The $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund is a long overdue income replacement program for New York’s estimated half a million excluded workers who have been ineligible for Unemployment Insurance and excluded from any economic relief for nearly a year.
What We Won
- Retroactive funds back to the start of the pandemic
- Limited exceptions barring workers without an ITIN from accessing full Tier One benefits
- The fund permits a variety of documents to prove work history.
- DOL commissioner can adjust what evidence workers can use to prove eligibility – through regulations – as long as AG also approves to protect from fraud
- State distribution of funds – not through nonprofits or charities
Who is eligible?
- Be a current resident of New York;
- Have resided in New York prior to March 27, 2020;
- Have lost wages or income after February 2020 because of:
○ COVID-related unemployment, partial unemployment, or ability to work;
○ COVID-related death or disability of a breadwinner or major household source of income; ● Not be eligible for Unemployment Insurance or federal COVID-related income relief; and
- Not have earned more than $26,208 in the 12 months before the law’s effective date.
Tier System: Workers will be eligible for one of two tiers of benefits:
- Tier One: $15,600 total benefit pre-taxes (equivalent to $300/week over the course of 52 weeks)
○ To be eligible, workers must:
■ Have filed a tax return for tax years 2018, 2019, or 2020 using a valid ITIN number; OR ■ Provide a letter from an employer showing dates of work and why they’re no longer employed; OR
■ Provide at least six weeks of pay stubs/wage statements from the six months prior to when the worker became eligible for benefits; OR
■ Provide a W-2 or 1099 form for tax years 2019 or 2020 showing wages or income; OR
■ Provide a Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) Wage Notice given by employer at time of hiring showing a worker was employed in the six months before becoming eligible for benefits.
○ Note: The budget allows the Department of Labor Commissioner to establish “alternative documents” that show workers were employed and paid for at least six weeks in the six months before becoming eligible for benefits.
If applicants are not eligible for Tier One funding, they can qualify for Tier Two.
- Tier Two: $3,200 total benefit pre-taxes (equivalent to the sum of the three federal stimulus checks)
○ In addition to demonstrating proof of residency and identity (see below), the Commissioner of Labor is charged with creating a point system including documents such as pay stubs, wage statements, bank statements or receipts demonstrating a pattern of payments, to determine work-related eligibility.
Avoid Scams Applications are not yet available. The State must create a new program to distribute the funds. Do not hire a private attorney or any other person to apply for the fund. New York State government and nonprofit organizations will announce when the program is open for applications.
What documents should I prepare?
Proof of Residence: Applicants can prove residency with the following:
- Non-expired NYS drivers license, non-driver ID or IDNYC, OR
- Two of the following documents, one dated prior to March 27, 2020 and one dated 30 days prior to the law going into effect or later:
○ Copy of a utility bill
○ Bank or credit card statement
○ A current lease, mortgage payment, or property tax statement
○ Letter addressed to applicant from the New York City Housing Authority
○ Letter to applicant from a homeless shelter indicating applicant currently resides at the shelter
○ Letter to the applicant from a non-profit that provides services to the homeless
- Any other document the NYS Commissioner of Labor deems acceptable
Proof of Identity: Applicants use a point system – to be eligible, you need four points:
- 4 points:
○ Non-expired New York state driver’s license or non-driver identification card
○ A non-expired United States passport
○ An IDNYC identification card
- 3 points:
○ Non-expired passport issued by a country other than the United States
- 2 points:
○ NYS office of mental health photo ID card
- 1 point:
○ Marriage certificate or divorce decree
○ New York state inpatient photo identification card
○ Non-expired parks dept and recreation membership card
○ Foreign birth certificate
○ Consular ID card (or any other photo ID issued by another country to its citizens)
○ Diploma or transcript from a high school, college or university in the US
○ Any other document the DOL decides to accept (but must be assigned less than 4 points)
This was prepared by the New York Immigration Coalition and translated versions will be posted as they become available.