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Am I eligible for any unemployment benefits if my work has been negatively impacted by COVID-19?

Last Updated: 10/15/2020

If you've lost your job and are seeking help, refer to this guide that will help you connect to benefits and resources you may need while trying to safely get back to work as well as tips for coping with the stress of losing a job.

The State of New Jersey has created a benefits eligibility tool to help you understand what benefits programs and job protections are available to you during the COVID-19 outbreak.

You can also visit and read about the state and federal laws and benefit programs that may apply to you. There you will also find a helpful chart clarifying the different scenarios and the available benefits in English and Spanish as well as 13 other languages.

Programs Available To Help

NJ Earned Sick Leave, emergency federal paid sick and emergency FMLA childcare leave are paid by your employer directly. Unemployment, Temporary Disability and Family Leave benefits require an application to the State of NJ. Individuals should apply for the program that best fits their situation as applying for the wrong one could cause delays.

New Jersey is providing 20 weeks of extended unemployment to New Jersey workers who have exhausted their state and federal jobless benefits. The state extension kicks in after claimants exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment plus 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), described below. Eligible claimants can now receive up to 59 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Claimants will be automatically enrolled into extended benefits as their federal extension ends. They do not need to contact an agent or reapply.

Additional COVID-19 Benefits

As a result of federal legislation, New Jersey's unemployment system can provide more benefits and help those who are not typically eligible:

  • Independent contractors, the self-employed, "gig" workers, and those looking for part-time work, are eligible (known as "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance")
  • Those who, under normal circumstances, don't have enough work history or who have exhausted regular Unemployment benefits, are eligible (known as "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance")
  • Up until July 25, Unemployment Insurance provided an additional $600 per week, on top of regular and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits (known as "Pandemic Unemployment Compensation"). Benefits are continuing to be issued for any eligible weeks, April 4 through July 25. The distribution of additional benefits is dependent on Congressional action.

New Jersey workers who have experienced any of the following, but not limited to, COVID-19 situations are likely eligible for help through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance:

  • Workers sick, quarantined, or exposed to COVID-19
  • Workers who need to take care of a family member or household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Workers who are the primary caregiver for a child or family member unable to attend school or another facility closed due to COVID-19
  • Workers who lost employment or hours due to COVID-19

In late September, New Jersey's application to FEMA's Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program was approved for the current maximum of six weeks. The NJ Department of Labor has launched the process for workers to receive up to six weeks of Lost Wages Assistance at $300 per week. Eligible claimants can expect to receive this supplemental benefit in a lump sum of up to $1,800 in late October.

Many claimants eligible for LWA do NOT need to take any additional steps to get those benefits.

Only claimants who have not yet certified their unemployment is COVID-related must now do so. The Department of Labor will email and text these claimants with further instructions. They will need to attest that their unemployment is COVID-related in NJDOL's online Check Claim Status application by checking the appropriate box in the "Self-Service Options" section.

For more information, refer to the Department of Labor's Frequently Asked Questions on benefit extensions.

How to Apply For Benefits

To apply, visit

Applicants will be assessed first for traditional unemployment insurance benefits. If traditional unemployment benefits are not applicable to that worker, the application may be denied first and then assessed by NJ Department of Labor for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.

Please note that it is not possible to save your online application and return to it; you must complete it and submit it all at once. Once you've submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation number at the end of your application; please record this. You will receive instructions on how and when to claim benefits.

Claimants for unemployment assistance must certify for these benefits online each week. The certification schedule -- based on Social Security number -- can be found at

For more information and instructions on applying for unemployment assistance, see NJDOL's step-by-step guide, including how-to videos, and the NJDOL's April 29, 2020 press release.

For more information on Unemployment Insurance, see Frequently Asked Questions During the Coronavirus Emergency for NJ Workers or visit

NOTE: NJ's Unemployment Insurance system is experiencing record levels of demand due to COVID-19. We're working quickly to expand our capacity to respond to the unprecedented number of residents filing unemployment claims and ask for your patience.

No matter when your claim is processed, you will be paid benefits for every week you are eligible. If you haven't received your unemployment benefits yet and return to work, you will still be able to claim benefits for any weeks you were eligible if your application is approved - even if payments arrive after you return to work.