Coronavirus Updates (April 9): After Weeks of Crashes, New York Reboots Unemployment Website

New York State’s unemployment website was set to be rebooted Thursday evening in a new partnership with Google that the state intends to use to streamline the unemployment process.

The State Department of Labor website will be revamped Thursday evening, after which it will be relaunched with a shorter form at 7:30 a.m. Friday. The new form will not require applicants to make a follow-up phone call in to the state labor department.

“It’s streamlined, there are fewer questions and once you get to the end of that, you successfully fill it out, it’s going to say ‘You are finished with the application process,’” said Governor Andrew Cuomo’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa at Mr. Cuomo’s Thursday morning press briefing. “If there is any information that is left blank, it is going to say ‘Don’t call us, we will call you within 72 hours.’”

The state unemployment website has crashed numerous times in the past several weeks, and residents have waited for hours or gotten a message asking them to call back later when they call in to provide more details about their claim.

According to the Department of Labor, “if you have been instructed to call our telephone claims center to complete filing your claim, you no longer have to call. A representative form the NYS DOL will call you back within 72 hours.”

Self-employed New Yorkers are also eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. More information on eligibility and who can apply is online here, and here is more information on Thursday’s changes to the filing system.

Ms. DeRosa said the state had received 350,000 unemployment claims in the past week, and has received 810,000 new applications since the governor ordered non-essential businesses to close in mid-March. Ms. DeRosa said 600,000 of those claims have been processed.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that 6.6 million people had filed unemployment claims in the past week.

Mr. Cuomo said the state now has 1,000 employees at the Department of Labor working on unemployment claims.

The state has also extended the period that people can get unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks.

The Internal Revenue Service is also expected to begin direct deposit of its $1,200 economic stimulus checks today. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says most Americans who either received Social Security benefits or filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 and provided direct deposit information at that time will receive their stimulus check by April 17.

These checks will be for $1,200 for single filers earning up to $75,000 per year, decreasing by $5 for every $100 above that number until they are phased out at an income of $99,000.

Heads of household incomes up to $112,500 and joint filers who make up to $150,000 will receive the full amount.

The IRS says paper checks for residents who do not have direct deposit information on file with the IRS will be mailed after April 24, beginning with the lowest wage earners. This process is expected to be quite lengthy, with residents who make less than $10,000 per year receiving checks the first week, and checks for the highest eligible wage earners (married couples earning $198,000 per year) going out in early September.

More details are online here.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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