SEAP Benchmark and Training Frequently Asked Questions

Benchmark and Trainings
Frequently Asked Questions
Questions Answers
What are benchmark forms?

The SEAP gives you the opportunity to start your own business. If accepted into the SEAP, you will work full time on establishing your own business while receiving weekly Unemployment Insurance benefits, even if your business is making money. You will not have to look for other work. However, you must receive a written SEAP approval letter before you can start or operate your own business, and you must have 20 hours of entrepreneurial training and two face-to-face meetings with a business counselor to complete the program.These are forms you need to fill out and submit while you are in the SEAP. They will be used to monitor your completion of the program. The due dates for all forms will be given to you when you are approved. The benchmark forms are:
Individual Services Plan (ES161.1);
Business Strategy (ES161.2);
Individual Progress Report (ES161.3) and;
Individual Services Verification Form (ES161.4)

You can get the benchmark forms on the forms and publications page for Unemployment Insurance claimants.

It is easy to submit your benchmark forms online. Log in to your account, select “Messages,” and then “Compose New.” Use “SEAP” as the first subject line and “Submit SEAP Benchmark Forms” as the second subject line of your message. Then attach your forms to your message.
We encourage you to create an account if you have not done so already. It is convenient and secure, and it also results in faster benefit payments.

What happens if I submit my benchmark forms late or the forms are incomplete?

If the form is late, the SEAP benefits will not be paid from the date the form was due through the date it is received and accepted as complete. This means late forms will result in a suspension of your weekly benefits. You will not receive suspended weeks in a lump-sum payment. You will only receive benefits from the date the form is received and accepted as complete.

Where do I find a business counselor?

You can contact local organizations such as SCORE to find a business counselor. These organizations provide free, one-on-one counseling as well as educational workshops/webinars to individuals interested in starting a business. The Department of Labor does not provide business counselors. See our Resources for Entrepreneurs for a list of organizations that can help.

How many times must I meet with my business counselor?

The SEAP requires a minimum of two face-to-face meetings with your business counselor prior to submitting your business strategy. However, you are encouraged to meet more frequently, if necessary.

Where can I find 20 hours of entrepreneurial training?

See our Resources for Entrepreneurs for a list of organizations that can help, including: Small Business Administration; SCORE; Small Business Development Center; Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers; or the Women’s Business Centers.
Other sources of training are: New York City Business Solutions; The Office of Entrepreneurial Education; local chambers of commerce; libraries; and community colleges

Consider training topics related to: business planning and operations; marketing; accounting and finance; business licensing, etc. You may use any provider that offers entrepreneurial training.

Can I take online classes?

Yes, you can take online classes. However, the in-person classes or workshops also offer you networking opportunities. While we recommend in-person classes or workshops for this reason, it may not be feasible in all situations.
Before you choose a class, you should check to make sure that the course offers a certificate of completion, or that someone can sign your Individual Services Verification Form.

Do I need an instructor’s signature on the Individual Service Verification Forms?

No, you may submit a certificate of completion. This certificate must include the school or agency, the class title, the date you took the class and the number of hours it took you to complete the class. If you cannot get a certificate of completion, and your business counselor can verify you took the class, your business counselor can sign the form.

What if I don’t want to continue with my business?

You may withdraw from the SEAP at any time during your Unemployment Insurance claim. You must submit a Withdrawal Form. You will be required to resume your work search and meet all eligibility requirements for Unemployment Insurance benefits.