New Jersey Unemployment Tips

NEW: Help with unemployment for non-union hotel workers too - For weeks, we have been helping our members apply for unemployment and troubleshooting issues they have been encountering. We now have the capacity to provide similar assistance to non-union hotel workers as well. As the organization of hotel and gaming workers in New York and New Jersey, in addition to protecting our own members, we intend to do what we can to try to alleviate the hardships and dangers non-union workers in our industry are experiencing during these difficult days. If you would like help applying for unemployment, please fill out this survey and a Union staff person will give you a call. We will keep your identity confidential.

1 Q: Where do I apply for unemployment?
A: In general, you should apply for unemployment in the same state in which you work. So even if you live in New York, if you work in New Jersey, you should apply in New Jersey.

To create an account to apply for unemployment online go to: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/before/createaccount/index.shtml

  • North New Jersey Reemployment Call Center (201) 601-4100
  • Central New Jersey Reemployment Call Center (732) 761-2020
  • South New Jersey Reemployment Call Center (856) 507-2340
  • Out-of-State Claims: (888) 795-6672 (you must call this number if you call from a phone with an out-of-state area code, even if you live in New Jersey)

During the coronavirus crisis, record numbers of people have applied for unemployment benefits, which has led to a number of technical issues as states try to process a huge increase in weekly claims. We want to know how many hotel and gaming workers who work in New Jersey are having trouble getting their unemployment benefits processed. We will attempt to use the information we are getting from you to communicate with the state so that they can continue to make improvements. Please come back and fill out this survey to let us know if you were able or not to get through and file your unemployment claim: NJ Unemployment Link and Union Survey.

2 Q: Can I apply for unemployment if I have been temporarily laid-off?
A: Yes, you can and it is crucial that you apply as soon as (but not before) you are laid-off. If you apply before you are laid off (even if you know you will be laid-off), they will very likely reject your application and that will delay when you can start collecting your benefit.

3 Q: Can I apply for unemployment, and how do I know I’m eligible for unemployment in New Jersey?
A: To be eligible, you must meet the following two requirements:

First, your employment must not have ended for cause (like being fired for misconduct on your part). So, in this case, you all meet this requirement, because layoffs are occurring due to Coronavirus, and not something you did wrong.

The second requirement is more complicated and depends on when and how much you worked in New Jersey and what your earnings were. Generally, to qualify for benefits:

  • You need to have worked in jobs covered by unemployment insurance in New Jersey at any point in the past 18 months, and also need to have made a minimum amount of money during either a “basic base year period” or one of two “alternate base year periods”.
  • If you are applying in July, August, or September 2020:
    • Basic base period: During the period from April 1, 2019-March 31, 2020, you must have earned at least $10,000 or have made at least $200 per week in 20 or more weeks during that period.
    • Alternate base period #1: During the period from July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020, you must have earned at least $10,000 or have made at least $200 per week in 20 or more weeks during that period.
    • Alternate base period #2: During the period from October 1, 2019 - date of claim in July, August or September 2020, you must have earned at least $10,000 or have made at least $200 per week in 20 or more weeks during that period.

4 Q: What information do I need to have when I apply for unemployment?
A: Make sure you have the following information when you apply (either online or over the phone):

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Recall date (if you have one),
  • Complete name and address of each employer that you’ve worked for in the past 18 months (even if the job was outside of New Jersey) .
  • Telephone number of each employer that you’ve worked for in the past 18 months
  • Your occupation with each employer that you’ve worked for in the past 18 months
  • Beginning and ending dates of employment
  • Reason for separation

5 Q: How should I respond if unemployment asks why I’m not working?
A: Since you are being laid off, the correct answer is “lack of work.” If you mistakenly give a different answer, your unemployment benefits may be denied.



6 Q: What if I need a translator’s help to apply for unemployment?


A: Then you should probably apply on the phone, with the help of someone you know who can translate for you. If you need translation help to apply, we will try to help you. You should call (212) 245-8100, and press option 3 and leave a message.




7 Q: How frequently will I receive my unemployment benefits?
A: Every week you “certify” to unemployment that you are at least partially unemployed.



8 Q: How much money will I receive in weekly unemployment benefits?
A:
The amount of money you receive in unemployment benefits is based on how much you were earning while you were working. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will calculate your weekly benefit amount.


Before you apply, you can use an online calculator on the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s website to get an estimate of how much in benefits you will receive each week.



9 Q: How long can I continue to receive unemployment benefits?
A: Under normal circumstances, assuming you’re eligible, you are entitled to a total of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits over a period of 1 year from the date of your claim. Given the financial hardship that many Americans are facing, on March 27, 2020, the Federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or “CARES Act” which extends unemployment insurance by 13 more weeks through December 31, 2020. On July 1, 2020, New Jersey authorized up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits to workers who have exhausted both their regular 26 weeks and their 13-week extension under the CARES Act. This will allow you to collect unemployment benefits for a total of up to 59 weeks in New Jersey.

Theoretically, if you are unemployed for 3 weeks and you go back to work for 4 weeks and then you are unemployed again, you would be entitled to another 56 weeks of unemployment benefits on the same unemployment claim. If you have already collected unemployment during the one year time period that will count against the 59 weeks that you’re entitled to.  

If you have filed for unemployment at any point during the last year, your claim should still be valid. You should only need to start certifying for benefits again, you don’t have to file a new claim. 

If you remain unemployed after the expiration of the year, and had sufficient employment over that year, you may qualify to file a new claim.

10 Q: What do I need to do to continue receiving unemployment insurance benefits?
A: To continue receiving unemployment, you need to certify for your benefits each week online or by phone by using the account you created when you filed your claim, as well as a PIN that you create when you first certify and your Social Security Number. This is very important. You must “certify” each week (or every 2 weeks if claiming by phone) in order to demonstrate that you are still unemployed. Certifying is essentially claiming your unemployment benefits. If you fail to certify each week, you will not receive benefits for that week.

New Jersey has created a schedule for certifying for unemployment weekly, based on the last 4 digits of your social security number. The windows are limited to 1 hour, 1 day a week. Please check the schedule carefully on the State’s website

You can certify for your benefits weekly by phone at the numbers listed below, depending on where you live in New Jersey or if you live out of state.

  • North New Jersey Reemployment Call Center (201) 601-4100
  • Central New Jersey Reemployment Call Center (732) 761-2020
  • South New Jersey Reemployment Call Center (856) 507-2340
  • Out-of-State Claims: (888) 795-6672 (you must call this number if you call from a phone with an out-of-state area code, even if you live in New Jersey)

11 Q: What if I get called back to work part-time for some weeks while I’m collecting unemployment?

A: If you are called back to work part-time and you make 20% or less of your weekly benefit amount (for example, you make less than $100 if you receive $500 from unemployment each week), you will not have your benefits reduced. If you make more than 20% of your regular rate, New Jersey calculates a partial weekly benefit rate that is 20% more than your regular rate and reduces your benefit dollar by dollar from there. So for example, if you normally receive $500 a week from unemployment, New Jersey would calculate your partial weekly benefit rate to be $600 ($500 + 20%). If you return to work part-time and make $200 in a week, you will receive $400 in benefits ($200 less than your partial weekly benefit rate of $600).

12 Q: How does the new federal stimulus (the “CARES" Act) affect my unemployment?
A: On March 27, 2020, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or “CARES Act,” that expands who can collect unemployment and increases unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Under the Act:

  • Unemployment Insurance (UI) is extended by 13 weeks for a total of 39 weeks in New York and New Jersey, available through December 31, 2020; and
  • The CARES Act provided $600/week in emergency supplemental unemployment benefits. This provision expired at the end of July.

UPDATE: On July 1, 2020 unemployment benefits were extended by New Jersey for up to 20 additional weeks for workers who have exhausted both their regular 26 weeks and their 13-week extension of traditional unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. This will allow you to collect unemployment benefits for a total of up to 59 weeks in New Jersey.

13 Q: If I work part-time, am I still eligible for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act? 
A: Yes, part-time employees are eligible.

14 Q: What do I have to do to receive these enhanced benefits?
A: If you have already filed and are receiving unemployment, you don’t have to do anything. Your benefits will automatically be extended by 13 weeks under the CARES Act and after you have exhausted those 13 weeks, extended up to 20 weeks by the State of New Jersey for a maximum of 59 weeks.

If you have not filed for unemployment, you must file for unemployment through the the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. (See Question 1)

For more information you can visit: https://myunemployment.nj.gov

New!15 Q: Is the federal government going to extend supplemental unemployment benefits?

A: The $600 supplement to unemployment provided by the CARES act expired on July 31, 2020. While the US House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act in May, which would extend the $600 supplement until January 31, 2021, the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to bring the HEROES Act to a vote.

On August 8, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order allocating up to $44 billion of federal funding to provide supplemental unemployment benefits of up to $400 a week, with $300 coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and $100 coming from the states.

Because of budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most states, including New Jersey, said they could not afford to pay $100 a week in supplemental benefits and did not apply for the benefit at first. On August 12, the federal government altered the requirement that states allocate additional funds to pay 25% of the benefit (or $100 a week), and New Jersey applied for the program. On September 4, 2020, New Jersey was approved for the program.

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development says that it plans to pay the supplemental benefits in a one-time lump-sum payment, which would cover six weeks – the weeks ending August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22, August 29, and September 5, 2020. Because of the difficulty in implementing this entirely new program at the state level, New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angel stated that these payments will most likely not reach workers receiving unemployment benefits until October at the earliest. FEMA has announced that it will not grant additional weeks of supplemental benefits beyond the six weeks approved.

New!16 Q: When will I receive my $300 a week supplemental unemployment benefits? And do I need to do anything to qualify?

A: The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced that the state will issue a total of six weeks of supplemental unemployment benefits to eligible workers. The state has said that eligible workers will be contacted once a process is in place to disburse the payments, which is expected to be ready during the month of October.

New!17 Q: For how long will I receive $300 a week supplemental unemployment benefits?
A: FEMA has now approved New Jersey’s application for the Lost Wages Assistance Program for a total of six weeks, retroactive to the beginning of August. Supplemental benefits of $300 a week will be paid for the weeks ending August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22, August 29, and September 5, 2020. The benefits will be issued as a single lump sum payment.