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Have you been laid off due to the COVID-19 Pandemic?

March 24, 2020

There are a variety of benefit and aid programs available to Western New Yorkers who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Unemployment insurance is short-term income for qualified employees who lose their employment through no fault of their own. When a person files a claim for unemployment insurance benefits, the Labor Law requires a mandatory seven day waiting period before unemployment benefits may be paid. New York State is now waiving the 7-Day waiting period for Unemployment Insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 work closures or quarantines.

Importantly, your claim must arise directly out of the COVID-19 outbreak, including arising directly out of closings of schools or other workplaces in which you were employed, or out of your isolation or quarantine in connection with COVID-19.

If you have recently lost your job, you should immediately submit an application HERE for unemployment insurance benefits in order to receive temporary income while you search for a job. After you apply, you must claim benefits for each week that you are unemployed and looking for work, including while you are waiting for your benefits to begin.

Because the government’s website crashed due to the increased volume of unemployment claims, the NYS labor department instituted a system recently whereby claimants sign up on a day that corresponds with the first letter of their last name:

            Those with a last name that starts with A-F will file on Mondays.

            Those with a last name that starts with G-N will file on Tuesdays.

            Those with a last name that starts with O-Z will file on Wednesdays.

People who miss their filing day will submit claims on Thursday or Friday. “Filing later in the week will not delay your payments or affect the date of your claim,” per the labor department website, stating that all claims are effective on the Monday of the week in which they’re filed.

Western New Yorkers may also file by telephone: Tel-Service at 888-581-5812. If you use TTY/TDD, call a relay operator first at 800-662-1220, and ask the operator to call the Telephone Claims Center at 888-783-1370. Telephone hours have been extended:

            Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

            Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

            Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

If you are denied unemployment insurance benefits, you should appeal the decision immediately, with the help of an experienced attorney, as you have the right to request a hearing before a New York State Department of Unemployment Insurance Judge or other judicial officer. However, in light of recent developments, all non-essential Court functions in the NYS Courts are postponed until further notice. Please contact HoganWillig to be advised of when your appeal can be heard.

Quarantine Leave and Paid Family Leave/Disability Benefits

Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order indicates that for those individuals who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19, may be entitled to receive quarantine-related paid leave. However, the leave and benefits associated with the new law are narrow, and do not cover many COVID-19 related purposes.

Please contact HoganWillig to address the narrow eligibility for Quarantine Leave and Paid Family Leave/Disability Benefits.

In addition to unemployment insurance benefits, recently unemployed Western New Yorkers should consider:

  1. Applying for COBRA Health Insurance, a health insurance program which permits an eligible employee and his or her dependents the continued benefits of health insurance coverage in the case that an employee loses his or her job, or experiences a reduction of work hours.
  2. Inquiring about Medicaid benefits.

To discuss your legal options, please contact HoganWillig Attorneys at Law, 716-636-7600.

For changing and up-to-date legal information, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.