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: Am I 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). If you were laid off due to the impacts of the coronavirus, you meet this requirement. 

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 January, February, or March 2021:
    • Basic base period: During the period from October 1, 2019- September 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 #1: During the period from January 1, 2020-December 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 #2: During the period from April 1, 2020 - date of claim in January, February or March 2021, you must have earned at least $10,000 or have made at least $200 per week in 20 or more weeks during that period.

It is possible that you still qualify under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) program. PUA allows workers who are generally ineligible to receive unemployment benefits, such as part-time workers, the opportunity to qualify for up to 57 weeks of benefits. PUA is available through March 14, 2021.

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: If you need a translator’s help to apply for unemployment, it is best to 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: I have successfully filed my unemployment, when will I receive my check? 
A:
 After your claim has been successfully filed, the NJ DOL needs to review and process the claim. NJ DOL estimates that this could take up to four weeks or longer. You need to continue to certify each week, even when you are waiting to receive your first check, so that you do not lose benefits.

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

9 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.



Extended Federal Supplement: The American Rescue Plan extends the $300 per week federal supplement to unemployment benefits until September 6, 2021. 

10 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. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment benefits have been extended to up to 92 weeks, depending on when you first filed a claim.

Any week in which you do not certify for unemployment benefits is not counted towards your number of total remaining weeks. For instance, if you are unemployed for 3 weeks, return to work for 4 weeks, and then you are laid off again, you would be entitled to another 89 weeks of unemployment benefits on the same unemployment claim.

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.

11 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)

12 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).

13 Q: Do I have to report to the Department of Labor that I am being paid out for my unused accrued paid time off (holidays, vacation, sick, and personal days)?

A: Receiving a payout for unused accrued vacation days is not considered “vacation pay” in the eyes of the NJ Department of Labor. However, if you previously scheduled vacation time for the week in which you are claiming benefits you must report those days to unemployment.

Similarly, receiving a payout for unused accrued holidays is not considered “holiday pay” by the NJ Department of Labor. 

14 Q: How will the new $300 per week federal supplement affect my severance pay?

A: The American Rescue Plan extends the $300 per week federal supplement to unemployment benefits until September 6, 2021. So, if you live in New Jersey and normally receive $731 per week in unemployment benefits, you would receive $1031 per week.

For those workers who are receiving severance in the form of weekly bridge payments, you will continue to receive the equivalent of your normal salary between bridge payments and unemployment benefits. Starting on January 1, 2021, you had the option to receive your normal salary plus an additional $443 per week, which can be used towards COBRA. The $300 a week unemployment supplement will decrease the weekly deduction from your severance bank by $300 and in turn, allow you to receive severance pay for an even longer period of time. If you already received lump sum severance pay or your severance pay has run out, you’ll simply receive the $300 supplement from unemployment in addition to any regular unemployment benefit.

New! 15 Q: How will I get my 1099 tax form if I’m on unemployment?
A: 
1099 tax forms will be emailed to the email address the NJ DOL has on file. The 1099 form will also be available through the Check Claim Status tool on the NJ DOL website by January 30th.

New! 16 QDo I have to pay taxes on my unemployment benefits?
A: 
Yes, unemployment benefits are taxable. However, under the American Rescue Plan, individuals who make less than $150,000 will not have to pay taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020.

New! 17 QWhat do I do if I already filed my tax return before learning about the $10,200 tax-free unemployment?
A: 
The IRS has advised that people who have already filed their 2020 taxes should not file an amended return. When we receive more information from the IRS, we will update our website on how to proceed.