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If I’m self-employed or own a business, am I eligible for unemployment or other benefits?

Last Updated: 09/29/2021

If you've lost your job and are seeking help, refer to this general 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.

Self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers:

You may have been eligible under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which expired September 4, 2021. New applications for PUA are not accepted after September 4, 2021. Learn more at myunemploymnet.nj.gov/pua.

Workers who have been properly classified as independent contractors are not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance benefits. Learn more here.

PUA benefits can be paid retroactively for periods of unemployment that were a direct result of the pandemic, beginning on or after February 2, 2020. Claims dated December 27, 2020 or later can only be backdated to December 6, 2020. If you believe your claim should be backdated, you'll need to request a backdate over the phone, even if you submit your application online

To see if you may be eligible for New Jersey's Unemployment Insurance, Temporary Disability Insurance, Earned Sick Leave, and Family Leave Insurance programs visit nj.gov/labor/covidbenefits.

Self-employed workers may also be eligible for tax credits to take advantage of federal paid sick leave and childcare leave through September 30, 2021. Learn more from the IRS.

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

Business Owners

If you are a business owner, information regarding unemployment insurance eligibility can be found at NJDOL's Information for Corporate Officers & Business Owners.

In addition, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has several programs to support thousands of businesses and their workers facing economic hardship due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The initiatives include a grant program for small businesses, a zero-interest loan program for mid-size companies, support for private-sector lenders, funding for entrepreneurs, and a variety of resources providing technical support and marketplace information. For more information read this article.

New Jersey businesses are also eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs). These are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period. Learn more on how to apply and if you're eligible here.

Source: nj.gov/labor/covidbenefits; https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3548/text; https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know; https://blog.ssa.gov/commissioner-of-social-security-shares-update-about-covid-19-economic-impact-payments-for-beneficiaries/