How Long Can You Collect Unemployment in NJ?

The length of time you will be able to collect unemployment benefits in New Jersey depends on several factors. First, you must have been working in a regular job for at least 20 weeks, and then you must have lost that job through no fault of your own. These are the two basic criteria for you to be eligible for state unemployment benefits in New Jersey.

And New Jersey is among the majority of states in which workers are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from the a state-funded unemployment compensation program. However, you don’t automatically qualify for 26 weeks of unemployment benefits because it depends on how many weeks you’ve worked in a, “base-year period.”

There are a couple alternate methods of calculating the base-year period on which your unemployment benefits will be calculated, but the primary method, as stated by the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development is:

“The regular base-year period of any claim consists of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters preceding the date of the claim. When a claimant files an unemployment claim, the weeks and wages in the base-year period are counted to determine eligibility.”

As regards the amount of unemployment benefits you’ll be entitled to collect, it will be 60% of the average weekly earnings during your base-year period. Dependency benefits are also available under certain circumstances.

Are There Any Extensions Available?

There are no extensions available on the calculation of annual unemployment benefits.

However, unemployment claims in New Jersey are in effect for approximately one year from the date of the claim. A worker who goes back to work before collecting all the benefits in his or her annual claim, and then once again becomes unemployed before the end of the annual period, can reopen a claim. But once an annual benefit year comes to an end, any remaining unemployment benefits expire. A new claim for unemployment benefits would need to be filed in order to collect again.

If you are a bit confused because you’ve heard other people talk about receiving unemployment benefits for much longer than the present maximum of twenty-six weeks, remember there was formerly a Federal program providing emergency unemployment compensation which expired in December of 2013. Many people benefitted from that Federal program in the past, but it is no longer available.

What is Required of You

You are required to file for unemployment benefits on your own behalf. No employer will be filing for you. And there is no fee for applying for unemployment benefits. You can file online if you meet ALL of the following requirements:

– All of your work was in New Jersey in the past 18 months;
– You did not work for the federal government in the past 18 months;
– You did not serve in the military in the past 18 months;
– You did not work as a maritime employee in the past 18 months;
– You do not currently reside outside the United States.

Unemployed New Jersey workers who do NOT meet all the requirements listed above are required to file by phone. Make sure you have all the documents needed to answer questions when you call.

Talking to an employment law attorney can help you understand all your unemployment benefits and make the most of them while you qualify.

John J. Zidziunas & Associates will provide you with expert help in your New Jersey employment law matters, advising you and representing you in court. Contact us for a 30 minute consultation at no charge, by email or by calling 973-509-8500.

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