This glossary contains terms that are commonly used in New Jersey unemployment insurance benefit communications and notices. In some cases, the definitions below include links to other website pages or references that provide more detail.
Please seek the advice of an attorney if you need legal assistance. If you cannot afford an attorney, there are resources for low-income claimants.
Able (to work)
Able to work means that a claimant is physically and mentally capable of employment. If someone cannot work due to illness, injury, pregnancy or another physical or mental health condition, they are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits until they recover and are able to work. A person who is not able to work may be eligible for other assistance, including temporary disability and family leave programs. A claimant who becomes disabled while on unemployment may be eligible for Disability During Unemployment.
Active search for work
A claimant must search for work in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Contacting employers each week by phone, mail, internet or in person is considered a reasonable effort. Claimants may be asked to show proof of their job search efforts at any time during the life of the claim. Download a worksheet that can be used to keep track of your search for work.
An adjournment is when a hearing is postponed/moved to a later date. This may happen because there was not enough time to take all testimony or because a critical witness was not present, for example. Adjournments may be issued by the examiner, or granted based upon the request of the claimant or employer. Requests for adjournments are reviewed on case-by-case basis and are typically only granted in exceptional circumstances.
Alternate base year periods
If a claimant does not have sufficient earnings during their regular base year, an alternative time period may be used to calculate unemployment benefits. For more information about alternative base year periods, click here.
If a claimant or employer disagrees with a decision, they can apply to a higher authority and ask that the decision be reversed or changed/modified. Appeals must be filed within a specific time frame, so it’s important that you follow the appeal instructions that come with your decision notices. If an appeal is filed late, it will be dismissed, unless you can show good cause for the late appeal.
When a claimant or employer disagrees with some or all of a written determination/decision by the Division of Unemployment, they can appeal that decision to a higher authority. The Appellant is the party who is requesting that the higher authority review and change the decision.
The Appeal Tribunal decides disputes about eligibility for unemployment (and some temporary disability) insurance benefits. If a claimant or employer disagrees with the initial benefit determination they may appeal to the Appeal Tribunal, where a hearing on the matter will be held and evidence and testimony taken.
Available (for work)
A claimant must be available for work in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. This means that they must be ready to start work immediately and have access to things such as transportation and childcare.
Average weekly wage
A claimant’s average weekly wage is generally the total wages earned in their base period, divided by the number of base weeks worked. The average weekly wage is used to help calculate the amount a claimant will receive in weekly unemployment benefits.
Payment provided by an employer voluntarily or from resolution of an employment dispute. This payment may cover some or all of the weeks the employee was out of work for that employer. If a claimant receives backpay for the same period they received unemployment benefits, they will have to repay some or all of the unemployment benefits they received.
Base period/Base year
The base period is the timeframe used to determine a claimant’s eligibility for UI benefits and to calculate their benefit amount and is determined using the date of claim.
A base week is used to calculate the amount of unemployment insurance benefits a claimant may be entitled to. A base week is equal to 20 times the state hourly minimum wage on October 1 of the prior calendar year. These are the most current rates.
Benefit year end
Unemployment claims remain valid for one year from the date the claim is filed, unless the claimant receives all of their benefits sooner. Federal law requires a review for new wages after one year. In New Jersey, the Division will automatically review your claim at the end of the benefit year to see if a new claim can be established – claimants do not need to take action.
Board of Review
If you don’t agree with a determination made by the Appeal Tribunal you can appeal to the Board of Review. The Board of Review is the highest level of review for hearing and deciding benefit disputes within the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. If you don’t agree with a decision by the Board of Review, you must appeal it to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.
Certify for benefits
The weekly or biweekly process by which a claimant lets the Division of Unemployment Insurance know that they are still unemployed and are actively seeking work, and continue to meet all other requirements for claiming unemployment insurance benefits. Claimants will only receive payments for the weeks for which they certify and are found eligible. Claimants may certify for benefits online or by phone by calling the call center. Note that if your benefits are being held pending the outcome of an appeal, you should continue to certify each week that you are seeking benefits. If you win your appeal, you will receive the benefits for which you have pended credit.
An unemployed worker who has filed a claim for unemployment insurance benefits.
A sum of money paid to an employee upon completion of a task, usually selling goods or services. A commission may be a percentage of the sales amount paid to an employee, or it may be paid in addition to or instead of a salary. Depending upon the circumstances, pay from commissions may or may not impact unemployment benefits.
Connected to the work
Connected to the work is a standard that is applied in the adjudication of misconduct disqualifications. The conduct for which a claimant is terminated must be “connected to the work” for there to be a disqualification for purposes of unemployment insurance. Connected to the work includes issues that may occur during regular working hours as well as conduct that occurs outside of working hours or off the employer’s premises where there is substantial evidence that the conduct adversely impacts the employer or the claimant’s ability to perform their job duties. NJAC 12:17-2.1
This occurs when a claimant is technically separated from employment on a date in the future (often based on a contract) and is receiving salary or benefits regularly until that date. A claimant cannot receive their full wages and unemployment benefits at the same time. Therefore, a claimant is not considered to be unemployed if they are receiving full continuation pay. The different types of separation pay can be confusing - it is always best to file a claim for unemployment benefits immediately, report any separation pay you are receiving and let the Division of Unemployment Insurance advise you.
An officer of a corporation, or owner with more than a 5% equitable or debt interest in the corporation. If you are a Corporate Officer and your unemployment claim is based on wages with the corporation, you will not be considered unemployed during your term of office or ownership, unless you can establish a valid claim based on other non-corporate employment. Since you are not considered unemployed, your claim will be considered invalid and you will not receive benefit payments. Note that a corporation continues to exist and is considered viable unless it has been officially dissolved or has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Claimants must work in “covered employment” in order to establish a monetary claim for unemployment benefits. Independent contractors, for example, work for themselves and may not be considered to have covered employment. Additionally, some religious institutions may not serve as covered employment. Workers are sometimes misclassified by their employers, so it is always best to file a claim for unemployment benefits immediately and the Division of Unemployment Insurance advise you.
Date of claim
The date of claim is the Sunday at the start of the week in which the initial claim for unemployment insurance benefits is filed. Unemployment Insurance benefits are paid for a 7-day week beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday.
Additional payments a claimant may be entitled to if they meet the eligibility requirements for this benefit. Dependency benefits may increase basic weekly unemployment benefits by 7% for the first dependent, and an additional 4% for each of the next 2 dependents, for a combined maximum of up to a 15% increase in benefit payments. In no event, however, can a claimant’s benefit rate exceed the maximum weekly benefit rate. Claimants must apply and submit verification to support a request for dependency benefits within 6 weeks of the date of their underlying unemployment claim, or within 8 weeks if they have an interstate claim.
An unemployed spouse or civil union partner, or an unemployed, unmarried child under the age of 19 (22 if the child is still in school full-time). Learn more about dependency benefits.
A decision about whether a claimant is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
One of two ways a claimant can choose to receive unemployment benefit payments. With direct deposit, the money will go directly into a bank account authorized by the claimant.
Disability During Unemployment
A claimant must be physically and mentally able to accept work to receive Unemployment benefits. 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 become disabled while unemployed, you should file a claim with the Division of Temporary Disability Insurance. You should file for Disability During Unemployment within 30 days of the disability. NJAC 12:17-17.1
A separation that is initiated by an employer for a reason other than they have no more work. A claimant may be discharged, for example, for lateness, poor performance or failure to meet deadlines or quotas. If a discharge relates to misconduct connected with the work, a claimant may be subject to a period of disqualification.
A disqualification from unemployment occurs when a claimant has been discharged for misconduct, voluntarily quit their job without good cause attributable to the work or refused suitable work. NOT ALL DISQUALIFICATIONS ARE INDEFINITE. For example, if a claimant is found to have been terminated for misconduct, there is a six-week disqualification period, after which they can reopen their claim and begin to receive benefits. Learn more about misconduct and voluntary quit and refusing suitable work.
A claimant who quits their job or is discharged because of domestic or sexual violence should be eligible for unemployment benefits.
If we have questions about a claim, we will contact you to gather additional information. If we have an email address on file, the information is collected via email (e-adjudication). If the Division does not have an email address on file, a telephone fact-finding hearing will be scheduled.
Evidence is something submitted to a tribunal that is used to ascertain the truth of the matter. Evidence can be submitted in the form of documents, such as manuals, e-mail exchanges, contracts, audio or video recordings, and verbal testimony by the parties. All evidence used to make a determination must be made part of the record.
If we have questions about a claim, we will contact you by phone, email or mail to gather additional information. This is called a fact-finding interview and the information gathered will be used to make a determination about the benefit claim. During the interview, you will be provided with the opportunity to rebut or confirm information NJDOL has about the claim. You may attend the interview by yourself or be represented by an attorney or non-attorney at your expense. A written determination will be issued after the fact-finding with an opportunity to appeal an adverse finding. NJAC 12:17-13.1 and 13.2
Claiming or accepting unemployment insurance benefits illegally. Working and collecting unemployment without reporting your earnings is fraud. Fraud is a crime and will be prosecuted. It carries a one-year benefit disqualification and requires repayment of the unemployment compensation paid plus fines and interest.
Good cause is a standard that may be applied to extend time frames for filing, appealing determinations, reporting requirements or reopening cases. Good cause is found where a party’s situation is substantial and is beyond the claimant’s control such that it prevents them from meeting the required timeframe. Good cause is assessed and applied on a case-by-case basis. NJAC 12:17-4.1
Good cause attributable to the work
"Good cause attributable to the work" is used when adjudicating cases related to a voluntary quit. Claimants are disqualified from unemployment if they voluntarily leave their job (“quit”) unless they can show that the quit was for “good cause attributable to the work.” This means that the reason for leaving is directly related to the job and is so compelling that the claimant had no choice but to leave the job. An example of good cause attributable to the work is where a claimant can show harassment, discrimination or unsafe, unhealthful, or dangerous working conditions, that were so intolerable that they had no choice but to leave the employment. If you leave your job for personal reasons – for example, to take care of a sick relative – your reason for quitting is not connected with the work.
The burden of proof is on the claimant to prove that they quit for good cause attributable to the work.
The total amount paid to a worker, before any taxes or deductions are taken out. A claimant who is working part-time and collecting unemployment benefits must report any gross earnings on their weekly certification.
Gross misconduct means that the claimant committed an act punishable as a crime of the first, second, third, or fourth degree under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, NJSA 2C:1-1. Gross misconduct disqualifies a claimant from unemployment benefits, until the claimant becomes reemployed, establishes a valid claim and has worked a minimum of eight weeks in employment and has earned at least 10 times their weekly benefit rate in their new employment. Wages earned from the disqualifying employer cannot be used to establish a claim for unemployment benefits.
The burden is on the employer to prove that there is misconduct; they are required to provide written documentation demonstrating that the claimant’s actions constitute misconduct or gross misconduct. NJAC 12:17-10.1
A hearing provides the opportunity for claimants and employers to present evidence, ask questions of witnesses and explain their side of the story. In New Jersey Unemployment cases, the hearing is held before the Appeal Tribunal. The Appeal Tribunal gathers information at this stage to make a decision about the appeal. You have the right to represent yourself, hire an attorney to represent you at your own expense, or authorize a friend or family member to assist you. Unemployment hearings, while less formal than a state court trial, still follow a basic structure to ensure fairness and due process of law. All testimony is under oath and recorded.
Hearsay is second-hand evidence, as opposed to original evidence. Hearsay refers to statements made by the individual presenting testimony states that they heard another person say. It also refers to a report or rumor as to what a person said or did. Because hearsay is not first-hand (direct) knowledge of the individual testifying under oath or affirmation, it is generally not admissible if a party objects. In unemployment hearings, which are informal, hearsay may be considered if it is relevant.
A first-time application for unemployment insurance benefits. An initial claim establishes a benefit year.
To be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, a claimant must meet certain monetary eligibility tests. If they cannot meet any of the required monetary eligibility criteria, they will have an invalid claim. If a claimant disagrees with a determination that their claim is invalid, they may appeal by following instructions included with the notice of determination.
“Labor dispute" means any controversy concerning wages, hours, working conditions or terms of employment between an employer and a bargaining unit or a group of employees. A labor dispute generally arises as part of an organized strike by a union or lockout by employer. This section does not apply to an individual “at will” employee who is having a disagreement with their employer, for example. Learn more about labor disputes and unemployment eligibility.
The right to appeal a benefit determination is time sensitive - if you don’t appeal within the time frame indicated on your notice of determination your appeal may be denied because it was filed late. If you file an appeal after the time frame allowed, known as a “late appeal,” your appeal will only be considered if you have good cause for filing late.
Maximum benefit amount
Click here for the current maximum weekly benefit amount.
Misclassification (employee misclassification, worker misclassification)
Misclassification is where an employer improperly classifies an employee as an independent contractor. Misclassification may illegally deprive workers of basic wage and hour protections and access to unemployment benefits. In New Jersey, you are presumed to be an employee, unless your employer can prove otherwise. If you feel your employer has misclassified you, apply for unemployment benefits.
Misconduct means conduct that is improper, intentional, connected with the claimant’s work, is within the claimant’s control (not simply a good faith error of judgment or discretion), and is either a deliberate refusal to comply with the employer’s lawful and reasonable rules or a deliberate disregard of the standards of behavior the employer has a right to expect, including reasonable safety standards and reasonable standards for a workplace free of drug and substance abuse. NJAC 12:17-2.1 Misconduct carries a 6-week disqualification from the date of discharge. Claimants who have submitted a claim for unemployment benefits and have a misconduct disqualification can reopen their claim by logging into their account or contacting the call center after their disqualification period has ended.
The burden is on the employer to prove that there is misconduct, who is required to provide written documentation demonstrating that the claimant’s actions constitute misconduct. NJAC 12:17-10.1
When making a decision, the reviewing body may affirm, modify or reverse a determination. Modified means that the decision below has been changed in some way. For example, an initial determination may include a finding of indefinite ineligibility, which is then modified to a three (3) week ineligibility term.
A claimant must have sufficient earnings to be eligible for unemployment benefits. This monetary eligibility test is met where:
- A claimant has established 20 base weeks in their base year. A claimant establishes a base week when they have earned at least 20 times the New Jersey minimum hourly wage during that week.
- If a claimant cannot meet the regular earnings test above, they will be assessed using the alternative earnings test. To meet the alternatives earnings test, the claimant must have earned 1,000 times the New Jersey minimum wage, during their base year.
- If a claimant cannot meet either of the tests above, they may be monetarily eligible if they have performed at least 770 hours of service in the production and harvesting of agricultural crops.
An interview or electronic form to gather information about earnings during a claimant’s base year.
Issues that could affect a claimant’s eligibility for benefits that do not have to do with wage payment. Some examples of non-monetary issues include things such as the reason for the separation or a claimant’s availability for or ability to work.
Non-professional school employee
Any employee of the school who is supportive to the educational process. This includes custodians, janitors, cafeteria workers, clerical staff, bus drivers, security personnel, teacher's aides and some paraprofessional employees.
An overpayment occurs when a claimant receives unemployment benefits to which they are not entitled. This can happen, for example, where wage information is incorrect, or an appeal changes the initial determination of eligibility. A claimant is required to repay the full amount of any overpayment, including any taxes they paid to the IRS on the benefits, but the terms of repayment, and how the state can collect overpaid benefits can differ depending on how the overpayment is classified. If a claimant is determined to have an overpayment, they will be sent a notice explaining the reason for the overpayment. They will also receive a separate notice stating the amount of the amount with appeal rights. NJAC 12:17-4.3
If a claimant maintains less than full-time work, they may be entitled to partial unemployment insurance benefits. Claimants must report all hours worked and gross wages earned on their weekly certification and maintain active work search.
A word, number and character you create to access your account on our web site. Your password must be at least 8 characters long and include at least one numeral, one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and at least one of the following special characters: ! @ # $ %. Your password protects your personal information; do not give your password to anyone else.
Pended credit is when a claim is in “Pending” status because it is under review or awaiting an appeal, but the claimant is still unemployed and continues to certify for benefits. If the issue causing the “Pending” status is resolved in the claimant’s favor, they will receive payment for the week(s) they have pended credit –the weeks in which they certified and were found eligible.
If the status of a claim indicates that it is “Pending” it means that the initial application is waiting to be reviewed by Unemployment Division staff. If a claim is “Pending,” claimants should continue to check mail and email and watch for phone calls, because someone from the Division may be reaching out to collect additional information. Claimants should also continue to check the status of their claim on the website to see if it has changed to “Filed.”
Personal identification number
A 4-digit number you create when you certify for benefits for the first time. You must use your PIN every time you certify for benefits.
Prepaid debit card
One of two ways a claimant may choose to receive unemployment benefit payments. After a claim is approved and the claimant has certified for benefits, if they have not opted for direct deposit, benefit payments will be made using a prepaid debit card.
Professional school employee
A school employee who performs work in an instructional, research, or principal administrative capacity (such as a teacher, principal, registrar, etc.).
A quit (also known as a “voluntary quit”) is where the claimant initiates the separation. Unless the claimant leaves their job because they have good cause attributable to the work, they will be disqualified from unemployment benefits. To remove a disqualification for voluntary leaving, a claimant must return to work (in covered employment) for at least eight weeks, earn at least 10 times their weekly benefit rate, and then become unemployed through no fault of their own.
The burden of proof is on the claimant to prove that they quit with good cause attributable to the work.
The complete account of what happened in the case, including all testimony and other evidence submitted, which the Division or a court uses to make their determination. If you are appealing your case, you are entitled to a copy of the record.
Regulations (also called Rules)
Regulations are requirements issued by the Department of Labor that govern the administration of Unemployment Insurance benefits. Regulations have the full force and effect of a law. Click the link to review New Jersey Unemployment regulations.
Regular base year period
The first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the week you file an initial claim. Also called a "regular base period."
A remand means that the matter being appealed must go back to the reviewing body below to re-review the matter, address any deficiency in the initial review, and issue a new decision. When a matter is remanded, the decision may be affirmed, modified or reversed.
Remuneration includes all compensation for services, including commissions, bonuses, and the cash value of all other compensation, such as fringe benefits. See NJAC 12:16-4.1 for a complete list.
Remuneration (Pay) in lieu of notice
Payment in lieu of notice is when an employee receives payment from their employer instead of getting advance notice of their termination. This includes the wages and/or benefits the employee would have been entitled to had they worked during the notice period. Claimants must report any pay in lieu of notice when they apply for unemployment benefits. This often happens, for example, with separation related to mass layoffs (WARN Act). Remuneration in lieu of notice is different than Severance Pay. The different types of separation pay can be confusing - it is always best to file a claim for unemployment benefits immediately, report any separation pay you are receiving and let the Division advise you.
Reopen (your claim)
If you claimed unemployment benefits, but then during your benefit year found work and are now unemployed again, or if you were disqualified for benefits but the disqualification period is over, or if you failed to certify for benefits for more than 28 days, you will need to reopen your claim in order to begin receiving unemployment benefits again. To reopen a claim, log in to your account or call the call center.
Retirement benefits/retirement pay
Retirement benefits include things like pensions and 401(k) or 403(b) payments. If you are collecting a pension or retirement pay from a base year employer and claiming unemployment, your retirement benefits must be reported. Social Security retirement benefits do not affect your Unemployment Insurance benefits.
When making a decision, a reviewing body may affirm, modify or reverse a determination. If a decision is reversed, it means that the appellate body disagrees with the decision made below and is changing it.
A lump sum or periodic payment provided by the employer to the employee upon termination of employment. If an employer offers severance pay, it is usually based on the length of employment. Severance pay is not included in unemployment benefit calculations but should be reported on your application for unemployment benefits. The different types of separation pay can be confusing – it is always best to file a claim for unemployment benefits immediately, report any separation pay you are receiving, and let the Division advise you.
A statute is another word for law. Unemployment statutes are the legal framework for determining eligibility for benefits.
Stoppage of work
See work stoppage
A subpoena is a legal order requiring the person to whom it is addressed to appear at a specific time and place to testify as a witness or produce documents and records. Subpoenas are issued where the information requested is not produced voluntarily and is important to the determination in the case. Subpoenas may be issued at the request of a party or by the Appeal Tribunal.
Suitable new job/work
While a claimant is unemployed, they are required to look for work and are required to accept work that is suitable given their employment background and history. In determining whether work is suitable for a claimant, consideration is given to the degree of risk involved to health, safety and morals, a claimant’s physical fitness and prior training, experience and prior earnings and employee benefits, the claimant’s length of employment, prospects for securing work in the claimant’s customary occupation and commuting distance. Suitability with regard to wages means 80% of the claimant’s remuneration (including the value of employee benefits) they received during the claimant’s base year. NJAC 12:17-11.2
Testimony is a statement or declaration of a witness that is used to support or dispute a position. When you give testimony, you are stating what you know, saw or heard. All testimony is taken under oath or affirmation, which means that you are sworn to tell the truth.
A transcript is a written copy of all testimony taken at an Appeal Tribunal hearing. Transcripts are only provided upon request where an appeal is being filed in the Superior Court, Appellate Division. Parties may request an audio copy of interviews and Appeal Tribunal hearings. Click here for information.
An email address you use to access your unemployment insurance claim on our web site.
When a claimant can establish that they have sufficient earnings during their base period, their claim for unemployment benefits will be considered valid. This is also known as establishing monetary eligibility. Having a valid claim is only one piece of establishing entitlement to benefits. Claimants who have a valid claim are not entitled to benefits unless they meet all eligibility requirements. For example, a claimant with a valid claim may be disqualified from benefits if they voluntarily quit their job, or were discharged for misconduct, until they have satisfied other criteria.
Wages are earnings paid by employers to their employees. If a worker receives gratuities regularly in the course of their employment, "wages" also includes the gratuities received.
Waiver (of overpayment)
If a claimant cannot repay the amount of their overpayment, they may request an overpayment waiver. The process for requesting a waiver, and the criteria used to determine whether an overpayment may be waived, can differ depending on the type of unemployment program.
Weekly benefit rate
The weekly unemployment benefit amount a claimant is eligible for. This is generally 60% of a claimant’s average weekly wage during their benefit year, up to the current annual maximum.
A witness is someone who is called by the claimant or employer to help support their side of the case. It is important that you arrange for any witnesses to appear at the Appeal Tribunal hearing. If a witness refuses to appear, you can ask for a subpoena.
Worker misclassification (employee misclassification, misclassification)
Worker misclassification is where an employer improperly classifies an employee as an independent contractor. Misclassification may illegally deprive workers of basic wage and hour protections and access to unemployment benefits. In New Jersey, you are presumed to be an employee, unless your employer can prove otherwise. If you feel your employer has misclassified you, apply for unemployment benefits.
Work search waiver
A work search waiver excuses you from actively seeking full-time work while claiming unemployment benefits. May be granted in certain cases such as when a person is enrolled in a preapproved training program or finds jobs through union hiring halls or is laid off temporarily with a definite rehire date within 8 weeks from the date of initial separation.
Work stoppage/stoppage of work
A work stoppage is a substantial reduction in work due to a labor dispute. Your employer is considered to have a “stoppage of work” if they cannot meet 80% of their normal production of goods or services. Learn more about labor disputes and unemployment eligibility.