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Clearing up confusion over unemployment benefits as COVID pandemic hits 1-year mark

Many Western New Yorkers contacted 2 On Your Side with questions about what to do with their claims as they approach a year of collecting unemployment benefits.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It has been a year since the coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses to close, and that means it has been a year since some people had to start looking for new jobs. 

Many who qualify for unemployment benefits have questions about how to keep them going as they hit that one-year mark.

Those questions have been pouring in from people approaching their benefit year ending date. They are confused about what to do, which is understandable, because this is new for a lot of people.

This is part of the email Amy C. sent to 2 On Your Side. She says, "I have been receiving benefits, and yesterday when I called to certify, it said my benefits were exhausted?!? I thought pandemic unemployment was extended through September. Nowhere can I find if I have to reapply or what happens now. I'm still unemployed!"

Traci P. has a question about the same thing. She asked, "It says that my unemployment benefits have been exhausted. Should I try again? Some people are telling me that I need to reapply, but I've read several times not to do that. I'm very confused."

And April S. said, "My unemployment end date is 3/21. I have one week left, and I have not returned back to work. Do I have to file a new claim or just keep certifying on Sundays? I got email and a text saying I may be eligible for PUI. I thought that was what I was receiving. I'm not sure what to do, and I'm not sure what unemployment I'm receiving." 

With the $300 in weekly federal benefits extended, many 2 On Your Side viewers are sending in questions about that and more. BUFFALO, N.Y. - With President Joe Biden signing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law, a lot of of you have asked us questions about how this will impact your unemployment benefits.

For answers, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik went to the New York State Department of Labor.

A NYSDOL spokesperson told her, "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants who continue to be unemployed when they reach their initial Benefit Year End date DO NOT need to reapply for benefits. Instead, PUA claimants should continue to certify weekly while unemployed to continue receiving the benefits they are eligible for."

There are also new guidelines explaining what Unemployment Insurance recipients need to do if they are still unemployed when they reach their Benefit Year End date. Here are the guidelines:

Once you figure out that year end date, you need to figure out if you qualify for extended benefits or a new claim. It is based on your personal situation, and it's all spelled out in the document posted above. There are also answers to frequently asked questions in the document.

If you have a question about unemployment, or how to get a vaccine appointment, just send Kelly Dudzik an email.

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