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Getting answers to your unemployment questions

2 On Your Side has heard from people from Western New York to NYC to Florida, and they all have questions about unemployment benefits.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Your questions about unemployment benefits keep coming into our newsroom, and most of them have to do with you not getting your money yet.

2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik took a bunch of your concerns to the New York State Department of Labor Monday to get answers for you.

People from Western New York, downstate, Florida, and Georgia contacted us. Most just want their money, and they want to be able to talk to an actual human to get things squared away

A few people want to know if the New York State Department of Labor will ask you to upload personal documents like birth certificates and Social Security cards to process claims. They want to make sure they aren't being scammed.

The NYSDOL has flagged scams in the past where people claiming to work for the state call asking you for your Social Security Number. There have also been email and text scams.

Bottom line, the NYSDOL says texts from them will only come from the number 468-311 or via DocuSign. DOL representatives will never reach out directly through text, and if the DOL requests personal information, the state says it's secure through DocuSign. 

As for personal documents possibly being requested, we asked the DOL and got the following response: 

"The New York State DOL may ask for additional documentation from a claimant, like employment authorization documents, identity documents, or wage documentation to calculate their benefit rate. To ensure their documents are secure, claimants should only submit those documents through the secure messaging center in their online account or to an email address that ends in @labor.ny.gov."

On Tuesday, 2 On Your Side got answers to the three questions viewers have been sending us the most, regarding the extra $300 unemployment benefit extension. BUFFALO, N.Y. - The COVID-19 relief bill includes an extension of the extra $300 in unemployment benefits people were getting every week.

A woman from Westchester County says she's owed back pay and has been trying to get in touch with someone at the NYSDOL since August. We have heard from others with similar problems who have not been able to get through on the phone.

So, if someone is owed back pay and keeps getting disconnected when they call the main number, what should they do? The department of labor told us:

"Call volume is higher because of New Yorkers calling to ask about the federal relief bill. We encourage New Yorkers to not call about the bill and we will provide information as we have it, including a FAQ document that was posted and sent out on social media today."

We were also able to find some additional answers online. If you are owed back pay, you should look for an email from the NYSDOL with a link to your DocuSign form to certify for those weeks. 

You can also call your State Senator and Assembly Member for help connecting with the NYSDOL.

Another popular question is - if you exhaust all of your weeks, do you need to start a new claim if you are still unemployed? The state said last week that if you are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, continue to certify. These programs are now extended through March 14.

The department of labor added:

"If someone’s unemployment benefit year (the 52-week period after they first received benefits) has not expired, they should continue to certify weekly to automatically receive the extensions. If their unemployment benefit year has already ended, and they have not previously reapplied for extended benefits, they should submit a new application online."

Do you have a question about unemployment? Contact 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik.

After our story aired at 4 p.m., we got responses from the NYSDOL and answers to the three questions we featured on Monday. Those responses have been added to our report.