The New York State Department of Labor today announced a new program to inform New Yorkers who have applied for unemployment that Federal law requires them to submit a certification every week to receive their benefits and educate New Yorkers about how to complete that certification. The first step of this campaign was a proactive email sent over the weekend to nearly 90,000 New Yorkers whose unemployment benefit claims are completed, processed, and payable - but who had not submitted a weekly certification, preventing them from being paid. Going forward, DOL will regularly send emails informing New Yorkers when they are able to begin certifying and receiving their benefits.
"Losing your job can be a disorienting experience - especially when it happens during a global pandemic - so we want to make it as simple as possible for New Yorkers to receive the money they are due," NYS Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. "That's why we're launching this campaign to make sure everyone who is applying for unemployment benefits knows how and when to submit their certification and claim the benefits they deserve. This is just another example of how we are using every resource available to connect New Yorkers with their money as quickly as possible, and we will not rest until everyone is receiving the benefits they deserve."
Under federal law, every American receiving unemployment insurance benefits, including traditional unemployment insurance and the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, is required to submit a weekly certification to claim their benefits. This certification confirms that the individual meets all of the conditions for receiving benefits, including that they were unemployed for all or part of the past week and were ready, willing and able to work. During this public health crisis, New Yorkers who cannot work because of the COVID-19 pandemic and New York State on PAUSE orders should answer they were ready, willing and able to work during a week if they otherwise could have worked.
According to Department of Labor records, however, tens of thousands of New Yorkers who are eligible for unemployment benefits - and who could be receiving their funds - have not submitted weekly certifications and claimed their benefits. This could be due to a lag between when New Yorkers' claims are processed, allowing them to begin certifying, and when they receive a "Monetary Determination Letter" in the mail, which tells them to begin certifying.
In response, the Department of Labor is launching a communications campaign to ensure every New Yorker who is unemployed understands how and when to certify.
As part of this effort, the Department of Labor will begin emailing New Yorkers who provided email addresses on their application when their claims are processed and become payable, providing them the information they need on certifications quicker and allowing them to access their benefits faster. Over the weekend the first of these emails was sent to approximately 90,000 New Yorkers who have fully completed and processed unemployment benefit applications, but who have not yet certified.
Over the coming weeks, the Department of Labor will highlight information including:
- When to certify:
- You can begin certifying when your application switches from "pending" to "payable" - you will know this because you will receive an email from the Department of Labor (if you provided an email on your application) and a letter.
- For the purposes of Unemployment Insurance, a week runs from Monday to Sunday.
- New Yorkers must submit their certification for a given week on the last day of that week (Sunday) through the following Saturday. This is called your "claim window."
- Any certification made on a Sunday is for the week ending that day.
- How to certify:
- New Yorkers are encouraged to certify online, which is the easiest and fastest way to certify, at www.labor.ny.gov/signin
- Enter your NY.gov username and password.
- Click the "Unemployment Services" button on the My Online Services page.
- Then click "Claim Weekly Benefits" and follow the instructions.
- If you cannot certify online, you can certify via an automated phone system, by calling 1-888-581-5812 (for traditional unemployment insurance) or 1-833-324-0366 (for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance)
Facing an unprecedented surge in unemployment claims and a large number of partially complete claims with missing or incomplete Federal Employer Identification Numbers, which require a phone call to complete, the Department of Labor has taken decisive action to update its system, streamline operations, and improve its capacity to serve New Yorkers. These efforts include:
- Issuing a directive requiring New York-based employers to provide New Yorkers with the information they need to apply for unemployment benefits, including the company's Federal Employer Identification Number;
- Launching a new, streamlined website backed by Google Cloud's infrastructure, which can automatically scale to meet demand, and rolling out an updated application that allows New Yorkers to seamlessly apply for either traditional unemployment insurance or the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in one system - well before many other states launched their PUA applications;
- Undertaking a major call-back initiative to proactively call New Yorkers with partially completed applications and obtain the information needed to process their claims. To date, the DOL has made over 670,000 proactive calls;
- Increasing the number of Department of Labor representatives handling calls and processing applications from 400 people working five days a week to up to 3,100 individuals working seven days a week; and
- Being among the first states to release the additional $600 weekly payments to unemployed individuals - even before the federal government made funding available.