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Self-Employment Assistance Program: Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

  • What is the Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP)?

    The SEAP gives you the opportunity to start your own business. If accepted into the SEAP, you will work full-time on establishing your own business while receiving weekly Unemployment Insurance benefits, even if your business is making money. You will not have to look for other work. However, you must receive a written SEAP approval letter before you can start or operate your own business, and you must have 20 hours of entrepreneurial training and two face-to-face meetings with a business counselor to complete the program.

    The SEAP does not pay for books, tuition or school-related fees, and it does not extend the number of weeks that you can collect unemployment benefits. Therefore, you are responsible for any financial planning needed to complete the program.

  • Does the SEAP provide start-up funding for my business?

    No, the SEAP does not provide start-up funding for your business. However, if accepted into the SEAP, you will work full-time on establishing your own business while receiving weekly Unemployment Insurance benefits, even if your business is making money.

  • What are the minimum requirements to be eligible for the SEAP?

    To be eligible for the SEAP, you must be:

    • At least 18 years old;
    • Identified by the state's profiling system as being likely to exhaust regular Unemployment Insurance benefits;
    • Eligible for at least 13 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits when the application for the SEAP is received, and;
    • Willing to work full-time in establishing a business that is located in New York State.

    In addition, you must complete a SEAP orientation and have an acceptable business idea before you apply for the SEAP.

Profile Score

  • How is the profile score determined?

    The profile score (between 0 and 100) is based on labor market information and other specific elements gathered during the initial claim process. When all of this information is combined and weighted to the local economy, the result determines your profile score.

    The profile score is determined by:

    • The number of years you were on the job with your last employer;
    • The county where you live;
    • The number of effective days claimed on your last Unemployment Insurance claim, within the three-year period prior to your current claim effective date, and;
    • The industry in which you received the most earnings in your recent work.

Other Requirements for Eligibility

SEAP Regional Coordinators

Acceptance into the SEAP

Benchmark Forms

  • What are benchmark forms?

    These are forms you need to fill out and submit while you are in the SEAP. They will be used to monitor your completion of the program. The due dates for all forms will be given to you when you are approved. The benchmark forms are:

    You can get the benchmark forms on the forms and publications page for Unemployment Insurance claimants at www.labor.ny.gov. On the main menu, select “Other Information,” then select “Forms & Publications,” and you will find the link to “Unemployment Insurance (Claimants).”

    It is easy to submit your benchmark forms online. Log in to your NY.gov account, select “Messages,” and then “Compose New.” Use “SEAP” as the first subject line and “Submit SEAP Benchmark Forms” as the second subject line of your message. Then attach your forms to your message.

    We encourage you to create an NY.gov account if you have not done so already. It is convenient and secure, and it also results in faster benefit payments.

  • What happens if I submit my benchmark forms late or the forms are incomplete?

    If the form is late, the SEAP benefits will not be paid from the date the form was due through the date it is received and accepted as complete. This means late forms will result in a suspension of your weekly benefits. You will not receive suspended weeks in a lump-sum payment. You will only receive benefits from the date the form is received and accepted as complete.

Business Counselor and Training

  • Where do I find a business counselor?

    You can contact local organizations such as the Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) to find a business counselor. These organizations provide free, one-on-one counseling to individuals interested in starting a business. You can also use a qualified expert in the type of business you intend to start. The Department of Labor does not provide business counselors. See our Resources for Entrepreneurs for a list of organizations that can help.

  • Where can I find 20 hours of entrepreneurial training?

    See our Resources for Entrepreneurs for a list of organizations that can help, including: Small Business Administration; SCORE; Small Business Development Center; Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers; or the Women’s Business Centers.

    Other sources of training are: New York City Business Solutions; The Office of Entrepreneurial Education; local chambers of commerce; libraries; community colleges; or your local SEAP coordinator.

    Consider training topics related to: business planning and operations; marketing; accounting and finance; business licensing, etc. You may use any provider that offers entrepreneurial training.

  • Can I take online classes?

    Yes, you can take online classes. However, the in-person classes or workshops also offer you networking opportunities. While we recommend in-person classes or workshops for this reason, it may not be feasible in all situations.

    Before you choose a class, you should check to make sure that the course offers a certificate of completion, or that someone can sign your Individual Services Verification Form.

  • Do I need an instructor’s signature on the Individual Service Verification Forms?

    No, you may submit a certificate of completion. This certificate must include the school or agency, the class title, the date you took the class and the number of hours it took you to complete the class. If you cannot get a certificate of completion, and your business counselor can verify you took the class, your business counselor can sign the form.

Receipt of SEAP Benefits

  • How many weeks of benefits can I get while I am in the SEAP program?

    You are only entitled to a maximum of 26 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits. This includes any weeks you collected before you were accepted into the SEAP. For example, if you start the SEAP in the fourth week of your Unemployment Insurance claim, then you will have 22 weeks of the SEAP benefits remaining. As a SEAP participant, you are not entitled to any extra or extended benefits.

  • How do I certify for my weekly benefits?

    You can claim weekly benefits:

    • On the web with an NY.gov ID from 7:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday (Eastern Standard Time), all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Directions for creating an NY.gov ID are on our website at http://www.labor.ny.gov/signin.
    • By mail using a SEAP certification form, available on the Forms and Publications page for Unemployment Insurance. If you don't fill out the forms completely and sign them, they won't be accepted. The forms can be mailed to: New York State Department of Labor, PO Box 1979, Albany, NY 12201.

    As a participant in the SEAP, you can no longer claim weekly benefits by telephone. When you claim benefits, you must answer questions to certify you were ready, willing and able to work on the business you indicated on your SEAP application.

    We recommend that you claim benefits online. It is convenient and secure, and it also results in faster benefit payments!

  • Can I accept other employment regardless of number of hours worked while in the program?

    Yes. However, your SEAP benefits may be affected by other employment:

    • If you work part-time for another employer, you may receive partial benefits when you work less than four days in a week and earn less than the maximum benefit rate. Your weekly SEAP benefits will be reduced by one-quarter for each day you work, up to three days.
    • If you work full-time for another employer, you will no longer be eligible for the SEAP benefits.

    If your work for another employer ends during your benefit year, you may resume your SEAP benefits by contacting the Department of Labor Special Programs Unit at (518) 485-1597. Or, you may resume your Unemployment Insurance benefits by submitting a Withdrawal Form to end your participation in the SEAP.

SEAP Withdrawal

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