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New York State Department of Labor

Governor Cuomo Announces Benefit Rate Increase for Unemployment Insurance Claimants

Maximum and Minimum Weekly Benefit Rates will Increase on October 6

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Albany, NY (September 17, 2014) -

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that, as of a result of the Governor’s Unemployment Insurance reforms, the maximum and minimum rates for weekly Unemployment Insurance benefits will increase on October 6, 2014. The minimum rate will increase from $64 to $100 and the maximum rate will increase from $405 to $420.

“This state’s Unemployment Insurance system has been broken for far too long – starving deserving New Yorkers of sufficient benefits and saddling businesses with billions of dollars of debt,” Governor Cuomo said. “The rate increase resulted from our reforms that provide a boost to job-seeking New Yorkers and grant relief to businesses so they can focus on job creation and growth.”

State Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera said, “This legislation was created as a forward-thinking, permanent solution to benefit both employers and claimants. Unemployment Insurance Reform provides for a self-correcting financing system ensuring more predictable and equitable costs for businesses and benefits claimants by raising benefit rates and helping them get back to work sooner.”

For years, the State’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which pays benefits, did not have enough funds to pay for claims filed by unemployed workers. As a result, the State was forced to borrow funds from the Federal government to cover the difference and employers were burdened with paying back a $3.5 billion debt with interest. In March 2013, Governor Cuomo signed into law a major reform to the Unemployment Insurance System in New York State, which included paying off the debt to the Federal government sooner, increasing fraud prevention measures and penalties, and making sure there is enough money to pay claimant benefits and increase weekly benefits for the first time in 14 years.

Since Governor Cuomo’s measures have been implemented, the Trust Fund debt has already been cut in half and the legislation is estimated to save businesses $400 million. The measure that accelerates the payment of debt will ultimately help stabilize the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, making it more sustainable and predictable. As the Trust Fund balance increases, contribution rates for employers will decrease.

A claimant’s weekly benefit rate is determined by a formula that takes into account what that person earned from recent employers. After they file a claim, they are notified of their rate by a Monetary Benefit Determination. Claimants eligible to receive the benefit increase will receive a separate notice from the Department of Labor. Under Unemployment Insurance reform, the maximum benefit rate for claimants will increase annually until it reaches 50 percent of the average weekly wage in New York State. The minimum will remain at $100.

For more information about how benefit rates are calculated, please see the FAQs at www.labor.ny.gov/BenefitRateFAQ and the claimant handbook online: www.labor.ny.gov/UIhandbook.

For more information about Unemployment Insurance reform and a comprehensive list of additional changes, visit: www.labor.ny.gov.

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