How Is Unemployment Determined in New Jersey
New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the state’s unemployment’s insurance plan. The idea of this insurance is to give relief to out-work-citizens while they search for new employment. Businesses with employees pay into the unemployment insurance plan and the department offers benefit payments to eligible individuals. State laws decide how much you can obtain on New Jersey unemployment and the procedures for the process.
If you have filed for jobless benefits in NJ, you may speculate how your benefits are estimated. The state of New Jersey has very specific rules to work out the weekly benefit amounts of individuals eligible for unemployment benefits. How much you receive in benefits will depend on your past employment, wages earned and your dependents.
Identify Your Base Period
The Labor and Workforce Development employs your base period to decide eligibility and then to compute your benefit amount. It’s the 1st four of the last five full calendar quarters you filed for benefits.
Your regular base period comprises 52 weeks that is determined by the date of your claim. The table below shows what your regular base period would be if you filed your claim any day between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.
In case you do not meet the above necessities but you have worked no less than 770 hours in employment involving the production and harvesting of agricultural crops during your base year, you may still be qualified for benefits.
If you do not meet the above requirements but you worked at least 770 hours in employment involving the production and harvesting of agricultural crops during your base year, you may still be eligible for benefits.
Alternate Base Year Period
Sometimes when a claimant does not have sufficient wages to be eligible for benefits in the base period, the LWD allows the alternate base period. That’s just the last 4 full calendar quarters prior to filing your claim. Whichever base period you employ to qualify for benefits is the one you must use when computing your benefits.
You may qualify for benefits if you worked at least 20 base weeks (a base week in 2010, 2011, and 2012 is minimum weekly earnings of $145), or a total of $7,300 in any one-year period in the last 1 1/2 years (last 18 months)for a claim dated in calendar year 2010.
There are two alternate base years (1 year periods) within the last 18 months that we check to qualify you for a claim. You cannot decide which alternate base year or which calendar quarters to use to be eligible for a claim. In case you still do not qualify for a claim using the 1st alternate base year, then the unemployment department checks using the 2nd alternate base year.
Alternate Base Year #1: The first alternative uses your four most recent quarters prior to filing your claim.
Alternate Base Year #2: The second alternative uses your three most recent quarters prior to the date of filing your claim, and weeks in the quarter you filed your claim. This alternative base year will contain less than 52 weeks.
The LWD examines your base period wages; it only reflects the wages from employment covered under the New Jersey unemployment compensation laws. These wages are called insured or covered wages. Similar to most states, New Jersey’s unemployment rules are complete. Some important exclusions take in independent contractor work, commission only work and self-employed work.
Calculating Your Weekly Benefit Amount
When New Jersey decides how much to give you per week, it uses a formula mandated by state law. It uses the Average-Weekly-Wage Formula and estimates the weekly benefit amount.
Average-Weekly-Wage Formula: Numerous states calculate the weekly benefit as a percentage of the worker’s average weekly wages in the base period.
Formula for calculating weekly benefit amount:
WW (Average Weekly Wage Formula)
60% (base weeks’ wages/number of base weeks) +DA (Dependent’s Allowances)
Your weekly benefit amount is 60% of your average weekly wage during your base period. Sum your covered wages earned during your whole base period.
Keep in mind that if your calculations put you above that, you still won t receive more than that.
Calculating Your Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA)
After you identify your WBA, you can determine your MBA, which is the total sum you can obtain per claim per benefit year. In order to decide your MBA, first determine your base weeks, which are weeks in your base period that you earned more than 20 times the state’s minimum wage.
Your MBA is actually equal to your WBA multiplied by the number of weeks you worked.
For instance, if you worked 22 weeks during your base period and your WBA is $400, your MBA is $8,800. This is the overall dollar amount you will collect during your benefit year. The highest number of weeks used to estimate your MBA is 26.
All states need a worker to have earned a definite amount of wages or to have worked for a definite period of time (or both) within the base period to be financially eligible to collect any UI benefits. Most workers are entitled for benefits based on employment and wages in a single state. On the other hand, some workers who work in more than one state will not have sufficient employment and wages in any single state to set up monetary eligibility, or would be qualified for a smaller WBA. Workers with wages and employment in more than one state can opt to file a claim combining wages and employment earned in all states where they worked into a claim filed under the law of any of the states they worked.
To make sure you qualify for benefits, check out NJ unemployment eligibility section.
The qualifying formula for wages and employment used by New Jersey is:
20 base weeks (20% of AWW)
or alternative: 1,000 times the state minimum hourly wage. ($7.25/hr state minimum hourly wage)
The minimum wages needed to qualify for UI in New Jersey is $2,900 for base period.
New Jersey permits individuals with WBA less than the maximum weekly benefit amount of $598 to possibly be eligible for dependency benefits. Dependency benefits let you to collect additional money for your dependents. If suitable, you will be given 7% of your WBA for your first dependent and 4% for your next two dependents. The maximum percentage you can claim is 15% for three dependents.
You can t collect dependency benefits if your spouse or civil union partner is working during the first week you file your claim. To claim a dependency, your child must not have married and must be under the age of 19, or 22 if a full-time student. You can claim your spouse or civil union partner as a dependent if he or she is unemployed. You must give the Social Security number of your spouse or child and give proof of dependency within 6 weeks of filing your claim.
Based on the type of pension you get, it may affect your unemployment benefits. According the New Jersey Department of Labor, if your employer made 100% of the contribution to your pension, 100% of your weekly pension amount is subtracted from your weekly benefits. If both you and your employer contributed equally to your pension, 50% of your weekly pension amount is taken away from your WBA. If you contributed 100% to your pension, you will not have your benefits reduced. Your benefits are delayed if you receive a lump sum payment of a retirement pension due to an involuntary separation of work before the age of 59 1/2. In case you collect Social Security benefits, you will not experience a reduction of your unemployment benefits.