Should you apply for 'traditional' or 'pandemic' unemployment benefits?

Governor's office is worried people are confused.
Posted at 1:45 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 13:45:16-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — 7 Eyewitness News has heard from many viewers over the past few weeks who are very frustrated in their efforts to apply for New York State unemployment insurance benefits. One of the big complaints is not being able to get a call-back or talk with someone in the Department of Labor (DOL) about a pending claim.

During a visit in Buffalo, Governor Andrew Cuomo told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ali Touhey that 1,000 people are working 7-days/week to make improvements to the department's website and phone system.

However, the governor's office tells 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that many people are still confused by the streamlined application system that went into effect on Monday April 20th.

Under the new system, people no longer need to apply and be denied for traditional unemployment insurance before applying for the new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The program (PUA) is designed to help independent contractors, those who are self-employed, farmers, and others unable to work due to Covid-19, but would not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, get help during the crisis.

It is hoped by removing the 'denied first' requirement it will greatly reduce congestion in the system, make it easier to talk with a DOL representative by phone, and speed up the awarding of unemployment benefits.

There are two application choices on the NYS Department of Labor's website for people who need unemployment benefits: one for traditonal benefits and the other for pandemic assistance.


The NYS Department of Labor provided this fact sheet to help people see if they can qualify for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: