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NY revises process for gig workers, self-employed to get jobless benefits

The state Department of Labor has streamlined the process for New Yorkers who might be eligible for federal unemployment assistance aimed at people who can’t get benefits from the state’s program.

A new application system launched Monday eliminates the need for people seeking federal COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to first apply and be rejected for state unemployment insurance in order to qualify.

“With this new application, which aligns with updated federal policy, New Yorkers will be able to simply fill out one form to get the correct benefits,” the labor department said in a press release.

The PUA benefits made possible under the recently enacted federal stimulus law are targeted at people who work in jobs not typically covered by traditional unemployment insurance. Examples of such workers include self-employed residents, independent contractors and gig workers (such a ride-sharing drivers).

There are also circumstances brought about by COVID-19 that could qualify people for the PUA program. Those include people out of work because they have a confirmed case of COVID-19, people living with and/or providing care for a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and people who are a primary caregiver for a child unable to attend school or a day care due to COVID-19.

“I have been unemployed before myself, and I understand the pain, fear and anxiety New Yorkers are facing. The DOL’s mission is to help our neighbors through some of their toughest days, and in the last week we have made great strides in updating our systems,” state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said in the press release. “While it appears the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to stabilize — at least from the public health perspective — we know that many New Yorkers are still facing an uncertain economic future, and the Department of Labor will continue to dedicate every resource available to helping New Yorkers weather this storm.”

The new application system will determine which unemployment program — unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance — applies and then prompt filers through the process.

New Yorkers seeking to file an unemployment insurance claim should visit labor.ny.gov or call 888-209-8124.

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