New York COVID-19 Employee Financial Relief Guide

Gusto Editors

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted daily life, causing harm to the economic livelihoods of people all over the world, including New Yorkers. The Empire State and the federal government have extended multiple relief programs and resources to residents as they mitigate the immense economic consequences of the public health crisis posed by the novel coronavirus. This guide takes a closer look at some of the resources available to residents of New York State; read on to discover how you can take advantage of available programs.

Financial relief in New York

Economic Impact Payment

New Yorkers are eligible for a one-time economic impact payment from the federal government, provided for under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Most U.S. taxpayers are eligible to receive up to $1,200 per person, while married couples who file joint tax returns are eligible for up to $2,400. Also, this economic impact payment includes an additional $500 per child.

  • What’s the benefit?: A one-time Economic Impact Payment of up to $1,200 per person, plus an additional $500 per child.
  • Who is eligible?: American citizens or U.S. resident aliens who meet the following financial requirements:
    • Those who have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000, or under if filing single, $112,500 if a head of household filer, or $150,000 if married filing jointly.
    • Those with higher AGIs — single filers above $75,000 to $99,000, heads of household above $112,500 up to $136,500, and joint filers above $150,000 to $198,000 — will receive a smaller economic impact payment.
  • How to apply: There is no application required. New Yorkers will automatically receive their payment by mail or by direct deposit if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has payment information on file.
  • More information: Visit the IRS website to look up the status of your payment.

Unemployment benefits in New York

If you have lost your job or are working reduced hours due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in New York. You can receive this benefit if you meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must have worked and been paid wages in at least two calendar quarters during your “base period,” which is the earliest four of the last five complete calendar quarters prior to your unemployment claim (an alternate base period may be calculated; to understand more about how base periods are defined in NY click here).
  • Must have been paid at least $2,400 in at least one of the calendar quarters during your base period.
  • Total wages paid during base period must be one and one-half times your high quarter wages.
  • Must have lost employment through no fault of your own.
  • Must be ready to work, willing to work, and actively seeking work for every week benefits are claimed.

If you are eligible to file for unemployment insurance benefits in New York, you can apply online by following these steps:

  1. Create a user ID
  2. Log in to your user ID account
  3. Access the application for unemployment benefits
  4. Fill out the application in full
  5. Submit the application to the New York Department of Labor

If your claim is approved by the Department of Labor, you will receive weekly benefits through direct deposit into your bank account or a prepaid debit card. Your weekly benefit payment is determined by your high calendar quarter wages. The current maximum weekly benefit is $504.

In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the federal government implemented an additional $600 in weekly payments on top of recipients’ current unemployment insurance benefits. The additional funding is automatically paid by the state and funded by the federal government. While recipients do not need to take any action to receive the additional benefits, it may come as a separate payment from their usual weekly benefits. 

  • What’s the benefit?: Weekly unemployment benefits payments of up to $504, plus an additional $600 due to COVID-19.
  • Who is eligible?: New York workers who meet unemployment eligibility benefits.
  • How to apply: File a claim with the New York State Department of Labor

Healthcare relief in New York

COVID-19 testing and insurance

New York State, with approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), authorized 28 public and private laboratories to test for the novel coronavirus. 

To pre-register for testing, use this online screening tool to describe your symptoms. Testing at one of the state’s drive-through sampling sites is available by appointment online. Symptomatic patients and high-risk people are prioritized at the drive-through sampling sites, including healthcare workers, nursing home employees, and first responders. If you suspect you have contracted COVID-19 and have symptoms, the state encourages you to call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-364-3065 for assessment. 

To receive free COVID-19 testing, you must meet at least one of the following criteria, according to the state Department of Health:

  • You are symptomatic or have a history of symptoms of COVID-19, particularly if you are 70 years of age or older, you have a compromised immune system, or you have an underlying health condition.
  • You had close contact with a person known to be positive with COVID-19. 
  • You are subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine.
  • You are employed as a health care worker, first responder, or other essential worker who directly interacts with the public while working.
  • You come to a testing site because the facts and circumstances warrant testing.

If you have been tested and want to view your laboratory results, you could receive a text message or phone call. Alternatively, you can access the online patient portal here.

COVID-19 treatment coverage

In response to COVID-19, the State of New York announced a special enrollment period for health insurance through the NY State of Health insurance exchange, open until June 15, 2020. Additionally, New Yorkers who lose income may also qualify for Medicaid through the state. 

New Yorkers who have health insurance purchased in New York, as well as via Medicare or Medicaid, are eligible for the following coverage for COVID-19 related treatment:

  • Lab tests at a public lab, both oral and nasal swabs, are available free of charge.
  • Copayments, coinsurance, and deductible payments for COVID-19 testing have been waived when testing at an in-network laboratory.
  • Copayments, coinsurance, and deductible payments have been waived when an in-network healthcare provider or emergency room diagnoses a patient with COVID-19.

Additionally, New York residents experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic were able to defer their normal health insurance premium payments until June 1, 2020. However, New Yorkers will be responsible for paying their normal copayments, coinsurance, and deductible payments for any treatment of COVID-19 or follow up care. 

Telemedicine coverage in New York

New York State issued emergency guidance regarding the use of telehealth services in New York during the COVID-19 state of emergency. This guidance expanded the number of healthcare providers that could provide telemedicine services to New York residents, including expansion of reimbursements through Medicaid. Additionally, waivers that apply to copayment, coinsurance, and deductible payments for diagnoses also apply to those made via telemedicine services. 

For New Yorkers with private insurance, insurers are required to cover telehealth services as if they were in-person visits at a provider’s office or facility. Insurers can require, however, that telehealth services are provided by an in-network provider. New York authorities specifically ordered that telephone calls and video consultations are included in the definition of “telehealth,” including when performed using a smartphone or other mobile device.

Food benefits in New York

Supplemental SNAP benefits

The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) has expanded existing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to recipient households that are not currently receiving the maximum benefit available. Currently the maximum benefit allotment is as follows based on household size:

  • One member: $194 per month
  • Two members: $355 per month
  • Three members: $509 per month
  • Four members: $646 per month
  • Five members: $768 per month
  • Six members: $921 per month
  • Seven members: $1,018 per month
  • Eight members: $1,164 per month
  • Each additional member: $146 per month

Eligible households will automatically receive the supplemental benefit on their EBT card. There is no need to apply for the supplemental benefits. Supplemental benefits are a one-time payment. Recipients will receive their regular SNAP benefits again starting in May.

Nourish New York Initiative

The state allocated $25 million to purchase food and other goods from more than 2,100 New York farms. The food was distributed across 50 food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries; enough food was distributed to cover an estimated 20,000 households throughout the state. 

Housing and utilities benefits in New York

Mortgage forbearance

On March 24, 2020, the state Department of Financial Services announced a residential mortgage forbearance on property located throughout the state for a period of 90 days for any resident able to demonstrate a financial hardship related to the spread of the novel coronavirus. All New York regulated financial institutions must abide by the following rules, according to the Department of Financial Services:

  • Forbearance applications must be made widely available to any individual residing in New York who demonstrates financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Forbearance must be granted for 90 days whenever possible.
  • Provide additional financial relief, including:
    • Eliminating ATM fees at banks
    • Eliminating overdraft fees
    • Eliminating credit card late payment fees

Eviction moratorium

Under an executive order issued by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for non-payment of rent was extended to August 20, 2020. Additionally, the state has banned late-payment fees for missed rental payments for the length of the eviction moratorium. If you are facing a COVID-19 related economic hardship, you may also use your security deposit as payment and repay your security deposit over time. 

Utilities and internet

Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, the state Department of Public Works suspended utilities providers from cutting off residents’ services due to non-payment as a result of the novel coronavirus. 

Con Edison customers:

  • Will not have service shut off for non-payment.
  • Late-payment fees will be waived.
  • There will be no fees for payments made with credit and debit cards.
  • Work will only be done for emergencies, safety inspections, and critical issues (such as turning on service).
  • Meter readings have been suspended.

National Grid customers:

  • Collections activities and disconnections were temporarily suspended, at least until the end of April 2020.
  • Non-essential services are suspended, including meter readings, oil-to-gas conversions, gas service upgrades, and meter changes.
  • Payment options include online, by phone, by mail, and via bank website.

Education benefits in New York

New Yorkers struggling to pay their student loans due to COVID-19 related financial hardships may be eligible for automatic assistance through their loan services, including: 

  • Payment suspension
  • Suspension of interest accrual
  • Continued counting toward loan forgiveness programs, even if payments aren’t made
  • No negative credit reporting for suspended payments
  • End to debt collection activity, including wage garnishment
  • Any payments made will be applied to the loan account, and not to interest

In addition to state actions, the federal government automatically placed all federal student loans into administrative forbearance due to the passage of the CARES Act. 

COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented public health risk and economic crisis. For more information on support programs and resources that can help you navigate this challenging time, visit the Gusto COVID-19 Resource Hub.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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