New Jersey Unemployment Eligibility
New Jersey Unemployment Eligibility Calculator
Are you willing and able to work?
How did you lose your previous job?
Have you been affected by coronavirus?
Were you offered telework with pay by your employer?
Were you fired for no fault of your own?
Did you quit your last job due to unsafe working conditions, not being paid, discrimination and / or health and safety risks?
Do you have paid medical leave?
Do you have a family member you are caring for?
You May Be Eligible
You May Not Be Eligible
Do you have paid family leave?
You May Be Eligible
You May Not Be Eligible
New Jersey unemployment insurance provides financial help to eligible workers who have been laid off or terminated through no fault of their own. To qualify for UI benefits, you must meet a variety of eligibility requirements.
How to qualify for NJ unemployment benefits
When you apply for unemployment insurance benefits, the NJDOL looks at several factors to determine if you’re eligible. They examine the reasons why you’re not working and verify if you earned enough money as per the legal minimum requirement.
To be eligible for NJ unemployment compensation, the following must be true:
- You must have earned at least $260 per week for 20 weeks (or at least $13,000 total) during your base year period
- You must be unemployed through no fault of your own
- You must be actively searching for work
- You must be willing to accept any suitable job offer
- You must be able and available to work full-time
- You must maintain eligibility by certifying each week and attending any required appointments
If you fulfill these conditions, you may obtain benefits for a period of up to 26 weeks within a year. Currently, there are no extended unemployment benefits available beyond 26 weeks.
Financial Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for New Jersey unemployment benefits, you must have earned a minimum amount during a specific period known as the “base period.” The base period is used to determine your eligibility and calculate your benefit amount. You can use the New Jersey unemployment calculator to estimate your weekly payment.
You must have earned at least $260 per week during 20 or more weeks in covered employment during the base year period, or you must have earned at least $13,000 in total covered employment during the base year period.
What is a base period?
Typically, the base period covers the first four of the last five calendar quarters before the week you first apply for benefits. This is known as the regular base year period and lasts for 52 weeks.
The earnings you receive during the base year will determine the amount of weekly benefits you’re eligible to receive, as well as the total sum you can claim within a year.
In situations where a regular base year doesn’t apply, the NJ DOL can use an alternate base period. New Jersey uses two different alternate base periods.
Alternate Base Year #1 – The four most recently completed calendar quarters preceding the date of the claim are used to calculate your earnings.
Alternate Base Year #2 – The three most recently completed calendar quarters preceding the date of claim, and weeks and wages in the filing quarter up to your last day of work. This alternate base year will contain less than 52 weeks.
Whether you qualify for the standard base period, or one of the alternate base periods, the following remains true: To be eligible for benefits, you must have worked for at least 20 base weeks where you earned at least $260 or earned a minimum of $13,000 in any one-year span during the last 18 months.
Additional Eligibility Requirements
In addition to meeting the financial requirements, eligible claimants must also be:
- Actively searching for work
- Willing to accept any suitable job offer
- Able and available to work full-time
- Unemployed through no fault of your own
- A United States citizen or be legally allowed to work in New Jersey
This means that if you are sick, disabled, or unable to work for some reason, you won’t qualify for UI benefits. Instead, you may want to look into applying for disability benefits or Workers’ Compensation.
Why are you unemployed?
The biggest requirement that can affect your UI benefits is the reason why you are unemployed.
Unemployment insurance benefits are intended for New Jersey workers who lose their job due to circumstances beyond their control, such as business downsizing or lack of work from an employer.
However, if you quit your job for reasons unrelated to work, or were terminated due to misconduct, you will likely be disqualified. A claims examiner will interview you by phone or email to assess your eligibility. Your employer may also be contacted to participate in the process. Based on the information provided by you and your employer, the claims examiner will determine your eligibility for benefits.
If you quit voluntarily or were terminated due to misconduct, you may be denied benefits.
Can I obtain unemployment benefits if I am laid-off?
When you get laid off, it is not your fault. In almost all cases, this means that you are eligible for unemployment benefits.
Getting laid-off doesn’t mean that you were fired or you did something wrong. It just means that the company you worked for did not have enough work for you to do, and could no longer pay for your job.
Maintaining your eligibility
To continue receiving weekly benefit payments, you must certify each week that you meet the following requirements:
- Are able to work
- Are actively seeking work
- Are available for work
- Will not refuse an offer of suitable work
New Jersey has work search requirements that include documenting a list of job contacts each week. You must actively search for a new job and be prepared to accept a job offer. If you are unable to work due to caregiving responsibilities or physical limitations, you may not be eligible to receive benefits.
You must also attend any required meetings or you could be denied benefits. If you are scheduled for an in-person meeting or interview, you must appear in person at the NJ unemployment office on time. If you are scheduled for a phone interview, the NJ DOL will make every effort to call you on time, though you must be available for 2 hours after the scheduled appointment time in case there is a delay. If you miss an appointment, you may not receive your benefit payment for that week.
If your phone number changes, be sure to update your information as soon as possible to avoid a loss of UI benefits.
Quitting for “good cause”
Can I get unemployment if I quit my job?
You might be able to receive unemployment if you quit a job in New Jersey, but it depends in documentation and circumstances. New Jersey considers the reason why you are out of work and the basic law is that is must be for a cause that is not your fault. If you leave willingly, it’s not easy to qualify.
New Jersey does recognize a few special cases, such as
- Domestic violence
- Leaving job to join a military spouse assigned to a new location
- Quitting job for “good cause”
If you decide to quit your job without “good cause,” you may not qualify to receive NJ unemployment benefits. “Good cause” means that your reason for leaving is so compelling that you had no other choice but to quit.
In most cases, you cannot voluntarily quit and collect benefits, but there are certain situations where you may be eligible if you can prove unsafe, unhealthful, or dangerous working conditions that forced you to quit.
In cases where leaving your job is related to domestic violence or the transfer of your spouse/civil union partner who is an active military member out of state, you may still be eligible for benefits. You will need to provide evidence of these circumstances, and the examiner will determine your eligibility based on unemployment insurance guidelines.
If you leave your job for personal reasons, such as moving out of the area or pursuing better pay or more hours, your reason for quitting is not work-related. However, there are circumstances where you may still qualify for benefits. A claims examiner will schedule an interview to evaluate your eligibility according to New Jersey law. It is very important that you provide honest, accurate information to avoid issues with New Jersey unemployment fraud.
If you were fired
Can I receive unemployment if I am fired?
Benefits in New Jersey are not obtainable to people who were fired for misconduct or performance related issues. People who were fired for reasons mot related to their performance, however are eligible for benefits. So, for example, if an individual was fired because the company for which he worked chose to cut back and restructure, then he is possibly eligible. However, if he was fired for carelessness, he is not qualified.
If you were fired or discharged from your job, you might not be eligible for benefits. A claims examiner will investigate to determine if there was any misconduct related to your separation.
There are two types of misconduct: misconduct and gross misconduct. A simple misconduct disqualification lasts for the next five weeks after the firing or suspension. After the disqualification period ends, you may reapply for benefits.
If you were fired for committing a criminal offense, this is known as a gross misconduct discharge. You may be disqualified from collecting benefits indefinitely.
A claims examiner will conduct a fact-finding interview by phone or email to determine your eligibility. The examiner may request specific documents as evidence of your separation.
How New Jersey defines “suitable work”
You are required to accept any suitable job offer. But what does suitable work mean, exactly?
The NJDOL considers several factors when determining whether a job is considered “suitable” for an individual filing a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. The specific circumstances of the claimant are taken into consideration, such as the risk to the individual’s health, safety, and morals, their physical fitness and prior training, and their previous work experience, earnings, and benefits.
A job is considered suitable if it pays at least 80% of your average weekly wage over the past year. Other determining factors can include the length of your previous unemployment, your skills and experience, and your prospects for finding work in your occupation.
When filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you are expected to seek employment that is similar to your previous job in terms of job duties, distance traveled, and salary. However, the longer you remain unemployed, the more flexible you need to be when it comes to accepting a job offer.
What if my NJ unemployment claim is denied?
If your claim for New Jersey Unemployment Insurance benefits is denied, you have the right to file an appeal and protest the decision. You can request a hearing to present evidence and argue your case. You must file the appeal within 10 days of receiving the denial notice. You can also call the NJ unemployment call center for assistance.
There are alternate plans that may come into effect if you did not meet this 20-week requirement. The unemployment department will consider the previous 18 months and make a determination about eligibility