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Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP)

various businesspeople at work

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business? Do you receive Unemployment Insurance benefits?

With the Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP), you can collect the Unemployment Insurance benefits you need to pay your bills while you work on that dream!

  • You can work full-time on your new business while collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits
  • You don't have to look for jobs while you work on your business
  • Money earned from your business is not deducted from your Unemployment Insurance benefits
  • You stay on track for success with training and counseling
  • You get opportunities to build a network of support to launch your business

You must receive a written acceptance into the SEAP before you can start your own business while collecting benefits.

You can succeed with the SEAP!

Elena Carey

"It's very liberating to be my own boss. The only way to start my business was with Unemployment Insurance standing behind me. It's wonderful that New York State wants people to succeed at their own businesses and create jobs for other people once their businesses grow." — Elena Carey, Folkloric
See a video about Elena

Mina Marsow

"I always dreamed of opening up my business. Now, I have three part-time people. It makes a bigger impact on the community, as everybody needs a job. The SEAP helped with benchmarks and let me focus on my business."— Mina Marsow, Prospect Gymnastics
See a video about Mina

Timothy Giordiani

"I was directed by the SEAP to SCORE, where I found a business mentor. He took this mess of ideas and helped me create a 501(c)-3. Without that help, it couldn't have happened."— Timothy Giordiani, Hope 607 Project
See a video about Timothy

Who can apply?

You can apply to Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP) if you are:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Eligible to receive at least 13 or more additional weeks of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits
  • The recipient of an invitation letter from the New York State Department of Labor, or categorized as a dislocated worker (determined via a profile score)
  • New to the SEAP program (not approved for the SEAP in the past)

For SEAP approval, your proposed business must also meet five basic criteria. You must be:

  • Locating your proposed business in New York State
  • Willing to work full-time to launch your business
  • Planning to be an active owner of your business and not a silent partner in a business partnership
  • A first-time business owner and operator of the proposed type of business. You cannot have previously owned or operated a business of similar nature.
  • Prepared with a clear business idea

For more information about program eligibility, see our Eligibility for the Self-Employment Assistance Program fact sheet and review the Frequently Asked Questions.

How to apply

You must watch the SEAP orientation videos (below) before you apply to the SEAP. After you have completed the orientation videos, log in to your NY.gov account and click on the "Self-Employment Assistance Program" link under "Employment Services."

See the SEAP log in instructions.

Things to consider

You must watch the SEAP orientation videos (below) before you apply to the SEAP. Before you do complete the video orientation, here are some things about the SEAP to consider:

  • SEAP requires that you have enough time available to complete all necessary forms and training. Therefore, you must be eligible for at least 13 more weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits to participate in the SEAP at the time that you are accepted into the program.
  • You must decide exactly what type of business you want to start before you apply to the SEAP. The program does not allow time to explore business ideas -- only to develop an existing idea.
  • The SEAP requires you to take at least 20 hours of entrepreneurial training. Contact local organizations such as the Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE), the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or the Small Business Administration (SBA) to locate entrepreneurial workshops in your area. More information about these organizations will be provided during the SEAP orientation.
  • You must find and meet with a business counselor of your choice at least twice and submit benchmark forms to the Department of Labor to show the progress of your start-up activities. You can contact local organizations such as the Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) 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.
  • If you are accepted into the SEAP, you will only be eligible for up to a combined total of 26 weeks of Unemployment Insurance and SEAP benefits during your benefit year.
  • Skills you already have should match those needed to operate the business type you choose.
  • The SEAP does not provide start-up funds for your business.

Start with a mandatory video orientation

You are required to complete Parts 1 and 2 of the SEAP video orientation before you apply to the program. When you apply to the SEAP, you must certify that you viewed these videos in their entirety:

  • Part 1: Learn about the SEAP, the program requirements, and SEAP eligibility.
  • Part 2: Listen to Geri Kavanah, a business counselor from the New York State Small Business Development Center, discuss the realities of opening a business.

Entrepreneurial resources

The SEAP requires you to take at least 20 hours of entrepreneurial training and have at least two meetings with a business counselor. See our Resources for Entrepreneurs for a list of organizations that can provide training and other helpful assistance as you work on your business.

Questions?

If you have any questions regarding the SEAP, please read our Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you still have questions, please call the Special Programs Unit at (518) 485-1597, or contact the SEAP coordinator for your region.

RegionCountySEAP CoordinatorEmail address
North Country Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Hamilton Meaghan Lamica SEAP.NorthCountry@labor.ny.gov
St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis Mike Doyle
Capital Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Columbia, Greene Andrea Howard SEAP.Capital@labor.ny.gov
Mid-Hudson Rockland, Putnam, Westchester Sandra Bandes SEAP.MidHudson@labor.ny.gov
Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Orange Howard Schertzer
New York City New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Bronx Makie Sanchez SEAP.NYC@labor.ny.gov
Long Island Nassau Elisa Long SEAP.LongIsland@labor.ny.gov
Suffolk Beth Chalmers
Mohawk Valley Oneida, Herkimer, Madison Stephanie Madia SEAP.MohawkValley@labor.ny.gov
Fulton, Schoharie, Montgomery Darlene Slater
Southern Tier Delaware, Chenango, Broome, Tioga, Tompkins, Schuyler, Chemung, Otsego, Steuben Greg Nagle SEAP.SouthernTier@labor.ny.gov
Central Oswego, Onondaga, Cortland, Cayuga Peter Naughton SEAP.Central@labor.ny.gov
Finger Lakes Livingston, Monroe, Wayne, Seneca, Yates, Ontario John Stracuzzi SEAP.FingerLakes@labor.ny.gov
Genesee, Wyoming, Orleans Amy Riter
Western Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany Michael Farkas SEAP.Western@labor.ny.gov

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