Glossary of Unemployment Terms for Claimants

Unemployment Insurance Glossary of Terms
Term Definition
Appeal The formal request by a claimant or employer to have a case reconsidered by the next higher level authority
Base Period A base period represents one year of your work and wages (four calendar quarters). You must have been paid a minimum amount of wages in these four quarters in order to qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits.
Basic Base Period The first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you file for benefits. The quarter in which you file for benefits does not count as part of your base period.
Alternate Base Period The last four completed calendar quarters immediately before you file for benefits. The quarter in which you file for benefits does not count as part of the Alternate Base Period.
Extended Base Period Your Basic Base Period, plus the one or two quarters preceding it, make up your Extended Base Period. Available only to claimants who received workers compensation or volunteer firefighters’ benefits and who do not qualify on the basis of earnings in their Basic or Alternate Base Periods.
Benefit Rate The benefit rate is the amount of money you receive if you are eligible for a full week of Unemployment Insurance benefits. It is calculated based on your base period employment and earnings.
Benefit Year The benefit year is the one-year period that begins the Monday after the week you filed your original claim. You can be paid benefits for up to 26 weeks or the equivalent during your benefit year. If you remain unemployed or become unemployed during the week immediately following the end of your benefit year, you must file a new claim immediately following the end of your benefit year.
Benefit Year Ending Date (BYE) The benefit year ending date is the date your Unemployment Insurance claim ends. After the benefit year ending date, you can no longer collect Unemployment Insurance benefits on that claim. Your benefit year ending date is shown on documents that we mail to you. You can also find it through your online account at If you were employed for part of your benefit year, but are unemployed after the benefit year ending date, you can file a new claim on our website or by calling the Telephone Claims Center.*
Certifying For Benefits The process of claiming weekly benefits is also called certifying for benefits. This is because when you answer the questions that are part of claiming weekly benefits, you are certifying to the Department of Labor that your answers are true and correct and that you are still ready, willing and able to work.
Civil Penalty The monetary penalty for willfully (knowingly) making false statements or withholding relevant facts to receive benefits. The amount is $100 or 15% of the overpayment amount whichever is greater. See “Monetary Penalty.”
Claim Your claim is your application for Unemployment Insurance benefits. If we approve your application and you are receiving benefits, we will also refer to your open Unemployment Insurance case as your claim.
Claimant Any person seeking Unemployment Insurance benefits.
Covered Employment : Employment that can be used to establish a claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits. The law requires most employers to provide Unemployment Insurance coverage. The employer pays contributions to New York State, which are used to pay your benefits. There are a few types of work that are not covered by Unemployment Insurance. If your work was not covered, the Department of Labor will tell you so in a letter.
Determination For the purposes of the Unemployment Insurance program, a determination is the formal name for a decision the Department of Labor makes concerning your claim. For example, the Monetary Benefit Determination form tells you our decision about how much you may receive in benefits each week. An eligibility determination tells you if you are eligible for benefits. It is important to read, understand and keep any notice you receive from us that has “determination” in its title.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a person with a disability is defined as a person that has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairments, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, and receiving education or vocational training.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Section 407 of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 created a program for the payment of the unemployment assistance to unemployed individuals whose unemployment is a direct result of a major disaster as declared by the President of the United States. 
Dislocated Worker

A dislocated worker is someone who lost their job due to one of the following situations:

  • You were terminated or laid off from your job, are eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits and are identified by us as unlikely to return to your previous industry or occupation
  • You lost your job as a result of a plant closing or substantial layoff
  • You have been unemployed for a long time and are unlikely to get another job in the same or similar occupation, or
  • You were self-employed and are unemployed due to general economic conditions or a natural disaster

You may also be considered a dislocated worker if you have been away from the labor force for a substantial number of years.

Effective Day Each day in a week (Monday through Sunday) that you qualify for benefits is called an effective day. There is a maximum of four effective days each week, and you must qualify for all four effective days in order to receive your total weekly benefit rate. For each day in the week that you are not eligible to receive benefits, you will receive one less effective day, which is equivalent to one fourth of your weekly benefit rate. For example, if you are not available to work one day in a week, or if you worked from 11-16 hours in a week, or have received vacation or holiday pay for one day in a week, your benefits will be reduced by one effective day (the same as one-quarter of your benefit rate). You can receive a maximum of 104 effective days on your claim, which is equivalent to 26 full weeks (4 effective days per week x 26 weeks = 104 effective days).
Extended Benefits Additional weeks of benefits paid during periods of high unemployment as provided by the U.S. Congress.
File a Claim When you make an initial application for Unemployment Insurance benefits. This is not the same as a weekly certification for benefits (see definition of “Certifying for Benefits” above). In order to file a claim online you must set up an account at
599 Program A program that allows you to attend school or training while receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits. You must notify the Department of Labor as soon as you are enrolled in training.
Forfeit Days Forfeit days are future benefits you may claim that you forfeit or lose as a penalty. Each forfeit day equals one effective day (see above). Even if you are otherwise eligible, any claims that you file will first go toward this penalty before you can be paid. Forfeit days can only be applied to claims that are actually filed and can cross over multiple benefit years. The penalty remains in effect until you have served all of your forfeit days or until the expiration date, whichever comes first.
Fraud An act of deceiving or misrepresenting. For example, certifying that you were not working when in fact you were working in order to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits.
Hearing A formal meeting held to consider an appeal of a decision concerning benefits or to resolve a dispute of a material fact between the employer and employee.
Local Labor Market Area Your local labor market area is defined as the area you can reach within one hour by private transportation or one-and-one-half hours by public transportation. You should feel free to expand your job search beyond those areas. Where used in this handbook, your local labor market area is any part of New York State and within fifty (50) miles of its borders.
Misconduct Misconduct is any act or omission which you knew was not permitted on the job and which caused or could have caused harm to the employer
Monetary Benefit Determination A notice that shows whether or not you have enough wages to qualify for benefits. It shows your base period, benefit rate (if any) and employers and wages used to calculate the benefit rate. Important: The Monetary Benefit Determination does not tell you if you are eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. It simply shows if you have enough wages to qualify for a benefit rate. There may be other factors that determine whether or not you are eligible for benefits.
Monetary Penalty A monetary penalty is charged if we have determined that you willfully (knowingly) made false statements or concealed relevant facts to receive benefits. The penalty is $100 or 15% of the overpayment amount, whichever is greater, and is charged in addition to any benefits that must be repaid. See “Civil Penalty.”
Notice of Determination A determination is the formal name for a decision the Department of Labor makes concerning your claim. It is an important document and provides you with a right to a hearing if you disagree.
Occupational Groups
  • Professional: Mathematicians, Programmers, Chemists, Medical, Teaching, Writers, Editors, Entertainment, and Recreation, etc.
  • Technical: Architects, Engineers, Draftsman, Surveyors, etc.
  • Managerial: Managers, Administrators, Buyers, Purchasing Agents, Public Relations, Inspectors, etc.
  • Clerical & Kindred: Secretaries, Typists, Clerks, Cashiers, Telephone Operates, Collectors, etc. 
  • Sales: Salesperson, Sales Clerks, Route Person, Demonstrators, Models, etc.
  • Blue Collar: Factory Worker, Foreperson, Assemblers, Packers, Transportation Services, Seamen, Printing and Publishing, etc. 
  • Farming: Farm Hands, Nursing Workers, Fishermen, etc. 
  • Services Except Private Household: Waiters, Bartenders, Cooks and Maids (except private household), Dry Cleaners, Porters, etc. 
  • Private Household: Housekeepers, Cooks, Maids, etc.
Overpayment An overpayment occurs when you receive Unemployment Insurance benefits that you were not entitled to. In most cases, overpayments must be repaid to the Department of Labor. If you chose to have federal and/or state tax withheld from your benefits, you must repay the withheld amount as well.
Partial Benefits If you work 30 hours or less in a week and earn $504 or less in gross pay, excluding earnings from self-employment, you may receive partial benefits. Receiving partial benefits extends the length of time you may collect benefits until you receive your maximum benefit amount or until your benefit year ends. 
Ready, Willing, and Able When filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you must be prepared to take a job right away, even at a moment’s notice. You must also be able to work (not sick, hospitalized or unable to get child care). Every week, you must verify that you were ready, willing and able to work.
Reason for Separation

The reason you are no longer working.

  • Select Lack of Work if you were let go due to a reduction in force, downsizing, company shutdown, job elimination, company restructuring/reorganization, or a lack of company funds/orders.
  • Select Quit if you voluntarily left your job. 
  • Select Discharged/Other if you were unable to meet employer performance/production standards, or were unable to meet employer's qualifications for the job. 
  • Select Discharged/Fired if you were let go for a violation of company policy, absenteeism, theft, insubordination, drug or alcohol use or a criminal act.
  • Select Strike/Lockout if you are no longer working due to a strike or lockout. 
Reasonable Assurance If you are an employee of an educational institution, you are not eligible for benefits when school is not in session if your employer has given you reasonable assurance that you will be employed and paid in a similar manner once school is back in session. You will have reasonable assurance if: • You have a contract to continue working after a school vacation, holiday recess, or break between terms • Your employer has informed you in good faith that you are likely to continue working in a similar manner after the vacation, recess, or break You could be eligible for benefits if you have wages from other, non-educational employment during the same period of time. Note: Reasonable assurance does not apply to you if you work in an educational institution but your employer is a contractor that provides services to the educational institution.
Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP) The Self-Employment Assistance Program allows certain unemployed people to start their own businesses while collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits. To be eligible for this program, you must be identified by the Department of Labor as likely to exhaust benefits. You must also have 13 or more weeks of benefits left on your claim. You must request and receive written acceptance into the SEAP program from the Department of Labor before you can start or operate your own business while collecting benefits. If you are accepted into the SEAP, you will be able to work full time to start and run your business while collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits, even if you earn money from your business. For more information about the SEAP, go to or contact a New York State Career Center. To find your closest New York State Career Center, go to or call the Department of Labor Contact Center at 888-469-7365 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
TAA Program The Trade Adjustment Assistance (Trade Act) program is a federal program that provides special benefits and services to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade. Contact a New York State Career Center for more information. To find your closest New York State Career Center, go to or call the Department of Labor Contact Center at 888-469-7365 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
Telephone Claims Center The office of the Department of Labor that handles Unemployment Insurance claims. The duties of Department of Labor employees who work at the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) include receiving claims, answering questions from claimants and employers, identifying possible issues with claims, obtaining information necessary to decide a legal issue and making decisions on the legal issue.
Trade Readjustment Act (TRA) TRA which provides benefits to persons affected by foreign imports.
Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) The benefit program for former federal employees.
Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Personnel (UCX) The benefit program for ex-military personnel. 
Unemployment Insurance Cutoff Wage (UI Cutoff Wage) A wage that is 10 percent below the Unemployment Insurance prevailing wage for a given occupation.
Unemployment Insurance Prevailing Wage The prevailing wage is the pay rate for similar jobs in a given area as determined by a survey done by the Department of Labor. Important: The Unemployment Insurance prevailing wage is to be used for Unemployment Insurance purposes only. It is not to be used for prevailing wages for Public Work or Foreign Labor Certification purposes, for example. To find the Unemployment Insurance prevailing wage for a given occupation, please go to or check with a New York State Career Center.
Waiting Period or Week

The first full week you claim benefits is a waiting period or week. You will not receive Unemployment Insurance benefits for this week. After this waiting week, you will receive Unemployment Insurance for each week that you claim weekly benefits.

You must be ready, willing and able to work during this waiting week, just like any other week for which you want to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits. In addition, you must fulfill all work search and related record-keeping requirements.

Week Ending Date The week ending date is the Sunday of the week for which you are claiming benefits.
Week of Employment A Monday-through-Sunday time period in which you were paid wages for work in covered employment.
Willful Misrepresentation When someone makes statements to the Department of Labor that they knew were false.
Work Search Plan A Work Search Plan is a formal agreement that is developed and signed by you and your Workforce Advisor at a New York State Career Center. This agreement spells out in writing exactly what type of work you are looking for, what work search activities you will do and how often you will do them, and the wages you must seek and accept if offered a job. The plan will also address any limitations or restrictions that may affect your job search. To find your closest New York State Career Center, go to or call the Department of Labor Contact Center at 888-469-7365 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday