Unemployment Insurance Benefit Rules for Teachers and Other School Workers


If you work for an educational institution and lose your job through no fault of your own, you may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. For example, if your employer discharged or fired you because you could not meet their performance or production standards or their qualifications for the job.

Other examples include:

  • Layoffs
  • Contracts Expired
  • Furloughs
  • Reductions in Force (RIF)

DOL has launched an updated, streamlined online application that allows New Yorkers to apply for UI remotely.

Important Update: As of September 5, 2021, several federal unemployment benefit programs, including PUA, PEUC, EB, and FPUC, have expired, per federal law. For more information, visit dol.ny.gov/fedexp.


Federal law requires all states to have laws governing the payment of unemployment benefits when an educational institution provides its employees with reasonable assurance that they will return to work in, for example, the fall. 

The reasonable assurance law applies to two groups of educational institution employees: 
(a) teachers, instructors, researchers, and administrators; and 
(b) those serving in other supporting roles, including nurses, maintenance, aides, clerks, bus drivers, and crossing guards.

New York’s reasonable assurance law does not apply where a person is working as a contractor for a private company that happens to perform services for an educational institution, e.g., a contracted bus driver. 

Reasonable assurance can be demonstrated in a lot of different ways, including: 

  • a letter for hire, 
  • a letter for rehire, and 
  • verbal assurance, if reasonable under the circumstances.  

Reasonable assurance for substitute teachers and per diems will generally be found where: 

  • There is notice that the teacher will be placed on a substitute list;  
  • The list will be used for placing substitutes; 
  • There is a reasonable expectation that substitute positions will exist; and 
  • The substitute can expect to earn at least 90% of the prior term’s remuneration (wages and benefits). 

If reasonable assurance is given, then the wages earned from working for that educational institution(s) cannot be used to establish an unemployment claim.  

If a school employee has been given reasonable assurance, the employee may still may be able to file a claim if the employee had other employment within the base period — a second job, for example — where sufficient wages were earned to independently qualify for benefits.  

Eligibility for benefits is determined on a case-by-case basis. Your claim will be reviewed to determine if you qualify. If you disagree with any determination issued by the Department of Labor, you have the right to request a hearing.  If you request a hearing more than 30 days after issuance of the determination, you need to show good cause why you were unable to request the hearing within the 30-day period.


Payment Options

If you apply for unemployment insurance, you will be asked if you want to receive your benefits by direct deposit or debit card.

If you apply over the phone, you will automatically receive your benefits via debit card unless you had a previous claim and you received them by direct deposit.

How To File

Sign in or create a NY.gov ID account and follow the instructions to file a claim. 

If you have never filed a claim for benefits in New York State, you must create a PIN. This is a four-digit number that you must keep confidential. This PIN will be used to access the system to certify for weekly benefits and update your account. 

Ready? Make sure you have with you:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your driver's license or Motor Vehicle ID card number (if you have either one)
  • Your complete mailing address and zip code
  • A phone number where we can reach you from 8 am - 5 pm, Monday – Friday
  • Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. Citizen and have a card)
  • Names and addresses of all your employers for the last 18 months, including those in other states
  • Employer Registration number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your most recent employer (FEIN is on your W-2 forms)
  • Your copies of forms SF8 and SF50, if you were a federal employee
  • Your most recent separation form (DD 214), for military service

You can file a claim without all of these documents. However, missing information can delay your first payment.

If you cannot print web pages, have a pen and paper to copy information.

If you choose direct deposit of your weekly benefits, you will need to know your bank routing and checking account numbers. You cannot choose direct deposit if you file your claim by telephone.


It is best to apply for unemployment insurance benefits online.

Apply Online Now

File By Telephone

Call our Telephone Claim Center, toll-free during business hours to file a claim.

  • 1-888-209-8124
  • Telephone filing hours are as follows:
    • Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.


If you file by phone, we offer translation services. Use your phone keypad to enter the number for the language you choose.  A voice recording will offer you these choices:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Russian
  • Cantonese
  • Mandarin
  • Creole
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • All other languages

Hearing Impaired

Have your helper call the Telephone Claims Center at 1-888-783-1370.


Call a relay operator first at 1-800-662-1220, and ask the operator to call the Telephone Claims Center at 1-888-783-1370.

For more information, see our fact sheet: Do you help others apply or file for Unemployment Insurance?

What's Next

After you apply for unemployment insurance benefits, this is what you can expect: 

  • If you are eligible, your first payment will generally be made in two to three weeks from the time your claim is completed and processed. In some cases, we must get additional information before payment can be made and your first payment may take longer. We use this time to review and process your application for benefits. You will not receive benefits during this period. This is why you may see your claim status as “pending.”
  • You should respond to any questionnaires, messages, or phone calls from us as quickly as possible. Failure to do so will delay your claim or result in the denial or suspension of your benefits. PLEASE NOTE: Like many New Yorkers, DOL representatives are working from home, so your caller ID may show "PRIVATE CALLER.” Anyone calling from DOL will verify their identity by providing: (a) the date you filed your application; & (b) the type of claim. Once you have been verified, a representative may ask for your social security number.
  • If you received benefits on a prior claim (before June 2023) by using a debit card you will be sent a new Way2Go Card to access your benefits.
  • If you filed a prior claim and you received benefits on that prior claim by direct deposit, any benefits due to you on this claim will go to the bank account we have on file. If your bank account has changed, please immediately update your banking information by using our website. 
  • To find out when your most recent payment was released or to see a history of all payments made on your claim, sign in to your account.
  • After you complete your application for a new claim for benefits, you will receive a Monetary Determination in the mail informing you of your weekly benefit rate, the base period used to establish your claim, and the employers and wages used to calculate your weekly benefit rate.  
  • If the wages are wrong, or if any employers are missing, fill out and send to us the Request for Reconsideration form.
  • To speed our review of your claim, be sure to submit proof of your employment and wages. If you have no pay stubs, please send any documents you may have that can be used as proof. 
  • You should certify for benefits for each week you remain unemployed, as soon as you receive notification from the DOL to do so. Learn how to certify each week.