NYS Unemployment Benefits
Following a job loss the last thing you want to worry about is how to qualify for New York unemployment insurance. Unfortunately, the rules, codes and regulations surrounding unemployment benefits for New York State (“NYS”) are quite cumbersome and difficult to understand (even for attorneys!). My goal with this article is to help you sift through the confusing language and gain a better understanding of when you qualify for NYS unemployment benefits.
Qualifying For NYS Unemployment Benefits
The key indicator of whether you will be entitled to receive unemployment benefits is the amount of income you have earned during a period called your “Base Period”. The term “Base Period” is a critical legal term that plays a large part in unemployment benefit law. It is important that you understand what your Base Period is at the time you apply for benefits to ensure that you qualify and have your application approved.
The Base Period is defined as the previous four calendar quarters excluding the calendar quarter you are currently in. So, for example, if you are now in the 3rd quarter of 2009, your Base Period for purposes of NYS unemployment benefits would be:
- The 2nd quarter of 2009
- The 1st quarter of 2009
- The 4th quarter of 2008
- The 3rd quarter of 2008
Always exclude the calendar quarter you are currently in to properly calculate your Base Period.
With that definition in mind, to qualify for NYS unemployment insurance you need to meet the following three income criteria:
- You must have been working and earning wages in at least two calendar quarters of your Base Period AND
- You have earned a minimum of $1,600 in at least one calendar quarter of your Base Period AND
- The total amount of income you earned during your Base Period must equal one and one-half times the wages you earned in the calendar quarter you earned the most income.
If you meet these three criteria, NYS Dept of Labor also requires that you have earned at least a combined amount of $4,455 during the three calendar quarters that are not the quarters you earned the highest amount of income. For example, if you earned $2,000 in three quarters of your Base Period and $2,500 in a fourth quarter, the $2,000 multiplied by three equals more than the $4,455 dollar amount and is less than the fourth quarter’s earnings. Therefore, you would meet this requirement.
Prior Employment Requirements
In addition to earning a particular amount of income during your Base Period you must have had a certain type of employment before you became unemployed to receive NYS unemployment benefits. New York law requires that anyone who receives unemployment insurance compensation have worked in the State of New York for a minimum of the last 18 months. Additionally, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own (like willful disobedience, for example) or if you are now unemployed for any of the following reasons:
- You were laid off because there wasn’t enough work to keep you employed
- You were engaged in seasonal or temporary work
- Your company downsized
- The company went through a reorganization or restructuring which eliminated your position
For more information on NYS unemployment benefits, see the NY Dept of Labor’s website.
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