New York and New Jersey have modified the unemployment insurance claim process in order to speed up access to benefits for workers laid off as a result of the Coronavirus public health emergency. Under normal circumstances, New York requires unemployment insurance claimants to wait seven days after losing their jobs before they can claim for benefits. Because of the emergency, New York has waived the seven-day requirement. Instead, claimants can now file for benefits based on the first letter of their last name. If your last name starts with A-F, then the day to file is the Monday after you lose your job. If it starts with G-N, file on Tuesday. If O-Z, Wednesday. In case you missed your filing day, then file on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.

In New Jersey, claimants can now file for benefits at different times of day, based on their social security numbers. Detailed information about the process is here.

In case you are still employed, but your employer has cut your working hours and total pay, you may be eligible for partial benefits. In New York, partial benefits are available for employees who work four days per week or less and earn no more than $504 per week. Information about partial benefits and other unemployment insurance benefits for New Yorkers is available here. Make sure to also be advised of special rules  in case you are a teacher or government employee.

In New Jersey, partial benefits may be available if you work no more than 80% of what is the norm in your occupation. More detailed information about partial benefits and other rules for unemployment insurance in New Jersey is available here.

The Families First Coronavirus Federal Assistance Act passed last week allocates $1 billion in federal emergency grants to help states pay benefits to workers who have lost jobs due to the outbreak. The law also requires that states meet certain benchmarks before they become eligible for grants. States must show an increase in unemployment claims of 10% or more from the same quarter in the previous year and also fulfill a number of procedural requirements.

The New York Department of Labor (DOL) has announced on its website that New York has not yet qualified for federal grants under this new law. But, DOL has assured New Yorkers that they will not be required to do anything that they are not already required to do when and if the state qualifies for expanded benefits under the federal law.

March 31, 2020 update:

New York has now advised that the $600 additional benefit under the subsequent CARES Act will take effect on April 5, 2020.