
If you tried to claim weekly benefits, but the online or phone system won’t let you certify, chances are we received information from a company that says you worked while certifying that you weren’t working. When this happens, we must review and confirm that you are indeed unemployed.
If you are not working or only working part time, the fastest way to resolve this is to take our secure online questionnaire and then certify for benefits on our website at www.labor.ny.gov/signin.
If you do not have access to a computer, you may contact the Integrity Unit at (877) 280-4541 for assistance. Be ready to tell us all the dates you have worked (if any), as well as the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any employers you have worked for (if any) since the beginning of your claim. You will also need to tell us the hours you worked and your weekly earnings.
9. I received a questionnaire from the department of labor that does not seem to correspond to my situation. I think I made a mistake when I certified for benefits. what do i do?
return the quiz anyway. write at the top or bottom of the questionnaire that you think a mistake was made and provide the appropriate details. then return it via secure message: go to www.labor.ny.gov/signin and click on the envelope icon on the my online services page. or, fax or mail to the fax number or address shown on the questionnaire. We will review and correct the error if applicable. if we need more information, we will contact you by phone or secure message through your online account with us. you do not need to call the telephone claims center; They will not be able to attend to this type of concern.
10. What if I have a question about my benefits and I can’t get through to the telephone claims center?
The covid-19 emergency has placed an unprecedented demand on the telephone lines of the telephone claims center. try one of the following options.
first, check the claimant handbook. many questions received by our telephone claims center are answered in the brochure. you can also refer to the FAQ below.
You can also send us a secure message. Sign in to your online account at www.labor.ny.gov/signin and click the envelope icon on the My Online Services page.
manage your account: payment histories and methods, questionnaires, and address/phone/name changes
11. How do I check my payment history and/or payment status?
For a complete record of your unemployment insurance benefit payments, log in to your online account at www.labor.ny.gov/signin. On the My Online Services page, click “Unemployment Services” and then “View Payment History.”
You can also call our telephone service line at (888) 581-5812. Follow the prompts to check your payment history and the status of your payments.
12. How do I change my benefit payment method?
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For security reasons, changes from a debit card to direct deposit or direct deposit to a debit card can only be made online. log in to your online account at www.labor.ny.gov/signin and click on “unemployment services” on the my online services page. this takes you to the online unemployment insurance benefits page. Click on “Tax Withholding and Payment Options” and the “View/Print 1099g” button. follow the instructions to switch to direct deposit or cancel direct deposit and receive your benefits through a debit card. If you’re switching to direct deposit, make sure you have a check handy, as you’ll need important numbers from the check. Be sure to enter your checking account information accurately and print a copy of the direct deposit information review page for your records. Please allow five business days for the changes to take effect.
For more information, see Chapter 3 of the Claimant Handbook, “Receiving Your Benefits: Your Pin, NY.gov ID, Direct Deposit, and Direct Payment Card.”
13. I misplaced the questionnaire/form/letter that the Department of Labor sent me. what should i do?
You can request another copy of the questionnaire/form/letter via secure message through your online account at www.labor.ny.gov/signin. Login to your account; then click the envelope icon on my online services page. Or, you can call the telephone claims center toll-free at (888) 209-8124. call during business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. Important: Request a replacement as soon as possible. Many items have expiration dates. these expiration dates are not adjusted, even if a replacement is issued.
14. How do I change my address or phone number with the Department of Labor?
The easiest way to update your address and/or phone number is online. log in to your account online at www.labor.ny.gov/signin and click on “unemployment services”. this takes you to the online unemployment insurance benefits page. Click the “Claim Weekly Benefits” button, which takes you to the benefit payment page. click the “continue” button at the bottom of that page, which will take you to the claim weekly benefits page. click the “change address/phone number” button to change your address and/or phone number.
You can also call the telephone claims center toll-free at (888) 209-8124 and select the “address or pin changes” menu option to change your address or phone number. Call during business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.
You should also call keybank customer service at (866) 295-2955 to update your contact information (if you receive benefits through a direct payment card) or your bank (if you use direct deposit).
15. What should I do if my name changes?
You must send us a letter with legal documentation (such as a copy of a marriage certificate, certified divorce record, certified court order, or a valid and unexpired US passport issued in your current name) verifying the name change and send it by mail to:
new york state department of labor p.o. box 15130 albany, new york 12212-5130
You can also submit a name change request via secure message through your online account. sign in at www.labor.ny.gov/signin. On the My Online Services page, click the envelope icon to send us a secure message. Attach a pdf of your legal documentation to your application.
if you disagree with our determination: request a hearing
16. I received a decision (“determination”) in the mail from the Department of Labor that I disagree with. what can i do?
If you disagree with any determination that denies you benefits or affects the amount of benefits you may receive, you have the right to request a hearing. The hearing will be held before an impartial administrative law judge.
If you do not have an online account with us, please see Chapter 3 of the Claimant Handbook: “Receiving Your Benefits: Your Pin, NY.gov ID, Direct Deposit, and Direct Payment Card” for instructions on how to set one up.
You can also put your request in writing, sign it, and mail it to:
nys department of labor po box 15131 albany, ny 12212-5131
*Important: Your request online or by mail must be made or mailed no later than 30 days from the date of the notice of determination with which you disagree. If your request is later than 30 days, you must indicate why your request has been delayed. Please include your full name, the last four digits of your social security number, the date the determination was mailed, and the reasons you disagree with our decision on your application.
For more information on the hearing and appeal process, see Chapter 10 of the claimant handbook: “Hearing and appeal process.” the “preparing for your ui hearing” video may also be helpful. To view it, go to the Unemployment Insurance Board of Appeals website and select “Hearing Preparation Video” from the menu. Also, check out our Hearings FAQ.