Who is eligible for benefits?
When you first apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits, we look at a few different factors to see if you qualify.
Unemployment benefits are based on wage information from your employers in the last 18 months. If you live in NJ but only worked in other states, you should apply in a state where you physically worked.
We need to know why you're out of work, and whether your recent earnings meet the minimum required by law.
After you first qualify for benefits, you will need to meet some additional requirements in order to keep receiving them.
Some workers, like school employees and business owners, have their own unique qualifications. If you are self-employed and do not pay for Unemployment Insurance through your paycheck, you may not be eligible for benefits.
Read our FAQs on who is eligible for benefits here.
Unemployment Insurance benefits are meant for people who lose their job “through no fault of their own,” such as an employer’s lack of work or a layoff due to downsizing. If you voluntarily quit your job for reasons that were not work-related, or you were terminated for misconduct, your eligibility will need to be reviewed. A representative from our division (a claims examiner) will conduct a fact-finding interview by either phone or email to determine whether you are eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Your employer(s) may also be requested to participate. The claims examiner will review the facts that you and your employer(s) provide, and determine your eligibility based on the law.
If you were fired due to misconduct or you quit voluntarily, your benefits may be delayed or denied.
Read more about quitting or getting fired.
To receive benefits, you have to meet a minimum earnings requirement during your “base period.” The base period is the timeframe used to determine if you qualify for UI benefits and to calculate your benefit amount.
The regular base year period consists of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the week you file an initial claim.
Your regular base year period consists of 52 weeks and is determined by the date you apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits, as outlined in the chart below:
To be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits in 2024, you must have earned at least $283 per week during 20 or more weeks in covered employment during the base year period, or you must have earned at least $14,200 in total covered employment during the base year period.
To be eligible in 2023, you must have earned at least $260 per week during 20 or more weeks in covered employment during the base year period, or you must have earned at least $13,000 in total covered employment during the base year period.
The wages earned during your base year will determine the amount of weekly benefits you may receive, and the total amount you can claim in a given year.
For workers who don't qualify with a standard base year, we have other ways of calculating a base year. Click here for more information on these alternate base years, including if you are filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits after a period of disability.
If you have employment in between your base year period and your date of claim, it is called lag employment. The employer or employers you worked for during that time are called your lag employers.
If you work for a school as a teacher or staff member, your Unemployment Insurance claim will have distinct eligibility requirements. Click here to learn more.
If you are a federal employee, your Unemployment Insurance claim will have distinct eligibility requirements. Click here to learn more.
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.
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 employer approved leave of absence, you may be eligible for the Family Leave During Unemployment (FLDU) program.