Unemployment insurance is a program that assists the laid off worker meet financial obligations while seeking a new job. The file for unemployment insurance over the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or by telephone. Most employees with a steady track record of employment qualify for benefits. In order to prevent incompetent individuals from using up the state unemployment fund, New Jersey sets eligibility rules.
Eligibility for New Jersey Unemployment Benefits
To ensure you follow the rules, The Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD) has a detailed process for determining eligibility.
Non Monetary Eligibility
In order to start your unemployment, NJ unemployment requirements include the following:
- You are totally unemployed. Depending on your vocation and industry, you may qualify for unemployment if you have had your hours reduced.
- You are able and available for work. If you are unable to work because of medical condition or disability, you may not meet the NJ eligibility requirements, but you must apply anyway. In case you are not qualified for unemployment, you may be entitled to obtain disability benefits.
- You are registered for work at your Workforce Development Center. You should do this when you apply for unemployment, and every week whenever you certify your weekly claim.
- You have lost your job through no fault of your own. New Jersey also considers the reason for unemployment when deciding eligibility for benefits. Workers fired for misbehavior from previous employment may not be entitled for benefits depending on the severity of the incident. New Jersey categorizes misconduct into 3 types including severe, simple and gross. Workers in New Jersey who give up a job must have good cause to qualify for unemployment benefits.
- You also must be ready, willing to take on new work and must apply to a minimum of two jobs per week.
To keep on receiving weekly unemployment benefits, NJ unemployment requirements state that you must file a ‘weekly claim’ by doing the following:
- Meet all of the NJ unemployment requirements listed above.
- Apply for at least two jobs each week.
- Get in touch with the New Jersey unemployment office to file your ‘weekly claim’. You can do this via phone or online.
In New Jersey, workers must earn sufficient money during the base period to be eligible for unemployment benefits. The state requires workers to have been employed for at least 20 weeks in a covered position or have earned at least $7,300. Covered employment refers to services performed by a worker that is subject to the New Jersey unemployment compensation law.
According to the New Jersey DLWD, employees mustearn 1,000 times the state minimum wage of 7.25 an hour in a lesser period of time to apply for unemployment insurance since March 2011. To qualify, employees must achieve this requirement with atleast one employer and the wages must have been earned during a 52 week period which is called a base year.
The state employs a base period to decide the benefit amount as well as monetary eligibility. The base period is a 52-week period and depends on the date of your claim. It is normally the first 4 calendar quarters of the last 5 completed calendar quarters. You must have earned a minimum dollar figure for every week worked during this period. In 2010, this minimum sum was $145 per week. There are alternate plans that may come into effect if you did not meet this 20 week condition. The unemployment department will see the previous 18 months and make a decision about eligibility.
Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR)
Weekly benefit rate is the sum of compensation you collect per week. It is 60% of your average wage during your base year. There is a maximum total that may change each year. For 2011, this maximum is $598 per week. In case you do not obtain the maximum sum then it can be increased through dependency benefits.
Applicants obtaining a weekly benefit sum less than the maximum of $598 may receive added benefits for dependents. The state of New Jersey will pay an extra 7% of the benefit amount for the 1st dependent and 4% each for two more dependents. The claimant may not receive more than the maximum weekly benefit amount with dependents. You can collect 7% more for a 1st dependent and 4% more for each of the next two dependents. You must present proof of dependents within 6 weeks of starting the claim. If no evidence is provided, you will not collect any dependency benefits. For more information on dependency benefits check out our New Jersey Unemployment Insurance Weekly Benefits section.
Maximum Benefit Amount
The maximum benefit amount is the total sum of benefits a claimant may obtain. It is computed by multiplying the WBR by the number of weeks worked during the base period. This sum cannot go above 26 weeks. If you have returned to work earlier than reaching your maximum benefit amount but then you become laid off once more you may revive your claim only if a year has not lapsed since you started your original claim. In case more than a year has lapsed, you have to file a new claim. While receiving benefits you should be enthusiastically looking for work and make at least three employer contacts a week.
As part of New Jersey’s unemployment program, you may be needed to be present a re-employment orientation meeting. At this group you will get a presentation on accessible services and training opportunities. This comprises training in demand occupations, veteran benefits and career counseling. You will be allowed free use of equipment that will help you in your job search. In case you fail to be present at this meeting, you may have your benefits delayed or denied. This situation also applies to any listed meetings that you may have with employment analysts.
Claiming NJ Unemployment Benefits
New Jersey applicants file a claim once every 2 months for benefits. The claimant has to confirm that he is able and obtainable to work, looking for work and has not turned down any offer of employment during the claim week. Know more about making a claim in our New Jersey Unemployment Guide.