Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

General Benefits Eligibility Criteria

New Jersey unemployment benefits eligibility criteria are the guidelines created by the New Jersey Department Of Labor and Workforce Development to decide who qualifies for unemployment and who doesn't. There are two specific types of criteria: work and wages. These will differ on a state-by-state and yearly basis, but the information included below is the most recent.

If you feel like you are on the fringe of these criteria or are simply uncertain if you meet them, file for unemployment anyway. This is usually the quickest and easiest way to check if you qualify.

Work Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for unemployment in New Jersey, you must meet the following work-related criteria:

  • Worked at least 20 base weeks or
  • Earned at least $8,400 and
  • Meet the minimum base week amount of $168

However, if your employer did not have unemployment insurance, you might not be eligible. Employers who don't pay unemployment insurance include:

  • Family businesses that only hire their relatives
  • Church-related businesses
  • Many charity organizations

Wages Eligibility Criteria

In New Jersey, you must make at least $8,400 in a one-year period in the last 18 months in order to claim unemployment benefits. This is verified through several ways. There are two potential base years. The first is simply the calendar year, from January 1 to December 31. If you do not qualify based on that criteria, the last four quarters of the previous 18 months will be checked. This is 12 months, but may not be a traditional calendar year.

Unemployed? We want to help.

Unemployment Availability Limits

As in most states, your unemployment benefits will stop the moment you find full-time work. However, you can find part-time work and still receive benefits. Your benefits will be decreased, though, based on the “Partial Benefit Rate.”

This rate is set 20 percent higher than your weekly benefit rate. Any wages you report when you make your weekly claim (discussed in more detail below) will then be subtracted from your Partial Benefit Rate to come up with your new benefit rate.

EXAMPLE: If your weekly benefits are set at $300, your Partial Benefit Rate will be $360 (300 x 0.20 = 60 and 60+300 = 360). Then, if you made $150 in part-time wages that week, you would subtract that from $360 to get $110.

Unemployment Extensions

Although unemployment extensions were offered federally in New Jersey during the recent economic recession, the economy has sufficiently recovered to the point that the federal government no longer offers extended unemployment benefits. However, New Jersey remains one of the few states in the country to not drastically decrease its unemployment benefits.