Understanding Unemployment Benefits
*COVID-19 Announcement: Effective March 16, 2020, all in-person unemployment insurance services at One-Stop Career Centers are temporarily suspended. Customers needing to file for unemployment insurance are urged to apply online at MyUnemployment.nj.gov. If you are unable to access the internet, please call: North Jersey: 201-601-4100; Central Jersey: 732-761-2020; Southern Jersey: 856-507-2340
So, you have lost your job or learned that you soon will. Here are some first steps to take when you learn that you are going to be laid off:
- Speak with the company human resource director and make sure your records of accrued vacation days and holidays coincide with theirs. Take the time to discuss severance (a benefits package that many companies provide to compensate loyal employees for their many years of service.)
- Contact the unemployment office that serves your area and learn how to file an unemployment claim so that you will be ready to do so when you become unemployed. This is an insurance policy that you have been contributing to throughout your employment and the money you receive in benefits will help you pay the bills while you look for another job.
- If your employer provided healthcare coverage, learn about COBRA benefits so that you can maintain your health insurance without interruption
Filing an Unemployment Claim
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development does not charge a fee to file an unemployment claim. Anyone who visits a website that charges a fee for processing an unemployment claim should immediately exit that site before providing any confidential information.
Before unemployment benefits can be paid to you, you must file a claim. You are not permitted to file a claim until you are unemployed. You may file your new unemployment claim, or reopen an existing claim, via the Internet if you meet all the following requirements:
- Worked only in New Jersey in the last 18 months, or
- Worked in New Jersey and any other state(s) in the last 18 months, or
- Worked for the federal government and in New Jersey in the last 18 months, or
- Served in the military in the last 18 months and are physically present in New Jersey.
Filing an Online Claim
To file your online claim, you will need the following information:
- Your Social Security Number
- Alien Registration Number (if you are not a US citizen).
- Your NJ driver’s license or NJ non-driver identification number.
- Pension information (if you are receiving any pension or 401k).
- Amount and duration of any separation pay you may be receiving.
- Recall date (if you expect to be recalled to your job).
- Union hiring hall information, including local number and address (if you get work through a union).
- Military Form DD-214 (if you were in the military in the last 18 months).
- Form SF-8 or SF-50 (if you were a federal employee).
- Your bank account number and routing number (if you plan to get your benefits through direct deposit).
- For each employer that you worked for in the last 18 months, provide the following:
- Complete name, address, and phone number of employer
- Your occupation with that employer
- Beginning and ending dates of employment
- Reason for separation
If you meet these requirements, and you wish to file your unemployment claim via the Internet, you may do so here. The information you submit is confidential and the website is secure. Please note that this site should only be used for filing a new unemployment claim, reopening an existing one or claiming weekly benefits. It cannot be used to contact the agency. If you have a question about your claim or about unemployment insurance, click here.
Claims Inquiry Center
If you do not wish to file your claim via the Internet, or if you have specific questions you may call your Claims Inquiry Center from Monday through Friday, excluding holidays between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. Your claim will be dated the Sunday of the week in which you call so make sure you call during the week you want your claim to begin. The week runs Sunday to Saturday.
Once your unemployment claim has been accepted, you will receive regular benefits. The amount of unemployment benefits you may receive each week is your Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR). The amount will be 60% of the average weekly earnings during your base year period, up to a maximum amount. The maximum amount may change each year.
Program guidelines and benefits may change. The most current information about NJ unemployment guidelines and benefits is available here.
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