Unemployment (UI) and Loan Forbearance

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

Resource Guide on Applying for Unemployment Insurance in NY Amid COVID-19 (updated 5-19-20)

Unemployment 101 for 802 Musicians Webinar: Watch the recording of an online unemployment webinar for 802 musicians that took place on Monday, May 4, 2020. Judy Conti, government affairs director of the National Employment Law Project, provided an overview of the types of unemployment benefits that are available for those out of work or with less work during this crisis and answered 802 musicians’ questions. Access Password: 8K@+#7#%

Music Covid Relief: This resource, put together by partners across the music and entertainment community, was designed to help music professionals access information and applications to receive benefits made available by the CARES Act (Phase III of the Coronavirus Stimulus bill signed into law March 27, 2020.) Read more here.

How Do I Apply for Unemployment?

The below information can also be found on the AFM website.

Unemployment Information

Recent federal legislation gives jobless musicians and other working people larger unemployment benefits over a longer period of time—including those who rely on contract work, freelance jobs, and others who have traditionally been excluded from unemployment insurance. For the first time, 1099 workers are able to receive unemployment benefits!

You can now claim unemployment benefits for an extended period of time (up to four months) and the typical one-week waiting period to start receiving benefits is now waived. Weekly unemployment benefit amounts are increased by $600.

2020 Recovery Rebates

Besides unemployment benefits, musicians may be eligible to receive one-time cash benefit to households of $1,200 per adult ($2,400 per couple) and $500 per child. People earning $75,000 ($150,000 jointly) or less will receive the full amount. This phases-out for people earning more than $99,000 ($198,000 jointly) with no children. People with no federal tax liability will receive only $600. It is currently anticipated that funds will be sent within the next three weeks. You do not apply for this benefit.

Q: Which Unemployment Benefits Do I Qualify For?

Flow chart courtesy of DPE, AFL-CIO.

Q: What Do I Need To File For Benefits?

Each state sets its own unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility guidelines, but you will usually need certain information including:

  • Addresses & dates of all your former jobs
  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license or state issued ID card number (if you have one)

Q: Where Do I File For Benefits?

  • Federal funds will be distributed to state unemployment agencies, and all benefits are administered through your state.
  • To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you need to generally file a claim in the state where you worked. Info on New York State unemployment listed below.
  • If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states. Worked outside New York too? Click here for state-by-state resources.

More Unemployment Resources

Applying For Unemployment Benefits In New York

Updated after the CARES Act passed 3/27/20

The following info is also available on the NYS Department of Labor site here.

The Federal CARES Act was signed into law March 27, 2020. The Act provides enhanced Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for New Yorkers. Here’s what you need to know.

If You Are Already Approved for UI Benefits

  • Do nothing except continue to certify weekly. Your benefits will be updated automatically.
    (Please do not call; it will only make it difficult for others to reach an agent.)

What you may qualify to receive:

  • 39 weeks of UI benefits.
  • An additional $600/week until 7/31/2020.
    (Payments begin 4/5/2020)

If You Are Filing a New UI Claim

What you may qualify to receive:

  • 39 weeks of UI benefits.
  • An additional $600/week until 7/31/2020.
    (Payments begin 4/5/2020)

If You Are Not Traditionally Eligible for UI Benefits

What you may qualify to receive:

  • 39 weeks of PUA benefits.
  • An additional $600/week until 7/31/2020.
    (Payments begin 4/5/2020)

If You’ve Exhausted 26 Weeks of Benefits After 7/1/2020

What you should do:

What you may qualify to receive:

  • 13 weeks of benefits.
  • An additional $600/week until 7/31/2020.
    (Payments begin 4/5/2020)

More Information from the NYS Department of Labor

See Frequently Asked Questions About UI During the Coronavirus Emergency

If you are self-employed, you may now file for Unemployment Insurance benefits online. See the Guidance for Self-Employed Individuals.

Here is a step-by-step process to enter online services to file a claim.

To apply for UI benefits, file on these days: Filing for UI benefits is based on your last name.
A – F file on Monday | G – N file on Tuesday | O – Z file on Wednesday
Missed your day? File on Thurs-Fri-Sat

Basic Info on Applying for Unemployment in NY (updated pre-CARES Act)

The best option for the moment is for W2 employees to immediately apply for unemployment compensation. Here is a little detail on the filing procedure in New York State. Individuals employed in other states will have to consult the individual law in the states that they work within. In New York, every employer you work for deducts from your wages premiums that are paid into the NYS unemployment insurance program.

You do not need to be employed by one employer during this period of time to meet the eligibility requirements. Wages are amalgamated from each of the employers you have worked for during the eligibility period.

There are three factors to determine whether you will be eligible for benefits:

1. You must have worked for at least 2 calendar quarters (six months) in a year. This needn’t be consecutive, but an employee must demonstrate that they worked during at least two three-month periods during the last year.

2. You must have been paid at least $2600.00 in one calendar quarter.

3. Your total payment over the year must be one and a half times the amount you earned in the highest paying quarter during the year. Thus if you made $2,600.00 during your highest paid quarter your total yearly income must be $3,900.00

If you have any doubts whether or not you qualify, you should file anyway. Your employers have already contributed on your behalf and the NYS Department of Labor will know your contribution levels. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Further, you must specify the reason for the loss of employment. Employee misconduct, etc. is not a proper basis to request UI. Loss of work due to COVID-19 is a legitimate ground and is a justifiable basis to apply for UI. Place that reason upon your UI application.

The filing should be made against the last employer for whom you worked but understand that each of your previous employers during the last calendar year have contributed proportionally on your behalf.

Normally there is a 7-day waiting period to commence receiving benefits; however due to COVID-19, New York State has waived that period. This means file NOW!

Finally, if you are in a situation where you are unsure whether there will be a payment from an employer at this time, we encourage you to file for unemployment benefits immediately. In that case when filing for unemployment benefits you may appropriately respond that there is no severance or other post-employment compensation. However, please note that if you do obtain some payment from an employer for this period then you may be required to re-pay your unemployment benefits for just those weeks.

Website to submit your application

You must create an ID and password through the NYS DOL website, but it is a much better process than waiting on line, which we can all appreciate is not a wise idea.

Independent contractors and those who are paid in cash are not eligible for UI. If you fall into that category the ERF may be an option or contact the DOL and see if other relief is available (see above).

Finally, UI benefits last 26 weeks and are available up to $504.00 per week. Part time and seasonal employees can still qualify but will receive proportionally less than the maximum benefit.

To continue to qualify for UI, you must certify that you are ready, willing, and able to work and are actively looking for work – which of course every professional musician is.

U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program

Breaking News: Government May Give You Up To $10 Million To Keep Your Business Or Nonprofit Going

Act now: New program with $350 billion available on first-come, first-served basis. Applications open Friday, April 3

What is it?

New, U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program

Two-year loans at 0.5% interest that you may not have to pay back

Who’s Eligible?

Businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees

How Do You Get It?

Ask your business’s bank if they offer the federal SBA Paycheck Protection Program

If your bank offers the program: They will walk you through the application process

If your bank does not offer the program: Visit this with a list of traditional SBA banks:

Additional Information

Visit the federal government’s information page on the program:

There are Small Business Centers to help you at