FAQ: Who is eligible for benefits?
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about who is (or isn't) eligible for New Jersey Unemployment Insurance benefits, and why.
In order to receive benefits, and continue to get them each week you, must also be:
- able to work
- actively seeking work
- available for work, and
- not refuse an offer of suitable work
In short, you must be looking for a new job, and in a position to accept a job offer when it comes. If you won't be able to work because you have to care for family members or you are physically unable to accept work, you may not be eligible to receive benefits.
To certify for weekly benefits, click here.
You must also keep your appointments with us. If you are scheduled for an in-person meeting or interview, you must show up that day at the scheduled time. If you are scheduled for an interview by phone, we will make every effort to call at the pre-arranged time. Since an unexpected delay may occur, you must be available for 2 hours after the scheduled appointment time. If you miss an appointment, you may be denied your benefit payment for that week.
It is important that we have your current phone number. If your phone number changes, update your information right away.
In some cases, you may be eligible to enroll in an unpaid training program while collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits. Click here to learn more.
You must be physically and mentally able to accept work to receive Unemployment benefits. If you become unable to work due to an illness, injury, pregnancy, or another physical or mental health condition, more than 14 days after your last day of work in covered employment, you may be eligible for benefits under the Disability During Unemployment (DDU) program. You do not need to notify the Division of Unemployment Insurance that you are no longer collecting Unemployment benefits; simply stop certifying for weekly benefits. Once you stop certifying for Unemployment, complete an application for Temporary Disability Insurance and submit it. After your doctor says you are recovered and able to look for work again, you can reopen your Unemployment Insurance claim.
If you need to bond with a newborn or newly adopted or fostered child, or care for a loved one more than 14 days after your last day of work in covered employment and you are not on an approved leave of absence from your employer, you may be eligible for benefits under the Family Leave During Unemployment (FLDU) program. You do not need to notify the Division of Unemployment Insurance that you are no longer collecting Unemployment benefits; simply stop certifying for weekly benefits. Once you stop certifying, complete an application for Family Leave Insurance and submit it.
You must make an effort to secure employment for each week of benefits that you claim, and show proof of your job search. Contacting employers each week by phone, mail, Internet or in person is considered a reasonable effort. You may be asked to furnish work search contacts with prospective employers at any time during the life of your claim. Click here for a worksheet you can use to keep a record of your work search.
Being available for work means that you must be ready to start work immediately. You must have access to transportation (car, bus, train, etc.) which would allow you to begin a job right away. Also, you must have no personal reasons preventing you from working. You will not receive benefits during any week in which you are unavailable for work. For instance, if you are on vacation or traveling for a week or more, you won't be able to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits during that time.
If a suitable job is offered to you, you must accept it. If you refuse the job, you may be denied benefits for the week in which you refuse the job and for the next three weeks. Because people's experience and circumstances are different, the definition of a "suitable job" varies. It depends on your skills, where you live, and your past salary. While you are unemployed, you will look for a job similar to your last job in terms of commute, job duties, and salary. The longer you stay unemployed, the more flexible you'll have to be in terms of accepting a new job. For example, you may have to travel a greater distance, accept a different type of job, or start at a lower salary.
The Department will consider the following factors, judged with respect to the particular claimant, when determining whether work is considered “suitable:”
- the risk to the claimant’s health, safety, and morals;
- the claimant’s physical fitness and prior training;
- the claimant’s experience, prior earnings, and prior benefits;
- with respect to wages, the Department will consider work to be suitable where it pays at least 80% of the claimant’s average weekly wage (including the value of benefits) during the past year
- the claimant’s length of unemployment;
- the claimant’s prospects for finding work in his/her usual field; and,
- commuting distance.
Because each person is not the same and has different circumstances, the definition of a "Suitable Job" is fitted to each person, depending on where they live, their skills, experience and past salary. While you are unemployed, you will look for a job similar to your last job (distance traveled, job duties and salary). As you remain unemployed, you will be expected to revise your minimum job requirements. For example, you may have to travel a greater distance, accept a different type of job or accept a lower starting salary.
If your unemployment is due to a labor dispute (strike or lockout) at your employer's premises that resulted in a work stoppage, you may be disqualified for benefits.
If it appears you are participating in a labor dispute, you must continue to claim your benefits by phone or on the Internet while we determine your eligibility. The decision is made by the labor dispute officer in the Division of Unemployment Insurance after your employer and union give us the required information.