Like all states, New York has unemployment compensation laws that limit the amount you can collect. These laws prevent anyone from collecting overly large amounts from the unemployment insurance program. When you apply for benefits, the New York state Department of Labor calculates your benefits based on your previous wages. If the calculations exceed the maximum allowable by law, the Department of Labor rounds it down to $405 per week.

Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount

The weekly benefit amount is the most you’re eligible to collect per week under New York unemployment laws. Although your weekly benefit amount depends on your previous wages, you can’t collect more than the maximum allowable by law. That maximum is a percentage of what the average worker in the state of New York earns each week so it can change each July. At the time of publication, it’s $405.

How to Get It

The Department of Labor reviews the wages reported by your former employers to the state’s division of revenue. If your former employer didn’t report the earnings, you can show them to the Department of Labor by submitting paystubs or tax forms proving the income. It calculates your weekly benefit amount by dividing your base period high quarters by 26. So to collect the highest weekly benefit amount offered by New York state, you must have earned more than $10,530 in that high quarter.

Base Period

Your base period plays an important role in your unemployment calculations. All of the wages the state considers when determining when your eligibility must occur are in the base period. The base period is the first four of the last five full calendar quarters. So if you filed your claim on May 22, 2011, your base period is January through December 2010. The high quarter is the quarter in which you earn the most insured wages. This is the three months you must have earned that $10,530 needed to receive the maximum weekly benefit amount.

Insured Wages

Insured wages are those you earn from work covered under the New York unemployment compensation laws. Only the wages earned from insured work counts toward your weekly benefit amount. Insured work is almost any traditional employee/employer relationship, but self-employment, independent contract work and commission-only work are all excluded. So the $10,530 you need to earn in your high quarter to receive the maximum weekly benefit amount must be from insured work.