New Jersey Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

Eligibility Team
Researcher & Writer
March 26, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE: Because the coronavirus pandemic has left so many Americans jobless, the federal government has given states more flexibility in granting unemployment benefits. If you have questions about whether you’re eligible for unemployment benefits read our COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits and Insurance FAQ and check out the New Jersey Unemployment Insurance Handbook.


New Jersey unemployment benefits program

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers unemployment insurance benefits for citizens in the state. It pays benefits to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own and also assists with helping unemployed workers find jobs by providing search and training services.

Money for these benefits comes from a payroll tax paid by employers and workers in New Jersey. The benefits are meant to partially replace wages lost after a job loss and to help maintain a degree of financial stability until a person goes back to work.

If you meet New Jersey unemployment qualifications, you may be able to draw benefits of up to $713 for up to 26 weeks in a benefit year.


Newly unemployed?

Several online services—like FlexJobs, 360training, or MyPerfectResume—can help you find work-from-home jobs, build a better resume, or earn training certifications.


How do I file for unemployment benefits in New Jersey?

To file a claim for unemployment benefits in New Jersey, the easiest way to do so online. However, people who have military, federal or out-of-state wages, and those employees who earned wages while working for a maritime employer, will need to file by calling a Reemployment Call Center as follows:

If you are filing a New Jersey unemployment claim and do not have access to a computer, you can go to one of the state’s One-Stop Career Centers to use a computer.

Before you file an initial claim, you’ll need to gather the following pieces of information:

  • Social Security number
  • Home address and mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Alien registration number of you are not a U.S. citizen
  • DD Form214 if you were are active military duty within the past two years
  • Wage information, including W2 forms and paystubs from the past 18 months
  • A New Jersey driver’s license number or a similar photo identification card
  • Banking information is you want to receive your benefits by direct deposit
  • Your previous employer’s information, including the date you last worked for them for all employers within the past 18 months
  • The reason you left your previous employer

When you file an initial claim, you will be asked to create a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You will use this PIN to certify for your benefits and to access your account, so it is important that you write it down and do not share it with anyone.

How do I certify for unemployment benefits in New Jersey?

After you file your initial claim, you will need to certify your benefits every week online or every two weeks by phone.

Certify online:

This is the quickest and easiest way to certify for benefits. You can certify benefits online every week, any day of the week, starting on Sundays. Certifying online will get your benefits processed faster than by phone. You can certify anytime during the following hours:

  • Monday–Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

As long as you’ve set up an online ID and have your PIN and password, you can check the status of your claim at any time.

Certify by phone:

If you certify by phone, you will do so every two weeks, on weekdays only. You must have your PIN to certify, and you can do so between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., M–F, including holidays. New Jersey uses the following schedule when you certify by phone:

  • Monday – if your Social Security number ends in an odd number
  • Tuesday – if your Social Security number ends in an even number
  • Wednesday-Friday – if you missed certifying on your assigned day.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  You should continue to certify for benefits even if you or your employer are going through an appeal process. If you win your appeal, you will get benefits only for the weeks that you certify.

How to contact the New Jersey Unemployment Office

Online:

To file an unemployment insurance benefits claim, the easiest way to do so is online through the New Jersey unemployment website. The Department of Labor also offers an online messaging option for unemployment insurance questions.

In person:

You can file a claim at one of the many New Jersey unemployment office locations across the state. To find a New Jersey unemployment office location, visit our helpful guide.

You can also get help filing an unemployment benefits claim at a One-Stop Career Center in your area.

By phone:

You can also file a claim by calling the state’s Reemployment Call Centers through the New Jersey unemployment phone numbers listed below:

You can also call the New Jersey unemployment numbers listed above if you need to get any kind of help with your claim and you are unable to find answers on the state’s website.

By mail:

Unemployment Insurance Customer Service Office New Jersey Department of Labor
P.O. Box 058
Trenton, NJ 08625-0058

If you have questions about prepaid debit cards issues through Bank of America, call them directly at 1-866-213-4074.

How unemployment works in New Jersey

  1. It is important to apply for New Jersey unemployment as soon as you lose your job so that your benefits can begin as soon as possible. This can be done online, in-person, or over the phone.
  2. After filing for state of New Jersey unemployment, you will get an approval or rejection notice via mail. This will come from a branch of the New Jersey unemployment department.
  3. If you qualify for unemployment benefits, you will receive up to $713 per week. Know that to receive funds, you may sometimes need to be interviewed by a claims examiner to maintain your New Jersey unemployment benefits eligibility.
  4. Filing New Jersey unemployment weekly claims is vital to ensuring you get your benefits. This is also called certifying and can be through the New Jersey unemployment website or phone number.
  5. So long as you keep up with New Jersey unemployment claim filing, you will continue to get your weekly benefits. You are eligible to get these funds for up to 26 weeks.

FAQs

How do I meet New Jersey unemployment eligibility requirements?

To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must meet the following initial New Jersey unemployment requirements:

How much money you earned in your base period.

Your base period is defined as the first four quarters out of the past five quarters before you file your initial New Jersey unemployment weekly claim. Your maximum benefit amount depends on how much money you earned in your base period. The maximum New Jersey unemployment amount in 2020 is $713.  In your base period, you must have 20 weeks where you earned gross wages totaling at least $10,000. A base week is defined as one where you earned at least $200.

If your claim begins between these dates:
Your base period will be:

January 1 through March 31

October 1 through September 30

April 1 through June 30

January 1 through December 31

July 1 through September 30

April 1 through March 31

October 1 through December 31

July 1 through June 30

If you don’t qualify for benefits using your base period wages, you may be able to qualify using an alternate base period. New Jersey has two possible alternate base periods. The first includes wages earned in the four most recently completed quarters before you file your claim. The second alternate base period is the three most recently completed quarters between the date you filed your claim and the weeks in the filing quarter up to the date you filed your claim.

The reason for your unemployment. 

If you became unemployed through no fault of your own, you may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. This means you did not lose your job due to misconduct, you quit or you were fired for cause.

To remain eligible after you file your initial claim, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Keep all scheduled appointments. You may be asked to come to an interview with a claims examiner or you may be scheduled for a phone interview. If you are not available or do not show up as scheduled, you may be denied benefits or they may be delayed.
  2. You must be able to work. This means you are physically and mentally able to work. If you are sick or have an injury that prevents you from doing so, your benefits may be denied, however, you may be eligible to receive benefits under New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Insurance program.
  3. You must be available for work. You have to be ready to start work immediately if you are offered a job. You cannot allow child care or transportation issues to keep you from going to work or you may be denied benefits.
  4. You are actively seeking work. You cannot just lay around and collect benefits. You must make attempts each week to secure work by contacting at least three employers each week in person, by phone, or on line. Be prepared to document your efforts when asked to do so.
  5. You cannot turn down suitable work.  Suitable work is defined as a job that is reasonably similar to your last job in terms of location, type of work, pay and benefits. The longer you are unemployed the more you must be willing to expand your work search. At some point, you may need to accept a job at lower pay and outside your normal scope of experience and skills to remain eligible to receive benefits.
  6. Claim your benefits when you are supposed to do so. This means claiming your benefits every week online or every two weeks by phone.

How long does it take to get unemployment in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development determines your unemployment benefit rate based on:

  1. Your weekly benefit rate, which is 60% of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum benefit amount, which is $713 in 2020.
  2. Your maximum claim benefit amount, which equals the total amount of benefits you could collect in one benefit year. A benefit year consists of 52 weeks starting with the first week you filed your claim. Your maximum amount is your weekly benefit amount multiplied by the number of your base week, up to a maximum of 26 weeks. It takes about 3 to 4 weeks to get your first benefits.

For example, if your average weekly wage is $1,000 during your base period, you would be eligible to receive $600 per week ($1,000 x 60% = $600). If you are eligible for a maximum of 26 weeks, then the total amount you could receive in your benefit year would be $13,200 (26 x $600).

If you are not eligible for the maximum amount of $713, then you could qualify for dependency benefits as well.

The state provides an online calculator so you can get an estimate of what your benefits could be.

What happens after I file an initial claim?

After you file an initial unemployment claim you will be mailed a Form BC9 which explains how to certify for benefits as well as any appointments you need to attend.  Appointments are mandatory and missing one could impact your ability to receive benefits.

Unemployment benefits are paid for a 7-day week that begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday. Within 10 days of applying for benefits, you will receive a “Notice to Claimant of Benefit Determination” which details your work history, your base period, your wages during the base period and your weekly benefit amount and maximum benefit amount. If there are any errors with your New Jersey unemployment, contact the Reemployment Call Center immediately.

Do I have to look for a job to get unemployment benefits?

The short answer is yes. Looking for a job is one of the requirements to keep getting NJ unemployment insurance benefits.

The state offers job seekers many resources to assist them. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has created New Jersey Career Connections. It is accessible online and in person. The website www.careerconnections.nj.gov allows job seekers to work independently, using online tools and resources, including OnRamp which is a job board and job match tool. There are also training programs, labor market and career information,

You can also get job search help in person at New Jersey Career Connections locations throughout the state. There are One-Stop Career Centers, local libraries and community colleges that can also assist you by providing you with additional tools and advice on how to proceed in your job search activities.

When and how will I get my New Jersey unemployment compensation?

You can receive unemployment insurance benefits either by debit card or by direct deposit. When you file your initial claim you will be asked to decide which method you prefer. If you do not specify, you will get your benefits by a debit card issued to you by Bank of America.

If you want direct deposit, which places money directly into your savings or checking account, you will need to provide banking information when you file your claim.

If you choose the prepaid debit card form, your benefits will be made available in your account within two business days after you claim your benefits.

How can I appeal a denial of my claim?

If you are denied benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision.

When you file an initial claim, you will receive a written decision by mail. If you are denied benefits or disagree with the determination, you must appeal in writing either by writing a letter or by using the state’s online form. You must appeal within 10 calendar days of the date of the determination. The appeal period will be extended only if you can show good cause for the delay.

If you file an appeal, you will get a notice with the details of when your hearing will take place in front of an Appeal Tribunal. Most are done by phone. After the hearing, the Appeal Tribunal will issue a written decision. If it rules in your favor, your benefits will begin to be processed within 7 days.

If the Appeal Tribunal rules against you, you can appeal to the Board of Review within 20 days of the mailing date of the Appeal Tribunal’s decision. Board of Review appeal instructions will be included in this mailing.

If you are turned down by the Board of Review, you can appeal that decision to the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court.

You can get more information about the appeals process here.

Eligibility Team
Written by
Eligibility Team
We are a team of experts dedicated to finding the right government programs for you. Our mission is simple: help people quickly and easily understand which programs they might be eligible for—all in one place. Our team is dedicated to researching and providing you with the most relevant information. We compile only the most trusted information from government sources into one place so you can find the facts you need and skip what you don’t.
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