It is extremely difficult to check whether a person in New York or any other state is collecting unemployment benefits. This is considered confidential information known only to a recipient, a former employer, and the state agency administering the funds, such as the New York Department of Labor. However, there are other ways of checking.
Ask the person. The simplest, most direct way of finding out whether an individual is receiving unemployment benefits is to ask him. However, unless the person is compelled by a court to do so, he has no responsibility to provide you with an answer, nor to tell you the truth.
Ask friends and former associates. Although under New York state law, an employer is forbidden from divulging whether a former employer is receiving unemployment compensation, no law prevents people whom the recipient has told from repeating it. For this reason, you might ask the person's friends and former associates, who might be able to relay to you second-hand information.
Check public records. Although this is not likely, if the person is involved in another court case and the records from this case are not sealed, the court case might mention whether the person is receiving unemployment benefits. To check these records, look through records both in New York superior court, as well as any local jurisdictions near the person, such as the county courthouse.
Check with the New York Department of Labor. Normally, the Department of Labor will not divulge to an outside party whether an individual is receiving benefits. However, you will be allowed to know if you are a former employer of the individual and he is using his time in your employment to claim benefits. At the least, you will be informed if the individual is using his employment with you to claim benefits.