With literally millions of people in the US out of work as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns, a massive number of people who have never even thought about filing for unemployment benefits before are finding themselves needing to learn how to do so, in a hurry.
The process for applying for unemployment varies from state to state, so it’s important to understand the information below, which is drawn from information originally published by The Model Alliance, is specific to New York – which the Alliance chose to focus on, along with California and Florida, because those are the three states in which most of the models in their community reside.
Before going further, a quick disclaimer:
The information below should not be construed as legal advice and is not a substitute for consulting with your attorney and other advisors. This post is provided for informational purposes only. Should you decide to file an unemployment claim, please seek information that is specific to your circumstances and state of residence and act on the advice of your own attorney, who can address questions specific to your situation.
Okay, with the above said, let’s continue to look at the process for filing a claim in New York, where models are considered employees rather than independent contractors. There are two options for filing for unemployment insurance in the state, as it can be done over the phone, or online.
Filing by Phone
Before you go to file, make sure you have the following information handy: your social security number, driver’s license number, bank account information and your contact information. You will also need information on any employers for whom you’ve worked in the last 18 months including your employer’s contact information, their federal employer identification number (“FEIN”) or your most recent employer’s New York State Employer Registration Number, your gross earnings (meaning, pre-tax) and, if you’ve served in the military, your separation papers.
To file by phone in New York, call the Telephone Claim Center for the New York Department of Labor at 1-888-209-8124. First though, determine which day of the week you should call, as applicants are asked to file on the day of the week which corresponds to the first letter of their last name.
If your name begins with letter A-F, Monday is the day to call. For G-N, it’s Tuesday, while the rest of the alphabet falls on Wednesday. (If you miss your designated call-in day for that week, you can call Thursday or Friday to file your claim.) The office is open Monday through Thursday, 8am – 7:30pm, Friday 8am – 6pm and Saturday 7:30am – 8pm EST.
Once you have assembled the information, you need and figured out which day and time to call, you’re set to start the process. When you call in, a representative of the Claim Center will walk you through the initial application steps, along the way requesting the information specified above. At the start of the call, you will also be asked to create a personal identification number (“PIN”) – be sure to save that number and keep it handy, as you will need any time you call the Claim Center.
Important: Remember that if the Claim Center representative asks if you are an employee, be sure to answer yes!
Signing up Online
If you choose to file your claim online, you needn’t worry about which day you file. Unlike filing by phone, you can file online any day of the week, regardless of your last name. Since so many applicants are filing right now, tying up the representatives available to field incoming calls, applying online is also likely to be faster.
To apply online, first go to https://applications.labor.ny.gov/IndividualReg/. If you already have an account, you can log in using your existing username and password in the form provided. If you are an incorporated model, however, do not log in with your business account information, because you must sign up as an individual employee.
If you don’t have an account, you can create one by clicking the “Create NY.gov Account” link. If you’re an incorporated model, be sure to establish a new account as an individual employee, which is separate from your business account.
Once you’ve logged in, go to the “Unemployment Services” page. In the lower righthand portion of the page, click “Unemployment Services.” This will direct you to a page where you’ll be prompted to input your social security number (“SSN”). After you submit your SSN, you will be delivered to the “Unemployment Insurance Claimant Information Page,” where you will need to create a PIN, provide your mother’s maiden name and check off the “I’m not a robot” box to satisfy the captcha test on that page.
After completing the step above, you’ll arrive on the “Unemployment Insurance Benefits Online” page, which has a link labeled “File A Claim.” Click that link and fill out the form which displays next.
There’s more to the process than what is described above – and again, this post is merely intended to give you an idea of what you’re up against, once you’ve decided to file an unemployment claim. To read the full Model Alliance guide to filing for unemployment benefits, click here.
And again, I can’t stress enough that this information is specific to the process in the state of New York, the requirements and process for your state is likely to differ in significant ways.
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The number one reason New Yorkers’ applications are incomplete is because they are missing Federal Employer Identification Numbers (FEIN). If you have submitted an application for unemployment without your FEIN, a representative WILL call you to finish your claim. If you have not yet filed, be sure to include your employer's FEIN, NYS Employer Registration Number and full name/address on your application. . NOTE: Businesses are legally obligated to provide employees with their FEIN, NYS Employer Registration Number, and full name/address. This week, we sent a directive to 320,000 businesses reminding them of this, so we can get New Yorkers their benefits faster.
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