Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in New York?
You qualify for unemployment benefits in New York if you meet two basic requirements:
- you must have earned at least a minimum amount in the time before you lost your job, and
- you must be out of work through no fault of your own.
If you meet these two qualifications when you apply, you will likely be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. (To keep receiving benefits after you are found eligible, you will also have to meet your state’s job search requirements; to learn more, see What Do I Have to Do to Keep Receiving Unemployment Benefits in New York?)
Eligibility Requirement 1: Minimum Earnings
In every state, unemployment benefits are available only to those who are temporarily out of work. If you apply after being out of the workforce for years, for example, you won’t qualify for benefits. You must have been employed relatively recently, and earned at least a minimum amount, to be eligible.
States look at an applicant’s work history during a stretch of time called the “base period.”
In New York, the base period is the first four of the five complete calendar quarters immediately before you filed for benefits. For example, if you file for benefits on July 10, 2015, your base period will be from April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015. It would not include the most recent complete calendar quarter before you filed (April 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015) or the first ten days of July 2015.
Some states require only that you earn a minimum amount of money during the base period; other states require, either in addition or instead, that you have done some work in more than one quarter of the base period.
To qualify for benefits in New York, you must meet these requirements:
- You must have worked and been paid wages in at least two of the four quarters of the base period.
- You must have earned a minimum amount during the highest paid quarter of the base period. Starting in 2015, that amount is $1,900.
- Your total earnings in the base period must be at least one-and-a-half times your earnings in the highest paid quarter. However, if you earned more than $9,350 in your highest paid quarter, you will qualify if you earned at least $4,675 in the rest of the base period.
If you did not earn enough to qualify for benefits during the regular base period, you may be able to use an alternate base period that counts more recent earnings. In New York, the alternate base period is the last four complete calendar quarters before you file for benefits.
Eligibility Requirement 2: Reasons for Unemployment
To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. If you lose your job in a layoff, reduction-in-force (RIF), downsizing, or similar job action in which positions are cut for financial or strategic reasons, you will be eligible for benefits.
However, you don’t have to be laid off to collect unemployment. You may still be eligible even if you quit your job or you were fired, depending on the circumstances.
If You Quit Your Job
In New York, you may be disqualified from receiving benefits if you quit your job without good cause.
In some states, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits for a certain number of weeks. In other states, you may be disqualified until you get another job and earn a minimum amount (typically, this amount is less than you would have to earn to qualify for benefits in the first place). Contact the New York Department of Labor: Unemployment Division for more information.
If You Were Fired
You will be disqualified from receiving benefits if you were fired for misconduct or for committing a criminal act. In New York, misconduct can include any act that you knew was not allowed on the job and that caused your employer harm.
You may be disqualified either for a set number of weeks or until you get another job and earn a minimum amount, depending on state law. In some states, the length of the disqualification period depends on why you were fired. Contact the New York Department of Labor: Unemployment Division to find out more.
You may also be interested in:
Find out where you need to go to apply for unemployment benefits in New York and how to get help with the application process.
Learn the four requirements for continuing to receive unemployment benefits in New York and how and where to apply for weekly unemployment benefits.
Find out how and when to consider hiring a lawyer to help with your unemployment claim.