Unemployment compensation is an insurance benefit paid to workers who meet all of the requirements of the New Jersey Unemployment Law. You may file claims online or by telephone.
To be eligible for Unemployment Benefits, you must:
No benefits can be paid to you for any week before you actually file your unemployment claim. You should always file as soon as possible after your become unemployed. When you file the claim, be sure to have available your Social Security number and the complete name and address of each employer that your worked for in the past 18 months. See the following two questions to find out how you may file your claim online or via telephone.
Before unemployment benefits can be paid to you, you must file a claim for unemployment benefits. You may file your new unemployment claim, or reopen an existing claim, via the Internet if you meet all the following requirements:
Before unemployment benefits can be paid to you, you must file a claim. There are three Reemployment Call Centers in New Jersey for filing new unemployment claims and reopening existing claims by telephone. The Reemployment Call Centers are open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
Your claim will be dated the Sunday of the week in which you call so make sure you call during the week you want your claim to begin. Call volume is heaviest on Mondays, so for faster service, call later in the week.
In order to reduce your call waiting time, it may sometimes be necessary to limit calls by Social Security Number. When this happens, you will be asked to call back at another time.
Telephones are available for use in your local One Stop Career Centers to call long distance to file a claim.
If your residence is serviced by one of the following One-Stop Career Centers, you will file your unemployment claim by calling the Cumberland Reemployment Call Center at (856) 507-2340.
You can help speed the claims filing process by having the following information available.
To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must have worked at least 20 base weeks in covered employment or you must have earned $6,200. For weeks worked in 2004 and 2005, the amount needed to establish a base week was $103; for weeks worked in 2006, the amount is $123. These wages must have been earned during a 52 week period that is called a base year.
Your regular base year period consists of 52 weeks that is determined by the date of your claim. The chart below shows what your regular base year period would be if you filed your claim any day between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006.
If your claim is dated in:
If your earnings during your regular base year period do not meet the qualifications for a claim, earnings in other base year periods will be reviewed. You may qualify for benefits if you worked at least 20 base weeks (a base week in 2005 is minimum weekly earnings of $103; a base week in 2006 is minimum weekly earnings of $123), or a total of $6,200 in any one-year period in the last 1 1/2 years for a claim dated in calendar year 2006. Generally, if you have established 20 base weeks or earned at least $6,200 in any one-year period in the last 18 months, you may qualify for a claim.
The amount of unemployment benefits you may receive each week is your Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR). The amount will be 60% of the average weekly earnings during your base year period, up to a maximum of $521 (in 2006). The maximum amount may change each year.
The total amount of benefits you may collect is called your Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA). The MBA is equal to the WBR times the total number of weeks worked in the base year period. Generally, for every week you worked during your base year period, you may be entitled to a week of benefits, up to a maximum of 26 times your Weekly Benefit Rate.
Example 1: An individual worked 20 weeks during the base year period. His Weekly Benefit Rate is $200. His Maximum Benefit Amount will be $200 times 20 weeks ($4,000).
Example 2: An individual who is entitled to a maximum 26-week claim (because he worked at least 26 or more weeks during the base year period) at a Weekly Benefit Rate of $300 will have a Maximum Benefit Amount of $7,800. (This is because $300 times 26 weeks = $7,800.)
Your unemployment claim will be in effect for approximately one year from the date of your claim. If you return to work before you collect all the benefits in your claim, and then become unemployed again before the one-year period ends, you should immediately reopen your claim (see the section entitled "Apply for Benefits"). If your one-year benefit year expires before you collect all the benefits in your claim, the remainder cannot be paid to you. You would then have to file a new claim for benefits.
If you voluntarily quit your job without "good cause connected with the work," or if you voluntarily retire, you may be disqualified for benefits. "Good cause connected with the work," means that your reason for leaving was not only a good reason but was also directly related to the job.
For example, a person quits work to move to another state because his or her spouse got a new job. While this is a good personal reason to quit, the reason for quitting is not connected with the work and the person would be disqualified.
To remove a disqualification for voluntary leaving, you must return to work for at least 4 weeks, earn at least 6 times your weekly benefit rate, and then become unemployed through no fault of your own.
If you quit your job, or if you voluntarily retire, you will be scheduled for a claims examiner interview. The examiner will determine if you are entitled to benefits.
If you were fired or discharged from your job because you did something not in the best interests of your employer (like breaking company rules or policy), you may be disqualified from collecting benefits. This kind of discharge is known as "misconduct." The disqualification would begin the week the firing or suspension occurs and continue for the next five weeks. After the disqualification period ends, you may be able to collect benefits.
If you were fired for any reason that is serious enough to be considered a crime under the "New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice," you may be disqualified from collecting benefits indefinitely. This is known as a "gross misconduct" discharge. To remove a "gross misconduct" disqualification, you must return to work for at least 4 weeks, earn 6 times your weekly benefit rate, and become unemployed through no fault of your own. In addition, the wages you earned with the employer who discharged you cannot be used to establish an unemployment claim or to remove a disqualification.
If you were fired, you will be scheduled for a claims examiner interview. The examiner will determine if you are entitled to benefits.
If it appears you are participating in a labor dispute, you must continue to claim your benefits by phone or on the Internet while a determination is being made as to your eligibility. The determination is made by the labor dispute officer in Trenton. That determination will be processed as soon as information provided by the employer and union are received.
If your unemployment is due to a labor dispute (strike or lockout) at your employer's premises that resulted in a work stoppage, you may be disqualified for benefits.
If you are working less than full-time due to your employer's lack of full-time work, you may be able to collect all or part of your unemployment benefits. Less than full-time means that you are not working more than 80% of the usual hours for your occupation (for example, if a 40 hour work week is common in your occupation, you may be able to receive benefits if you work 32 hours or less).
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* Information provided on this page is from the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.