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Understanding Unemployment Benefits

You have lost your job or have learned that you will soon be laid off. Here are some first steps to take when you learn that you will be unemployed.

Filing an Unemployment Claim

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development does not charge a fee to file an unemployment claim. Anyone who visits a website that charges a fee for processing an unemployment claim should immediately exit that site before providing any confidential information. 

Before unemployment benefits can be paid to you, you must file a claim. You are not permitted to file a claim until you are unemployed. You may file your new unemployment claim, or reopen an existing claim, online if you: If you meet the requirements, you can file your unemployment claim online. If you do not meet the requirements, you must file your claim by telephone. 

Filing an Online Claim

To file your online claim, you will need the following information:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Alien Registration Number (if you are not a US citizen).
  • Your NJ driver’s license or NJ non-driver identification number.
  • Pension information (if you are receiving any pension or 401k).
  • Amount and duration of any separation pay you may be receiving.
  • Recall date (if you expect to be recalled to your job).
  • Union hiring hall information, including local number and address (if you get work through a union).
  • Military Form DD-214 (if you were in the military in the last 18 months).
  • Form SF-8 or SF-50 (if you were a federal employee).
  • Your bank account number and routing number (if you plan to get your benefits through direct deposit).
  • For each employer that you worked for in the last 18 months, provide the following:
    • Complete name, address, and phone number of employer
    • Your occupation with that employer
    • Beginning and ending dates of employment
    • Reason for separation

Once you are ready, you can file your unemployment claim online. The information you submit is confidential and the website is secure. If you have a question about your claim or about unemployment insurance, contact the Division of Unemployment Insurance.

Claims Inquiry Center

If you do not wish to file your claim online or if you have specific questions you may call your Claims Inquiry Center from Monday through Friday, excluding holidays between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. Your claim will be dated the Sunday of the week in which you call so make sure you call during the week you want your claim to begin. The week runs from Sunday to Saturday. 

Central NJ 732-761-2020
Northern NJ 201-601-4100
Southern NJ 856-507-2340
Out-of-State 888-795-6672
TTY    7-1-1

Next Steps

Once your unemployment claim has been accepted, you will need to certify each week in order to receive your regular benefits. The amount of unemployment benefits you may receive each week is your Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR). Program guidelines and benefits may change. The most current information about NJ unemployment guidelines and benefits is available here.

Unemployment Benefits Appeal Rights

Every determination that affects your eligibility for unemployment benefits will be given to you in writing. If you disagree, you have the right to file an appeal. A determination becomes final unless a written appeal is filed within seven calendar days after delivery or within ten calendar days after the mailing of the determination. An appeal period can be extended if good cause for late filing is shown. Appeals can be filed online or can be mailed to:

New Jersey Department of Labor
Appeal Tribunal
PO Box 907
Trenton, NJ 08625-0907

Your appeal letter must include your name, Social Security number, telephone number, and address. In addition, give your reasons for disagreeing with the determination and, if you file late, the reason for the delay.  Learn more about your rights to an appeal.

Job Search Resources

While on unemployment, you should be looking for a new job. Learn more about job search resources and your local One-Stop Career Center.

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