How Long Do I Have to Work For to Collect Unemployment in New York?

New York defines an employer as having paid at least $300 in wages during any quarter.

To qualify for unemployment insurance in NY, your total base period earnings must be at least 1.5 times your HQW. Your HQW must be a minimum of at least 221 times NY’s minimum wage, which gets rounded to the next lowest $100 if needed.

NY’s minimum wage is $8.

Therefore, the minimum required HQW is $1,700, making the minimum required base period earnings to be $2,550.

New York does not offer an extended base period; however, an alternate base period, which considers the last four completed calendar quarters in the base period (instead of the first four), is available for those who fail to qualify under the regular base period.

60 comments

  • Shelley Saville

    Hello,
    My situation is complicated. I was rehired to an organization in January 2016 I worked at for 9 years after a 3 week lapse for “program development.” After 8 months the job I was questioned the development and was told they could not guarentee I would have a job. I resigned in August 2016 and worked pt( 6 hours a week) until 12/16. I started a contract position FT 1/3/17 (FT) and was offered a position in my field to start 4/10. I left the contract position 2 week early to start. I stayed in the position for 8 days. I was put on 24/7 on call which was different from on call responsibilities in the job description and it had risk factors. I said I was iunable to meet the demands of the job and it was not what we had discussed. If I had been informed I never would have accepted. They asked I stay until the end of the week and then said to leave. Their was no paperwork of any sort.. Now I have have no position and could have extended my work at previous. Can I collect?

    • Maybe. NY does its best to avoid appeals and will investigate both recent separations carefully. In order for NY to approve benefits, you will need to justify the quit from the contract job – in other words demonstrate good cause for leaving that job for the second – which was mispresented and from which you’ve been discharged. Gather together whatever evidence you can on how the second job as presented to you was materially better than the first. It may take a while for NY to render its decision.

      • Denise gaskin

        I only worked six months at a company and was told by my employer I wasn’t entitled to unemployment is that true!

        • No. Six months work means earnings in at least two quarters, which is all that is necessary in NY, assuming total wages are at least 1.5x your high quarter. Further, even if you hadn’t worked at that employer for more than one quarter, if you have wages prior to that, you might still have eligibility. Length of time at employer doesn’t matter. What matters is wages from ALL employers in the base-period for the claim. NY explains monetary eligibility, here:

          https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/factsheets/pdfs/p832.pdf

          If you apply now, NY will examine wages Jan-Dec. 2016, or under its alternate base period April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017. If you have two quarters of earnings in either of those periods, unless total earnings don’t meet 1.5x your high quarter (unlikely), you would still qualify for a claim. By all means apply, if this is the case.

          NEVER listen to an employer on unemployment insurance benefit matters. They are often misinformed, or intentionally mislead.

          NY claimant handbook, here:

          https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/ui/TC318.3e.pdf

  • L G B

    I worked for a company for over 10 years and left that job for another job opportunity closer to home. I worked at the new company for 1 month before they terminated my employment. Unemployment based my benefits on my previous job but apparently have been charging my previous employer who are now contesting my eligibility. Am I eligible for benefits if I only have the months worth at the new job? Or will they terminate my benefits?

    • Employers current and past, if their wages appear in the base period, will often contest. You quit that earlier job. Unless there is a very good cause reason for the quit, such as compelling personal reason and, possibly, materially better remuneration/job, most states impose an earnings penalty before claimant is eligible.

      NY’s requirement to purge the penalty is that you have worked 3 days a week in each of five weeks and earned at least 5x your WBA at the new job. You may have missed the mark by one week.

      For some reason, NY did not consider the prior quit an issue. It may not be now. Depends on the circumstances of the quit, why NY ignored the earlier quit and approved the claim in the first place, and what your employer is alleging.

      Chances you should be OK.

  • Rebecca J

    Hello, I worked the entire year of 2016 through Feb 28th 2017 at 2 different jobs, I left the last job on feb 28th 2017 for a better opportunity job(so I thought) that I started 3/6/2017. I found out on 04/11/17 that I was being let go. When i asked why the office manager said she didnt have to give me a reason because I only worked there 5 weeks and it was still a probationary period. Even though she didn’t tell me why i sort of knew why. The day before she yelled at me in front of my coworkers over making a simple mistake and told me I had no common sense. Later that day in her office i cried to her and said not only did she humiliate me infront of my peers but I said i felt she bullied me at times from other incidents that happened too. I was very nice to her and she said I was bring dramatic and this is not kindergarten she said I needed to have a thicker skin. I replied I understand but i want us to respect each other and please take into consideration i just started this job a month ago and I am still learning. She then asked if i felt overwhelmed at times and i was honest and said at times yes but I will work harder. The next day i came into work, went about my day and after my break she brought me into her office and said it was going to be my last day. I was very shocked and hurt because I knew I was being let go because i told her the previous day I felt picked on. I believe it was a total power trip thing with my office manager and she just wanted to be rid of me. My question is am I eligible for benefits even if I was only at this employer 5 weeks? I worked the entire year of 2016 with no gaps and the first 3 1/2 months of 2017. I am in NYC as was all my jobs. Thank you for your time.

    • You are eligible for benefits. In your case, because you’ve worked five weeks at the new job, time worked at your most recent job doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have at least two quarters wages in your base period. Applying now, NY will use a base period of Jan-Dec. 2016. NY describes how it calculates eligibility and benefits, here:

      https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/factsheets/pdfs/p832.pdf

      • Rebecca J

        Thank you so much.

        • One more thing. The previous quit, if not for good cause, could have affected your eligibility – if you had not already worked five weeks at the new employer. Five weeks at the new job purges any penalty by NY for this quit. In most states, if you can prove the new job was better than the one you quit, the quit is ignored. Nonetheless, even though the good-cause quit issue is moot, you may need to provide NY paystubs for those five weeks as those wages may not yet appear in NY’s database.

          • Rebecca J

            Hello again, and thank you for that additional information. I did receive 3 envelopes from the department of labor. In 1 of them in was information stating that I am indeed eligible for benefits. Just like you said in your first response to me they are basing it on the year 2016 that I worked and I am eligable for the max benefit, so thank you again for thay correct information. My concern now is what was in another envelope. The next envelope was a questionaire they wanted me to fill out asking me to explain what happened since I was fired for something other than lack of work. They said my application is pending regarding this investigation that could take 3 weeks. I filled it out and explained in detail the whole story. How when I was let go my office manager did not give a reason. And also she specifically told me when I asked why that she did not need a reason to fire me and that because I was only there 5 weeks, and said I would not be getting a termination letter either. I also explained even though she did not give me a reason why, I said I believe I was let go because I expressed my concern to my office manager that I felt at times she was picking on me, even for things not work related. Lastly on the questionnaire it asked for me to send any proof to support my statement. I sent an email thread between myself and my office manager after I was let go. In the thread it clearly shows by what she says, no reason was given for my fire and she refuses to give me a termination letter. Also I sent a printed out text message thread between me and a co-worker from the job. It shows in the text message that coworker reaching out to me about 45 mins after I was fired and asked to leave, she says how sorry she was to hear what happened to me and that it was really nice working with me. So I sent the email thread between myself and my office manager and the text message between me and a coworker who reached out to me after. My question for you is how does my case look to get approved for benefits? Honestly I believe I was wrongfully terminated. This fire came out of the blue all because I stood up to my boss and said I felt bullied, she fired me because she did not want to have to deal with that. Was I wrong for anything I did? I was never late, never missed a day of work and got compliments all of the time from patients I helped at the office. I am just wondering what my boss could possibly say about this ordeal. Please let me know when you have time again I would greatly appreciate the help. I had a nice interview at a possible new job yesterday but who knows if I will get it or how long I might be unemployment. I’ve been sick to my stomach with worry since this happened.

          • If employer doesn’t allege misconduct, you should be fine. NY does a better job than most states initially examining the facts of a claim.

  • John

    Hello I live in NY. worked for a shipping industry for 5 months in international waters. I got paid biweekly in alotments and when i got home I was paid my full salary and overtime. So i only got paid in 1 check in 1 quarter for the whole 5 months.How do i put this into 2 quarters so i can collect unemployment,

  • Kasha Ollivierre

    Hi I’ve been at my job for 10 months on April 28th and will be terminated due to the position being seasonal. I began working for them in June 2016. Prior to that I worked from January 2016-June 2016 at another organization. Will I be able to apply for unemployment?

    Also if I work for a job 3 days (15hrs for total) can I receive partial unemployment?

    • Based on your work history, you are eligible for benefits. However, NY has a partial benefit formula which reduces the weekly benefit paid by 25% for each day or part of a day you work.

      Therefore, if you keep the part-time job, NY will reduce the amount it pays each week by 75% and will pay you 25% of the weekly benefit. In other words, if you were eligible for a benefit of $400/wk, NY would pay you $100.

      Also, know that if you quit this part-time job without good cause after you’ve lost your seasonal job, NY will not pay benefits at all until you’ve worked again at 3 days work in each of 5 weeks and earned 5 x WBA. If you quit the part-time job before you lose the seasonal job, the same parameter will apply, although any monies you’ve earned at the seasonal job will count toward this penalty.

      NY handbook explains its partial benefit on p.19, here:

      https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/ui/TC318.3e.pdf

  • Afkan Jenen

    Hello I live in NY and I just want to know for how long must a person be employed in order to collect unemployment? I’ve worked at a company for 2 months but they will be closed for Passover.

    • You need two quarters of earnings in your base period which means, if you apply now, NY considers earnings first Jan-Dec. 2016, or Apr 1, 2016 through Mar 31, 2017 if Jan-Dec doesn’t qualify you.

      If you have no employment in 2016 prior to this job, you don’t qualify in NY at this time.

      Further, NY has an unpaid waiting week. So, you wouldn’t be paid for that first week of Passover break even if you were qualified.

      NY says this on how it qualifies:

      Earnings required to qualify for benefits

      To qualify for benefits, you must meet all three of the following earnings requirements during your base period (basic or alternate):
      • You must have worked and been paid wages in jobs covered by Unemployment Insurance in at least two calendar quarters;
      • For claims filed in 2016, you must have been paid at least $1,900 in one calendar quarter (this amount increases to $2,100 for claims filed in 2017); and
      • The total wages paid to you must be at least 1.5 times the amount paid to
      you in your high quarter.

      https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/ui/TC318.3e.pdf

  • Aphrodite

    I just got approved for unemployment and even though I was approved for the maximum, I am only getting @$384.00 and it says 4 days. What does that mean and why is it prorated?

    • NY calculates its benefits using a four-day week, not five. NY unemployment claims can pay its full weekly benefit for up to a maximum of 26 weeks – or a maximum of 104 (26×4=104) days’ benefits.

      If you were awarded the maximum of $430/week, your award letter should have so said. Thus, if someone received the maximum of $430/wk, the per diem would be $107.50 per day ($107.50×4=$430).

      Even if the $384 was prorated for a four-day week, which it wasn’t, that would put your weekly benefit at $96×5=$480 week – which is not possible, b/c the maximum weekly benefit in NY is $430.

      If you were, in fact, awarded $430/wk, the only explanation for the $36 reduction might be some type of compensation attributable to that week. However, that explanation is inconsistent with how NY calculates partial benefits. NY never takes into account $$ earned, only “days” worked. A “day” of work in NY could be as little as 15 minutes, but would result in a 25% reduction in the benefit for that week.

      Otherwise, if NY did not make a deduction for any reason, it would appear your weekly benefit is $384 – not the NY maximum of $430.

      If you are still unclear on the amount of your weekly benefit, best call NY and ask why you were paid $384 instead of $430. To my knowledge, NY is not charging a setup fee for claims, but that also may be one possible explanation. If you get a decent answer to the question on this deduction, it would be helpful if you could post back.

      You may want to read the NY handbook, here:

      https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/ui/TC318.3e.pdf

      • Aphrodite

        This is what it says: What does Net Amount mean? They are not answering the phone there is a long waiting time

        Payment History
        Week Ending Total Amount Net Amount Effective Days Release Date Type
        04/02/2017 $430.00 $376.25 4 04/04/2017 Direct Deposit

        • OK, NY’s maximum benefit is $430, increased from $420 effective 10/1/2016. That said, it occurs to me you may have opted for taxes to be withheld from your benefit, which is why NY isn’t paying you the full $430. NY may have deducted $53.75 for city/state/federal taxes.

          You should be able to confirm this and to opt out of this withholding by accessing your account online. Otherwise, keep trying to call NY. You’ll probably have better luck trying first thing in the a.m. next week. I’m not a believer in having taxes withheld from UE benefits. Most people need every dime. You can always deal with paying what you owe, if anything, next year when you file. IRS doesn’t penalize for underpayment if less than $1,000.

          If taxes aren’t the issue, then there may be some type of garnishment to which you are subject. Most common is child support.

  • James brooks

    Hello I was recently at a company for 8 1/2 years and took a diffrent job with a diffrent company in which I was terminated from.
    I was first brought into the office in February and told there was some complaints aganist me. That i was whistling, i was too loud on the phone and that I was being accused of starring. This past Thursday I was called into the office to be told that I was being terminated because I had 2 more complaints about starring and that the owners felt I was not a good fit. because I was told that I was starring at people and they felt uncomfortable. I have not missed in any work time so my question is will I get unemployment. I left my old job December 1 started this new job December 5 and was let go March 30. All of these jobs are in nys.

  • Alex

    I have somehow unique situation. I live in NJ and worked in NJ for 20 years. Was let go due to reduction in force in August 2016. Started collecting NJ unemployment whilst looking for a new job. After 5 weeks of collecting UI, I found a new position in NY and started with them in September 2016. In March 2017, I was let go for lack of work. My total employment span with them was exactly 180 days. My dilemma is: Do i file a new claim in NJ since my last employment still falls within the base period or do I need to file for UI in NY since this is where my last job was? Or Should I/Can I file in both?

    • NY won’t open a new claim at this time because of the existing unexhausted NJ claim.

      So, you REOPEN now the existing NJ claim and continue to exhaust those benefits. If you had a 26-week claim and since you’ve only collected 5 weeks, chances are your claim will be exhausted just about the time your NJ benefit year expires in August.

      You want to continue to claim from NJ – which pays 60% of your average weekly wage up to $677 vs. NY’s 50% up to $430 – plus NJ’s partial benefit if you work part-time is better than NY’s.

      If you are still unemployed when the NJ claim expires, because you have worked during your benefit year, you apply for a requalifying NJ combined-wage claim to include the NY earnings which should provide almost as good a benefit as you are getting now. You may need to provide proof of NY earnings to NJ – although NJ has access to the NY earnings database.

      Call a NJ rep to reapply when that time comes v. applying online.

  • Sharon

    Ive been sick back and forth to the hospital and Doctor’s i have all my documentation my job is trying to let me go would i be eligible if they fire me ?

  • Nolan

    Hi — I was let go from my previous company that I worked for 1.4 years in Sept 2016 due to corporate restructuring. I’m currently in a new role at a new company that I’ve worked for about 5 months now and the anxiety in the work environment is affecting my health and performance. If I quit my current role now would I still be eligible for unemployment in NY?

    • You need medical documentation of this issue and need to talk to employer about stress reduction and employer correction of these issues before you can quit. Keep a paper trail. You will need to provide evidence to NY of your efforts to maintain the employer relationship and your medical issues.

      If you’re lucky, they’ll discharge you. It’s much easier to get benefits under a discharge, as opposed to a quit, although NY is quite fair in its claims adjudication.

  • Becky Millet

    Hello,

    I started working in dec 5, 2016 and was laid off march 3, 2017. due to lack of work. Can I collect UI.

    • Only if you have other earnings in 2016. Applying now, NY examines earnings Jan-Dec. 2016. Otherwise, if you file the first week in April, there may be enough earnings to create claim eligibility as NY will be using earnings through 3/31/2017.

  • Jasmine

    Hi I started on my job sep 27th 2016 I was laid off due to lack of sales . This happened March 2nd am I eligible for unemployment and how do I apply

  • Ray

    Hi, I was hired into a job in NY starting Sep 12, 2016, then laid off due to lack of work effective February 24, 2017. Immediately prior to that, I worked in DE for 11 years. I have had no luck contacting a UI official in either state, and am not sure how to proceed. Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    • Generally, NY is accessible by phone. Eventually, most people get through.

      FYI – NY pays up to $430/wk benefit; Delaware up to $330/wk. Technically, you could file online in DE, get a 26 wk claim; when that is exhausted, file in NY and qualify for another 26 week claim. You need to determine how important that $100/wk is to you right now versus the possibility of two back-to-back claims.

      If you apply online in NY at this time, NY will examine earnings 9/2016-Dec. 2016. Two quarters qualifies you, weekly benefit is determined by dividing your high quarter by 26. Max NY benefit is $430. You could also request a combined-wage claim to include the Delaware earnings, but would need to speak to a NY rep to do this. A combined-wage claim probably won’t improve your weekly benefit but would preserve another quarter of wages for a future claim should you need one a year from now.

      You can start the online application process online, here.

      https://labor.ny.gov/ui/how_to_file_claim.shtm

      NY claimant handbook, here:

      https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/ui/TC318.3e.pdf

  • Marco deangelo

    I worked for company for 20 months and was laid off for no reason. I took another job immediately and got fired only after 3 weeks for being late or was discharged.

    That’s exactly 20 months of work from one company then 3 weeks from the second company. Now I’m unemployed. Am I still eligible for benefits in New York since my last job was only. 3 weeks?

    • Length of time on the most recent job is not an issue. Earnings in your base period are. NY requires you have earnings in at least two quarters of your base period. Your claim will be based on all earnings between Oct. 1, 2015-September 30, 2016, not this most recent job. On the earnings side, you should be fine. Discharge for misconduct/tardiness may be the disqualifier although NY is not unreasonable – especially if this was a one-time occurrence w/no warning.

      Apply now to preserve a wages in your base period for a possible second year claim should you need it.

  • Debra

    Hello Daphne
    I worked for a Salon for 5 months September 14- February 19 2017
    I loved my job. Heartbroken that I was let go. Am I eligible for unemployment until I find another job. It may take months to find another job and I’m very concerned about surviving until then.

    • Filing now, NY will use wages Jan-Dec. 2016. If you have no other earnings prior to September, you probably don’t qualify because your total wages won’t meet the 1.5x high quarter test. This is how NY will qualify you:

      • You must have worked and been paid wages in jobs covered by Unemployment Insurance in at least two calendar quarters;
      • For claims filed in 2017, you must have been paid at least $2,100 in one calendar quarter; and
      • The total wages paid to you must be at least 1.5 times the amount paid to you in your high quarter. Your high quarter is the quarter of your base period in which you were paid the most money

  • Enzo

    I started to worked in the restaurant on July 2016 until september. And i got a job and worked for 3 months. (Oct – dec.) 2016.

    My question is, am i eligible to file an unemployment, tho i worked in two different jobs. And i earned like 15,500 to be exact.

  • Paul

    I was employed in NY State only in the past quater of 2016. The previous 3 quarters I was employed in California. I was let go on January 30th if 2017. Dept of labor has indicated that I do not qualify for unemployment because I did not work long enough. Is this accurate? Do I have any recourse?

    Thank you in advance.

    • You have the best of both worlds, actually, with the potential for back-to-back claims in both states. Even though your last employment was in NY and you live in NY, you apply in California because the wages in your base period are in CA.

      CA pays $450/wk vs. NY $430 and has a better partial benefit formula than NY if you work while collecting benefits. CA will use wages 10/1/2015-9/30/2016 to establish your claim – two quarters (6/30 & 9/30) should provide benefits for 26 weeks. CA will even establish a claim with one quarter of earnings.

      When CA benefits are exhausted, you then apply in NY, requesting a combined wage claim – which will pick up your NY wages and what remains of your CA wages.

  • Lisa

    I was fired on 1/10 due to poor performance. My employer said they would pay me Severence and in the Severence agreement it says it would be paid “immediately”. I haven’t received the payment yet and it’s almost a month. NY state sent me a questionnaire asking me about the Severence payment. What should I write down in NYstate questionnaire as to the date I am going to be paid my Severence?

    • NY has a law which states NY can pay unemployment benefits immediately IF your severance is not paid until at least 31 days after discharge. So, this delay is a GOOD thing for you. If severance had been paid immediately, NY would delay payments until the severance had been exhausted.

      For now, tell NY you will be receiving the severance AFTER 31 days from discharge – pick a date that conforms. NY usually also wants a copy of whatever severance documents you received. When you submit the agreement, you state clearly employer has NOT paid this severance, despite what the agreement says. You then report the severance when you finally get it.

  • Lorraine niforos

    If your job is eliminated and you collect severance for 1 year and then you sign up for early social security, can you collect unemployment once your severance package is over.

    • Yes, if you time your filing correctly.

      When did severance payments begin? Whether weekly or lump sum, in NY, if severance payments began 31 days after discharge, severance has no effect at all on benefits. You can file now and begin collecting benefits and still keep a strong earnings LAG for a second year claim if you decide to work a bit this year while collecting severance.

      If severance begins within 30 days of discharge, then NY delays benefit payments until severance is exhausted. If you file when severance is exhausted in Jan 2018, your base period would be October 1, 2016-September 2017 – which is not enough quarters of wages to qualify in NY. In NY, you need two quarters of wages for a claim.

      Therefore, in order to achieve the best possible base period and STILL have enough time to collect the full 26 week’s allotment, file for benefits after July 2017 and before September 30, 2017. Your base period will be April 2016-Mar. 2017 earnings, your benefit year, depending on when you file, will expire anytime between July-September 2018, which will leave you nine months (Jan-Sept. 2018) to collect 26 weeks’ benefits.

      NY will calculate your benefit using the average of your two highest quarters in that base period divided by 26, not to exceed $430. You can begin collecting benefits when the severance is exhausted in Jan. 2018.

      SS has no effect on benefits at any time.

  • Cheikh

    Hi i have been working for a moving company for six months only. Do I qualify for unemployment benefits in nys?

  • Michael

    I have been working for a non profit for 10 months within their fundraising division and i’m on the verge of losing my job for failure to meet my daily targets. i wasn’t far off but it’s very strict. am i eligible for benefits?

    • Yes, apply for benefits when you are discharged. Failure to meet an assigned goal/poor performance is not disqualifying unless your employer can prove you intentionally underperformed.

      NY does a very good job of vetting a claim and, unlike most states, investigates carefully employer’s allegations before making a decision. You should be approved without an issue.

  • Mary

    Can I work part-time at the job I was laid off from and still collect unemployment?

    • Yes, you can work for them. But, know that for each day or PART of a day – even as little as one hour – NY will reduce your weekly benefit by 25%. So, don’t be taking a job for a couple of hours a day over a period of four days, or your benefit will be nonexistent. Let’s say your weekly benefit is $280. Divide that by 4. NY pays you $90 a day. If you work part-time for less than $90 per day, you are losing money – because NY will not pay you for that day’s work.

  • Sharon

    I was terminated from a position I held for 12 years due to a budget cut on December 16th. I was presented with an agreement and general release which indicated that I had 21 days to sign it. Afterwards I would then receive my termination letter, letter of recommendation, and personal documents left behind. This agreement states also that upon signing it I would receive severence pay for 6 weeks payable bi weekly in 3 checks. When do I sign up for unemployment. I understand that I can’t receive anything until severence is paid out. Do I wait to the end of their 6 weeks? I am fearful that if I apply I wouldnt get the recommendation etc. promised to me. PLEASE ADVISE ME. Thank you

    • You can apply anytime before the end of March without an effect on your benefits. It is not necessary to apply immediately. Wait until you feel comfortable. Know that NY will not be in a position to pay you for at least three-four weeks after application, so plan accordingly.

  • Stephen white

    Hello I have been working for a company since February but they have not called me since before thanksgiving. When I call they say that there is no work for me right now.. I would like to add that I work part time as a home health aid. The director let me know that they do not have enough work for men only women. Would I be able to collect I am still on the books as a employee just one with no income. Thanks for your help. I live I new york

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