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Unemployment apps revamped amid 16,000% spike in calls

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Facing an almost unfathomable spike in unemployment claims, state officials say they’ve revamped that system by partnering with Google Cloud, Verizon and others to provide critical upgrades increasing its capacity.

The online portal was closed several hours Thursday night while the state made the changes, which include a new, streamlined, and more reliable online application system.

Visit labor.ny.gov to access the new site, which was updated to better accommodate the influx of inquires as peak weeks have seen a 16,000% increase in phone calls and a 1,600% increase in web traffic, as compared to a typical week.

Additionally, the state’s new “call back” system now prevents the need for those with partially completed applications to try and reach the office themselves for verification, which often takes several strenuous attempts.

DOL began actively calling those individuals today (April 11).

“Like many across the Empire State, the majority of our staff are working from home, and New Yorkers may see an incoming caller ID that lists ‘PRIVATE CALLER.’ I want to encourage New Yorkers to answer these calls so we can complete your application and connect you with the benefits you deserve,” said Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “To prevent fraud, anyone calling from the Department of Labor will verify their identity by providing the date you filed your Unemployment Insurance application and the type of claim you filed. We are dedicating every resource available to increasing our capacity, processing claims, and helping New Yorkers weather this storm.”


Health insurance premiums

The State Department of Financial Services also issued new regulations this week extending the deferment of health insurance premiums under individual and small group commercial health insurance plans through June 1.

That’s an accomodation for consumers and businesses experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and follows the latest executive order issued by Governor Cuomo.


Tax breaks for first responders

To help those working on the frontlines of the pandemic, legislation is being worked through the state senate that would create an income tax exemption for all medical professionals and first responders who are combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similar legislation was recently introduced in the U.S. Congress that would provide for a federal income tax holiday for these individuals, as well.

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