$250 Million in Benefits Already Released; Additional $600 Million Undergoing Final Verification for Applicants Identified as Eligible to be Distributed by End of Month
90,000 New Yorkers Have Applied for Excluded Workers Program, Which Provides Relief to Individuals who Lost Income During Pandemic and Did Not Qualify for Other Benefits
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the New York State Department of Labor has approved over $850 million in Excluded Workers Program benefits for distribution in the first month of applications for the program going live. Of these benefits, $250 million has already been released, and an additional $600 million is undergoing final verification for applicants identified as eligible, which is expected to be distributed by the end of the month. The program application launched on August 1, 2021, in 13 different languages, and within one month, NYS DOL received over 90,000 applications, nearly 50,000 of which have been approved thus far. Fund administrators initially estimated that review and processing would take six to eight weeks, but close collaboration among various State agencies allowed payments to go out much sooner.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, and as we continue our work to rebuild and recover we know people are still in need," Governor Hochul said. "The Excluded Workers Fund is a critical lifeline to thousands of New Yorkers who were an integral part of keeping our state running during the worst moments of the pandemic, and that's why I have pushed to make sure we get money out the door as quickly as possible. This is an important first step - payments are going out ahead of schedule to provide these individuals with the financial relief they need and deserve. I applaud the advocates, community organizations and the State Legislature for making this historic program a reality, and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to apply."
"These workers stepped up when the pandemic hit and kept New York moving forward," New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. "We're doing our part to review and process payments quickly so eligible recipients can get the assistance they need."
The Excluded Workers Fund was created to bring financial relief to thousands of workers across the state who lost income during the pandemic and did not qualify for government-issued COVID-19 benefits is in the final approval stages.
Applicants can apply online 24/7, and DOL's 600-person multi-lingual call center is available seven days a week, from 7 AM to 7 PM. The EWF application process utilizes state-of-the-art technology, including an EWF virtual assistant that can provide applicants with their application's status throughout the process. Applicants can also speak with a live representative or receive a callback in 24 to 48 hours. The application and an FAQ document are available in 13 different languages on the Department of Labor's EWF page.
Approved applicants receive one of two benefit amounts based on the level of work eligibility documentation they provide in addition to verifying their identity and residence. Tier 1 qualifiers receive $15,600 and Tier 2 qualifiers receive $3,200. To date, more than 10,000 applicants have been approved to receive funds, with nearly 40,000 more in the final approval phase. Of those, 99 percent have qualified for Tier 1 benefits. Approved applicants receive a one-time payment on a prepaid card mailed to the address provided in the application. Cards allow for cash withdrawal orpurchases with merchants.
Similar to unemployment insurance claims, the safeguards and fraud detection built into the thorough review process are designed to ensure that funds go to eligible applicants, not scammers.
DOL plans to make available a real-time dashboard that will provide the latest EWF program data.
- Since August 1, 2021, over 90,000 New Yorkers have applied.
- Nearly $250 million has already been distributed.
- An additional $600 million is in the final approval process
- Of the non-English applications received so far, the three most popular languages were Spanish (32%), Chinese (2.97%), and Korean (1.1%).
- Applications have also been received in Arabic, Bengali, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Polish, Russian, and Urdu.
- 54% of the workers approved are between the ages of 30 and 39
- Top 10 Counties by Applications Approved
- Queens - 30%
- Kings - 17%
- Bronx - 15%
- New York - 7%
- Nassau - 4%
- Westchester - 4%
- Suffolk - 4%
- Richmond - 2%
- Erie - 1%
- Monroe - 1%
- Top 10 Zip Codes
- 11368 - 4%
- 11373 - 3%
- 11220 - 3%
- 11355 - 3%
- 11377 - 2%
- 11372 - 2%
- 11354 - 1%
- 10458 - 1%
- 10467 - 1%
- 10468 - 1%
NYS Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "Our agency is on track to have fully processed over 90,000 applications for a first-in-the-nation program in a matter of weeks. I am proud of the team who has worked tirelessly to stand up an entirely new program which is now helping tens of thousands of New York families."
State Senator Jessica Ramos said, "Relief is finally in sight for many of the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers across our state who were left without financial support throughout the pandemic, a much needed boon to communities of color. We are still working to make this Fund as inclusive of everyone who lost income in the past year and a half but as checks begin to arrive in excluded workers' homes, we are thankful they'll be able to catch up on rent and help their kids better prepare for the school year."
Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa said, "The Fund for Excluded workers was born out of the pain and despair that we witnessed as our communities were excluded from government assistance at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, this much-needed relief has begun to reach families across our state. We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Hochul and the Dept. of Labor to eliminate barriers to access and ensure that as many families as possible are able to benefit from the fund.
Bianca Guerrero from the Fund Excluded Workers coalition said, "After eighteen months of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacted communities are finally receiving the emergency relief they are owed. The fact that 90,000 excluded workers have applied in the first 30 days demonstrates the dire need of this program. The Fund Excluded Workers Coalition, comprised of 200 organizations across New York State, is proud of the organizing by excluded workers and their communities that led to this moment. New York State must set a new precedent for the rights of immigrant workers across the country. We will continue to closely monitor implementation of this program to ensure all eligible New Yorkers apply for this relief."
Manuel Castro, Executive Director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) said, "Over the last 18 months, we have seen first-hand the devastation the pandemic has brought to immigrant communities and the tremendous needs they now face. For this reason, over the last month, NICE has been hosting daily clinics to assist hundreds of immigrant workers and their families apply to the Excluded Worker Fund, a program that will not only save lives but will be critical for the recovery of our city. When COVID-19 hit, immigrant workers were doing essential jobs on the frontlines in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic. But when they lost work, they were excluded from any form of pandemic relief. These funds are critical for all of those hardworking individuals and their families who have waited for over a year and play such vital roles in our communities."
Pete Meyers, Executive Director of Thompkins County Workers' Center said, "Payments from the Excluded Workers Fund are providing vital financial relief to workers who drive economic growth in communities across the state. This is the right thing to do for those New Yorkers who have contributed so much to our state, but couldn't receive benefits when they lost work during the pandemic."
Richard Witt, Executive Director of the Rural and Migrant Ministry said, "We are thrilled to see these much-needed benefits going to essential workers throughout New York State, who, through their labor, make vital contributions to our economy. Farmworkers in particular have played a key role in our state's recovery, and we advocated to ensure that they would be treated with dignity and afforded the equitable support they deserve."
Immediately upon passage of the landmark EWF legislation in April, DOL began partnering closely with representatives of the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition and other government agencies that serve immigrant populations to ensure this program would be uniquely tailored to meet the needs of communities it seeks to benefit. Understanding that many organizations who work most closely with impacted communities face resource constraints, DOL awarded more than $15 million in grants funds to 75 not-for-profit community-based organizations (CBOs) across the state to provide direct application assistance, education, and training. These community partners also provided key input on all aspects of the program, including developing regulations that substantially expanded the number of documents applicants may submit to establish eligibility and the application itself.
A comprehensive list of approved CBOs ready to assist applicants is available at dol.ny.gov/cbolist. In addition to outreach from partner COBs, the NYS DOL has launched a promotional campaign for EWF that includes ads in English, Spanish and Chinese on social media, TV, radio, newspapers, subways and buses.
Benefits are currently being distributed to approved applicants on a first-come, first-served basis, so New Yorkers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible at dol.ny.gov/ewf.
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