ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Department of Labor has launched a new application that allows New Yorkers filing for unemployment insurance or assistance due to COVID-19 to fill out one application instead of two.
The state labor department says this will streamline the process for people who lost work due to COVID-19. Until today, federal guidelines required New Yorkers seeking pandemic unemployment assistance to first file for traditional Unemployment Insurance, receive a rejection, then file for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
The federal government has updated its guidelines, allowing New Yorkers to fill out one form to get the benefits that apply to their situation.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is the version of unemployment included in the federal CARES Act. You can read more on whether you qualify and how to apply on this fact sheet from the New York State Department of Labor.
In the weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic reached New York, the Department of Labor began to experience a backlog in filing. Callers reported having to call hundreds of times a day to try to get through. As a result, the Department of Labor announcedchanges to the call system on April 10. The department says since April 8, their backlog of application calls has been reduced from 275,000 to 4,305.
The Department of Labor says more than 3,100 representatives are now solely dedicated to answering unemployment benefit needs. Before the pandemic, 400 workers staffed the call center.