By Paige Piazza and Rachel Feingold
Here is What You Need to Know About Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Enhanced Unemployment Insurance in New York

Due to new laws in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic, individuals who were not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance in the past, such as independent contractors, freelancers, and those who are self-employed, may now qualify under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) which was signed into law on March 27, 2020.  The CARES Act provides for both enhanced unemployment insurance for those who are already eligible for unemployment, as well as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for those affected by the coronavirus.  Both enhanced unemployment insurance as well as PUA allow qualified individuals to collect a total of 39 weeks of benefits and an additional $600 per week until July 31, 2020.  You may qualify for PUA benefits under the following circumstances:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 symptoms and are currently seeking a diagnosis
  • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You are a primary caregiver for a child unable to attend school or another facility closed due to COVID-19
  • You were scheduled to commence new employment and cannot reach your workplace as a direct result of COVID-19
  • You are now the major breadwinner because the head of your household passed away from COVID-19
  • You quit job your job as a direct result of COVID-19 (eligibility may vary)
  • Your place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19
  • You are: self-employed/ independent contractor/1099 filer/farmer and affected by COVID-19
  • You are seeking part-time employment but affected by COVID-19
  • You have insufficient work history and are affected by COVID-19
  • You are otherwise not qualified for regular or extended Unemployment Insurance benefits and are affected by COVID-19

In response to the high call volume from new unemployment insurance applicants, the New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL) has created a new online platform for claimants to file for unemployment. If you are a new claimant either applying for traditional unemployment or PUA, you may now apply online at  If you do not have access to a computer, you may also call 1-888-209-8124.  If you require extra assistance, the NYDOL will give you a call back to file a claim.

If you have already exhausted your 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, you may also follow these same instructions.  Lastly, if you are currently receiving unemployment, but want to receive extended unemployment, do nothing except continue to certify weekly and your benefits will automatically be updated. 

There are many documents required to file for unemployment benefits, and the full list of required documents can be found on the New York Department of Labor website. If you file a claim without submitting all of the required documentation, you will likely experience a delay in the first payment of unemployment benefits. Once a claim is filed, you will be notified of your  Monetary Benefit Determination and if you qualify for benefits.  Depending on how the claim in filed, you will receive benefits through either direct deposit or debit card. For more information visit

For more information about applying for traditional unemployment, as well as extended unemployment visit

 If you have additional questions, or want to consult with an attorney, you may contact Virginia & Ambinder, LLP at 212-943-9080.