Can I Restart Unemployment Benefits If I am Laid Off Again?

In April 2020, more than one million workers in New Jersey were unemployed due to COVID-19. Some employees were called back to work in late May and June as lockdown restrictions eased and the economy began to regain steam. Since that time, certain retailers have filed for bankruptcy and new outbreaks of the virus have prompted calls for renewed restrictions. Workers who find themselves laid off again should be able to restart their unemployment benefits if they meet certain qualifications.

Do I Qualify for Unemployment Benefits in New Jersey?

The following are certain eligibility requirements established by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI):

  • Patron must be out of work through no fault of their own. If a worker was fired due to misconduct or they quit voluntarily, all benefits may be delayed or denied. 
  • Patron must meet the minimum earning requirements during a base period. A regular base period consists of 52 weeks and is calculated according to the date the worker applied for unemployment.
  • Patron must meet additional eligibility requirements if they were a school employee, business owner, or corporate officer.

To be eligible for New Jersey Unemployment Insurance benefits in 2020, workers must have earned at least $10,000 in the base year period or at least $200 per week for 20 weeks.

How Long Do Benefits Last?

Under normal circumstances, laid off workers who meet the requirements may receive benefits for up to 26 weeks during a 52-week period. However, due to the pandemic, state and federal benefits have been extended as follows:

  • Federally mandated Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to all recipients.
  • New Jersey recently announced an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance, which commences after claimants exhaust the 26 weeks of state benefits and the 13 weeks of federal PEUC benefits.

In total, New Jersey workers may now be eligible for a maximum of 59 weeks of unemployment benefits. Also, New Jersey is making unemployment benefits available to independent contractors, freelancers, and gig workers during the COVID-19 emergency.

How can Laid Off Workers Re-Apply for Unemployment?

For workers who previously received unemployment, were called back to work, then laid off again, re-applying for unemployment is simply a matter of going online and re-opening their existing claim. However, they must meet the following requirements:

  • They have not yet exhausted their original 26 weeks of benefits
  • Their original claim was filed within the last 52 weeks

Workers who initially applied for unemployment over a year ago may need to open a new claim. Those who exhausted their original 26 weeks of benefits should receive notice from the New Jersey Department of Labor regarding payment of PEUC benefits. There are certain requirements that must be met in order to keep receiving benefits, however. Claimants must be able to work and demonstrate that they are actively seeking work. They must also keep scheduled phone or online appointments with the New Jersey Department of Labor or face a potential denial of benefit payments.

What Information is Needed to Open or Re-Open an Unemployment Claim?

Most claims can be done online. It is helpful to have the following information on hand that will be needed to open or re-open a claim:

  • Social Security number
  • Personal identification number (PIN)
  • Driver’s license
  • Complete mailing address with zip code
  • Contact number
  • Names and contact details of previous employers
  • Employer Registration Number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of most recent employer

Federal employees may need copies of forms SF8 and SF50. Workers have the right to file an appeal if their claims are denied.

South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Represent Workers Seeking Qualified Legal Counsel

For more than 20 years, the South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC have represented individuals seeking legal help with workplace issues, including discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. If you or someone you know is seeking assistance with an employment matter, contact us online or call us at 856-235-7075 today for a free consultation. From our offices in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we provide qualified legal counsel to workers throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.