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

Last Updated: 04/30/2021

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 nj.gov/labor 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.

NJ Earned Sick Leave and emergency federal paid sick/childcare leave are paid by your employer directly. Unemployment, Temporary Disability and Family Leave benefits require an application to the State of NJ. You cannot receive pay or benefits from more than one program/law at the same time. Individuals should apply for the program that best fits their situation as applying for the wrong one could cause delays.

Programs Available To Help

On March 11, 2021, the federal American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law. It extends assistance from the federal Continued Assistance Act, signed December 27, 2020, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act, signed March 27, 2020.

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 75 weeks of benefits, up until September 4, 2021, to NJ workers who are (1) not eligible for unemployment benefits in any state,including self-employed workers (independent contractors, "gig" workers), (2) otherwise able and available to work except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to a COVID-19 qualifying reason, and (3) able to demonstrate labor market attachment, through earnings or an official work offer.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) was extended through September 4, 2021. PEUC now provides up to 49 weeks of additional benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment for a maximum of 75 weeks. Individuals who exhaust these benefits may be eligible for an additional 20 weeks of state unemployment extended benefits.
  • Those collecting regular unemployment insurance and PUA may be eligible for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides an additional $300 per week from January 2 through September 4, 2021.

The federal relief bills also extended employer tax credits for federal paid sick and childcare leave. Employers are not required to provide this leave after December 31, 2020 but may voluntarily do so and receive a tax credit. Learn more at dol.gov and irs.gov.

Note: These tax credits can now be used to take time off related to COVID-19 vaccinations and side effects. Learn more here.

Additional details will be posted as more information becomes available. See myunemployment.nj.gov for more information.

How to Apply For Benefits

For information and instructions on applying for unemployment assistance, see NJDOL's step-by-step guide, including how-to videos. For information on applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), including an application guide for self-employed workers, see
myunemployment.nj.gov/pua

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

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.

Source: nj.gov/labor/covidbenefits; https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2020/20200429_puapayments.shtml; https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2020/20200701_20weekextension.shtml; https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/covid_returntowork.shtml; https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200826b.shtml; https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2021/20210107_paymentsupdate.shtml