Your Guide to Unemployment Benefits in New Jersey During the COVID-19 Pandemic
A March 26 report by NorthJersey showed that a record number of people filed for unemployment insurance in New Jersey in the week that the government ordered “non-essential” businesses to close, and employers cut work hours for their workers to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
If you are a New Jerseyan who is out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible to get unemployment benefits.
Who Can Receive Unemployment Benefits in New Jersey?
According to New Jersey’s unemployment page, you can be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if you lost your job through no fault of your own. For example, your employer’s business closed due to the pandemic, or your work hours were reduced.
There are three requirements to apply for unemployment benefits in New Jersey:
- You must have worked only in the state of New Jersey or in New Jersey and other states in the last 18 months;
- You have worked in New Jersey and for the federal government in the last 18 months; or
- You served in the U.S. armed forces in the last 18 months and were physically present in New Jersey.
How Much in Unemployment Benefits Can I Earn?
The website of the Department of Labor provides a calculator to estimate how much in unemployment benefits you can get each week. In 2020, unemployment insurance can provide up to 60% of your average weekly wage, but no more than $713 a week.
However, thanks to the $2 trillion stimulus package – the so-called CARES Act, which was signed by President Donald Trump – workers can earn an additional $600 a week on top of the state’s unemployment benefits for four months.
Are Gig Workers or Freelancers Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?
While neither gig workers nor freelancers are typically eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in New Jersey, the federal stimulus package expands the unemployment compensation eligibility to:
- Self-employed individuals;
- Gig workers;
- Independent contractors; and
Other Benefits Available for Those Affected by the Pandemic
In addition to unemployment insurance benefits, New Jersey also offers sick leave, workers’ compensation, and family leave, among other benefits. Find out more about these benefits on New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub website.
What to Do if You Contracted COVID-19?
If you contracted the coronavirus anywhere but at work, you may be eligible for Temporary Disability Insurance benefits. If the COVID-19 infection is a work-related injury or illness (e.g., you contracted the virus when interacting with an infected customer or co-worker in the course of employment), you may be able to receive workers’ comp benefits.
What to Do if Someone in Your Family is Infected?
New Jersey law provides workers with up to six weeks of paid time off to care for their infected or sick family members. If you need to care for a family member who contracted the coronavirus, you can earn up to two-thirds of your regular paycheck, but no more than $667 a week. Starting July 2020, workers will get 12 weeks of paid time off while earning up to 85% of your weekly wages up to $881.
Discuss your eligibility for New Jersey’s unemployment insurance program with a Morristown workers’ compensation attorney. Contact The Law Offices of Michael Burakoff, P.A., to discuss your eligibility. Call at 973-455-1567 today.