There's a new filing system in New York — here's when and how to file
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The Department of Labor is implementing a special system to handle thousands of calls about unemployment insurance as coronavirus shakes the job market around the state, the department said this week.
By noon Tuesday, the office received more than 21,000 calls, compared to about 2,000 in total the week prior; an increase of 950%, the department said in a release. The department also got 110,000 website visits, up from 42,000 a week ago.
The state waived the seven-day waiting period for unemployment insurance and is implementing a filing system that spreads out filings over multiple days of the week, based on the first letter of a filer’s last name. The system is as follows:
A -F: Monday
Missed your day? You can file on Thursday or Friday.
Filing later in the week will not delay payments or affect the date of an individual’s claim. All claims are effective on the Monday of the week in which they are filed.
“Our dedicated staff are working as hard as we can to ensure that all benefits are paid, and we will continue to do so,” the New York Department of Labor said Tuesday.
The agency said it did not have data yet how many new cases have been filed in recent days.
How do I file?
For specific instructions on how to file online, go to www.labor.ny.gov/ui/pdfs/Unemployment-Filing-Instructions.pdf.
What if I need to contact the department?
The department is adding staff and expanding hours to handle the influx, but the state warned the deluge will cause intermittent interruptions in their service.
Expanded telephone line hours are as follows:
Monday through Thursday — 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Friday — 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday — 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Am I eligible for benefits?
Unemployment Insurance 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 throughout each week in which you are claiming benefits.
To qualify, you must have worked and earned enough wages in covered employment. In New York State, employers pay contributions that fund unemployment insurance. It is not deducted from your paycheck.
Not sure if you're eligible? The rule of thumb is to just apply, and do it as quickly as possible after losing a job to a layoff, said Nicole Salk, senior staff attorney at Legal Services NYC. Her work focuses on workers' rights and benefits.
“Many more people are actually eligible for unemployment than generally think they are,” said Salk.
“I would encourage people that if they’ve had any wages during the last year and a half — if they’d worked in employment and received wages — it’s very likely that they're eligible,” she said.
Typically it takes several weeks for unemployment insurance to kick in, but that’s in normal times, she said. With the backlog of cases due to the coronavirus outbreak, it could take much longer.
What if I think I might get laid off?
Do your best to maintain a good relationship with your employer, said Salk.
If a layoff appears to be on the horizon, try to have clear discussions with your employer about when it is happening and whether you're affected.
You may be offered a severance package, which is not legally required of companies.
Also, severance could impact when you can file for unemployment. You likely can file after the severance period has run out, if you’re still looking for work, said Salk.
What about disability?
If you’re currently working and you’re sick, you could apply for disability, but the maximum amount is you can collect per week is $170, and only for up to 26 weeks.
If you’re sick and also think you might be laid off, you’re better off using paid sick leave, at least initially, and then filing for unemployment, said Salk.
The maximum unemployment you could collect would be between $104 and $504 per week for a maximum of 26 weeks, based on how many quarters you worked during the period evaluated by the Department of Labor, and how much you were paid.
What can I do about bills?
Rent: Talk to your landlord about your rent and eviction terms if you’re worried about making payments. Rent laws passed last year in New York state allow for a court to consider the tenant’s health condition and the impact on a child’s enrollment in school during eviction proceedings.
Utilities: A number of utilities companies, including New York State Electric & Gas and Con Edison, have suspended gas and electric shutoffs for customers having payment difficulties during the response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mortgages: The state announced a relief package Thursday that gave the state authority to require banks to waive mortgage payments for 90 days due to financial hardship. Mortgage holders wouldn’t be exempt from those payments; the payments would be added to the end of the mortgage, said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
What's going on with job market?
It’s not a pretty picture, although many job cuts could be temporary, with workers likely to be rehired as the outbreak abates.
U.S. companies have already announced more than 1,000 job cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to outplacement law firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas and USA TODAY research.
Challenger said job cuts will likely come in waves. Manufacturing and supply-chain companies and travel and tourism will get hit first, followed by consumer service providers such as theaters, stores, restaurants and hair salons.
If the outbreak worsens, some 24% of employers plan to downsize, according to a survey of business owners conducted last week by the wealth manager UBS.
But it’s not all bad. The UBS survey found that 26% of business owners plan to hire workers even if the outbreak worsens.
Delivery and service workers are increasingly becoming indispensable to Americans largely confined to their homes because of concerns about the coronavirus.
Some retailers, such as grocery stores, are ramping up hiring for positions in warehouses and at the checkout counter. Amazon said it will hire 100,000 workers to assist with online orders in the U.S. and raise their minimum pay to at least $17 an hour through April.