Unemployment benefits are temporary income for workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The money to pay the benefits come from taxes that employers pay to the state. The New York State Department of Labor administers unemployment benefits and decides who is eligible for unemployment.
To qualify for unemployment insurance, you must be willing and able to work and must be a job seeker. In addition, you must have worked for at least two calendar quarters in the year prior to your unemployment claim, and you must have been paid $1,600 or more during on of those calendar quarters. You are generally eligible for unemployment benefits if you were laid off from your job, but the final call will be up to the Department of Labor, which decides on eligibility for claims on an individual basis.
If you were fired for violating company policies, rules or procedures, you won't be eligible to claim unemployment benefits. This includes insubordination or absenteeism. In general, if you were fired from your job, you most likely will have your claim denied unless you were fired because you didn't meet the job standards. If you quit your job or if your unemployment is due to a strike, your claim will also be denied.
How to Apply
File a claim with the Department of Labor during the first week of unemployment. You must have earned less than $405 (as of January 2011) during that week. The Department of Labor has an online application (see Resources) where you can file your claim. You can also call the Department of Labor's Telephone Claims Center at 1-888-209-8124; it has a translation service for non-English speakers. The phone line is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Calculation of Benefits
Your unemployment benefit is based on what you earned during your qualifying calendar quarters. The weekly benefit rate will be 1/26th of your salary for the two quarters showing your highest earnings, unless you earned $3,575 or less (as of January 2011), in which case your benefits will be 1/25th of your income for the two calendar quarters. The maximum benefit you can be awarded is $405 per week; the benefit is reduced if you begin to earn income.