New Jersey unemployment beneficiaries may be concerned about supporting their families after the benefit period is over, especially during a bad economy. Some may even be asking “What can I do to extend unemployment?”
If unemployment is high in New Jersey, or even the nation, unemployment benefits may be extended for up to 99 additional weeks. Although this may come as a relief to some claimants, an unemployment benefits extension is only granted during these times.
This section will answer the question, “How can I extend unemployment?” with the following:
- Unemployment extensions in New Jersey
- How to apply for an unemployment extension in New Jersey
- Federal unemployment extension program in New Jersey
New Jersey Unemployment Resources
Unemployment Extensions in New Jersey
When a claimant’s unemployment benefit period is over, the application for benefits is automatically resubmitted for an extension. However, the criteria for extended benefit eligibility is considerably stricter than that of a regular benefits program. In addition, if granted an extension, the beneficiary’s job search is monitored more closely.
There are currently no unemployment compensation extensions available in the state of New Jersey.
New Unemployment Claim vs. Unemployment Extensions
Filing a new unemployment claim in NJ and requesting an extension of benefits are two separate processes. A new claim cannot be filed if the applicant has not worked since his or her initial benefits have been exhausted. The applicant must have received the amount of work hours and wages required to become qualified for a new claim. The same eligibility criteria that applied during the creation of the first claim still applies when applying for a new claim.
A new claim is not the same thing as an unemployment extension. An extension is a continuation of the first claim, and has its own eligibility requirements. Extensions are only given if the state and/or national unemployment reaches a certain threshold.
Types of Unemployment Extension Benefits
There are 3 types of unemployment benefits in New Jersey. They may be received in this order:
- State unemployment benefits
- Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)
- Extended Benefits (EB)
The length of a state unemployment benefits extension is contingent upon New Jersey’s employment rate over a period of 3 months:
- At 6.5 percent unemployment, benefits may be extended for 13 weeks.
- At 8 percent unemployment or greater, benefits may be extended for 20 weeks.
- The maximum extension period for state unemployment benefits is 26 weeks.
Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits are both federal unemployment extension programs. Federal unemployment benefit extensions are reserved for times of exceptionally high national unemployment. When federal unemployment extensions are activated, both EUC and EB are used as additional extensions for beneficiaries who have exhausted their state benefits.
There are currently no state or federal unemployment extension benefits available in the state of New Jersey.
How To Apply for an Unemployment Extension in New Jersey
To apply for an unemployment benefit extension, the applicant must have an initial claim for general unemployment benefits on file with the State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Petitioners may be eligible for an unemployment extension if the following criteria is met:
- Must NOT be qualified for a new claim.
- Must be unemployed.
- Must have worked for at least for at least 20 consecutive weeks and earned at least minimum wage before becoming unemployed OR earned 40 times the weekly benefit amount during the base period.
If an unemployment extension is granted, the beneficiary must continue to search for a job and send proof to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Job searches are monitored more strictly when a beneficiary is receiving extended benefits.
Generally, the petitioner can learn how to get an unemployment extension by notifying the agency that he or she is still unemployed after the 26 weeks of initial benefits are over The claimant may be granted several additional weeks of benefits. The agency will apply on the beneficiary’s behalf for each time their benefit period is over and the claimant is still unemployed.
If a claimant is eligible for an extension of benefits, benefits are given in this order:
- New Jersey UI Benefits: up to 26 weeks
- New Jersey UI Extension: up to 26 weeks
- Emergency Unemployment Compensation: up to 47 weeks
- Extended Benefits: up to 20 weeks
The maximum unemployment benefit extension is 99 weeks, not including general unemployment benefits.
The beneficiary must continue to actively search for a job and report to the agency on the status of his or her employment in order to remain eligible for extended unemployment benefits.
The Federal Unemployment Extension Program in New Jersey
Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits are federal unemployment benefits and are only available in times of high national unemployment. There are currently no federal unemployment extension programs available in New Jersey.
Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)
In the event of high national unemployment, Emergency Unemployment Compensation will grant an extension for up to 47 weeks. The maximum weekly benefit gradually decreases as a beneficiary becomes eligible for the next tier of benefits. Emergency Unemployment Compensation in NJ has 4 tiers.
Eligibility periods for EUC Tiers are organized as follows:
- Tier 1: 14 weeks
- Tier 2: 14 weeks
- Tier 3: 9 weeks
- Tier 4: 10 weeks
Note: Emergency Unemployment Compensation has expired in all states as of December 28, 2013.
Extended Benefits (EB)
Extended Benefits is a program that extends a claimant’s benefits after his or her EUC benefits have been exhausted. EB can only be received when New Jersey’s unemployment has remained 6 percent or higher over a 3 month period.
Note: Extended Benefits has expired in New Jersey as of June 16, 2012.