How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits and Help If You Need It

We have spoken to the Workers Defense League, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping workers with unemployment claims. They've agreed to help our members who have questions about how to complete the on-line unemployment application.

New York State has waived the seven-day waiting period for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines. If you've worked at all since the beginning of 2019 and have not applied for unemployment benefits yet you should do so now. It's better to apply and let the Department of Labor determine your eligibility.  You can apply for benefits here. Click "File a Claim>File Now" on the left-hand side. When you reach the question "Why did you stop working at your last job?" you should choose the "lack of work" option.


The Department of Labor has had trouble processing the number of claims being filed. In response they put out the guidelines below about when people should file, based on the first letter of your last name. If you can't get into the system, keep trying. If you are in the system, and have questions about how to complete the form, you can call the Workers Defense League at 212-627-1931 and leave a message with your phone number. They will call you back.

When to file

If you are filing a new unemployment insurance claim, the day you should file is based on the first letter of your last name. If your last name starts with A - F, file your claim on Monday. For last names starting with G - N, file your claim on Tuesday. For last names starting with O - Z, file your claim on Wednesday. If you missed your filing day, file your claim on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Filing later in the week will not delay your payments or affect the date of your claim, since all claims are effective on the Monday of the week in which they are filed.

Things you need to file your claim

Your Social Security number
Your driver license or Motor Vehicle ID card number (if you have either one)
Your complete mailing address and zip code
A phone number where we can reach you from 8 am - 5 pm, Monday –Friday
Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. Citizen and have a card)
Names and addresses of all your employers for the last 18 months, including those in other states.
Employer Registration number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your most recent employer (FEIN is on your W-2 forms)
You can file a claim without all of these documents. However, missing information can delay your first payment.
If you cannot print web pages, have a pen and paper to copy information.

If you choose direct deposit of your weekly benefits, you need a check that has your bank routing and checking account numbers.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on New York City's workforce, the City  has developed a list of resources for those who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 or are seeking additional assistance. Click here for the NYC Resource page for unemployed workers.

Stay strong, stay safe.