New York State Unemployment: Eligibility and Benefits

Jaron Pak
An unemployed man looking for jobs on his laptop in a New York cafe.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Unemployed individuals in New York State can apply for unemployment benefits as long as they meet the necessary requirements. Unemployment benefits include several things, the most important of which is a steady stream of income to help an individual cover basic needs and expenses while they’re between jobs.

NY Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

You must meet a number of requirements to be approved for unemployment benefits in New York. Typically you can claim the income if:

  • You earned enough money in the last year and a half. You can find specific information regarding income qualifications on the New York state website.
  • Your unemployment is not due to any fault of your own. You cannot quit a job or simply be job-hopping and expect to claim unemployment benefits (but there are some caveats to this stipulation). Workers who found themselves suddenly laid off in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown are good examples of candidates who qualified for unemployment insurance.
  • You are available, ready, and willing to accept reasonable employment when it becomes available. In other words, you must be seeking unemployment benefits as a temporary stopgap with an end goal of resuming work as quickly as possible.
  • You must be actively looking for a job. If you aren’t looking for a job, you cannot be approved for unemployment.

If you meet all of the listed qualifications, you’re eligible to apply for New York State unemployment benefits.

In addition, there are some occasions when leaving your job will not necessarily disqualify you from receiving unemployment, such as if you resign due to disagreements with a foreman or because of religious objections. You can find a complete list of these exceptions on the New York State website.

NY Unemployment Insurance Benefits

If you qualify, you will be approved for unemployment insurance (which is synonymous with unemployment benefits).

Your unemployment benefits include monetary payments to help you financially stay afloat as well as job training and help with your job search.

How Much Does Unemployment Pay?

When it comes to the monetary payment, you may be wondering how much money you can expect per week and for how long. Payment benefits are calculated by collecting information from your past earnings over the last few quarters.

You are expected to report the earnings for the past four completed quarters (known as the Basic Base Period) or the previous three completed quarters and the current quarter (known as the Alternate Base Period).

There are many different scenarios that the state takes into consideration when it calculates your weekly payment. As an example, if your highest-quarter earnings are greater than $3,575, your highest quarter is simply divided by 26 in order to come up with your weekly benefit.

Regardless of the math, benefits are always at least $104 and never more than $504.

Once you have your calculated unemployment benefit amount, you can count on receiving the benefits for up to 26 weeks as you look for a job — at which point, if you still do not have work, your situation shifts to long-term unemployment. Even during the 26-week period, though, you will need to continue to claim these benefits on a weekly basis while showing that you are meeting ongoing eligibility requirements such as looking for work.

You can calculate what your payment should be by using the benefit rate calculator on the NY Department of Labor website. However, keep in mind that this is an estimate and your final benefit number may be different.

How to Apply for Unemployment in New York

If you’re unemployed and looking to apply for benefits, make sure to apply immediately after losing your job, as it will usually take a few weeks for your benefits to begin to arrive. However, it should be noted that during the COVID-19 crisis the state has waived the mandatory one-week waiting period for your benefits to initially go through.

You can file a claim for unemployment benefits either online or by phone — although the state website recommends you do it online.

If applying online, you can go to the application form, sign in or create a ID, and then follow the application steps. You must file your claim on specific days of the week depending on the first letter of your last name:

  • If your last name begins with A through F, apply on Monday.
  • If your last name begins with G through N, apply on Tuesday.
  • If your last name begins with O through Z, apply on Wednesday.
  • If you missed your day, apply on Thursday or Friday.


: All applications filed during the week will count as having been filed on the Monday of that week, so resist the urge to call sooner than your appointed day.

Materials Needed to File an Unemployment Claim

When you go to file your claim, you’ll need the following information:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your driver’s license or Motor Vehicle ID card number.
  • Your phone number.
  • Your mailing address.
  • The name and address for every employer you’ve had in the last 18 months.
  • If you are in military service, your most recent separation form (DD 214).
  • If you were a federal employee, copies of your SF8 and SF50 forms.
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, your Alien Registration card number.

If you are missing something, it won’t necessarily disqualify you, but it may delay your registration.

Also, have a way to print or record information and gather your bank account information beforehand if you want to have the money directly deposited into your bank account.

For More Information on Filing for Unemployment in NY

If you’re looking for more information regarding unemployment insurance in New York, you can speak with the claim center staff by:

  • Calling them at (888) 783-1370.
  • Emailing them through the “Messages” tab after you’ve signed in with your ID.
  • Sending snail mail to:

New York State Department of Labor
P.O. Box 15130
Albany, NY 12212-5130.

As a final encouragement, remember that finding employment can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. As you sort through your options and fill out unemployment applications, remember that there are multiple ways to scrape money together — such as selling personal belongings or making lifestyle adjustments — in order to survive the weeks and months ahead.

It’s also important that you begin to sharpen your resume, practice your cover letter writing skills, and prepare to do job interviews as you get ready to launch out and find new employment.

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