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Am I eligible for any unemployment benefits if my work has been negatively impacted by COVID-19?
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 December 27, 2020, the federal Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 was signed into law. It extends assistance from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act, signed March 27, 2020.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 50 weeks of benefits, up until March 13, 2021, to individuals who are typically ineligible for Unemployment benefits, for example independent contractors, self-employed, and "gig" workers; those who do not have enough earnings to qualify for regular unemployment; and eligible individuals who are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to a covered COVID-19 reason.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) was extended through March 13, 2021. PEUC now provides up to 24 weeks of additional benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment for a maximum of 50 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 through March 13, 2021.
The law also extended employer tax credits for paying 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/coronavirus/new-employer-tax-credits
Note: NJ residents currently claiming federal benefits (PUA or PEUC) will receive the new benefits without delay, and should continue to certify weekly. Anyone who exhausts those benefits on or after Dec. 26, 2020 will see a gap in payments while the NJ Department of Labor awaits directions from the federal government and then reprograms their systems to add the 11-week extension. These claimants should wait for notification from NJDOL before resuming weekly certification. NJDOL also will provide the January-March 2021 $300 FPUC benefit, and will begin distribution as soon as user testing is successfully completed.
Additional COVID-19 Benefits
Under 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")
- Under the new federal stimulus, individuals receiving unemployment benefits may be eligible for an additional $300 per week of benefits from January through March 13, 2021.
New Jersey workers who have experienced any of the following, but not limited to, COVID-19 situations may be 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
How to Apply For Benefits
To apply, visit myunemployment.nj.gov.
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.
Approved claimants for unemployment assistance must certify for these benefits online each week. The certification schedule -- based on Social Security number -- can be found at myunemployment.nj.gov.
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