Q. I would like to know the duration of unemployment insurance coverage in New Jersey. Currently I’m assured benefits for only six months, but in talking to my friends, I’ve heard different time periods such as minimum of one year, extended up to two years and more. I’ve also heard that extensions are ending in December 2012, and new laws might apply. What’s the real story?
A. The Brain is sorry to hear that you’re out of a job.
For the "real story," we went straight to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
New Jersey offers Unemployment Insurance, or U.I. for 26 weeks. The benefit amounts vary for each person depending on how long they worked at a job and their salary, averaging about $400 per week, and maxing out at $611 per week, said spokesman Brian Murray.
Murray said in recent times, the federal government had two supplemental programs: One known as Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and a second one known as Extended Benefits (EB).
EUC offers 53 weeks of supplemental benefits to New Jersey’s 26 weeks to those who qualify.
"EUC was due to end at the beginning of this past year – 2012 – but it was extended under a federal act earlier this year, and it is now due to end this December nationwide," he said.
The other federal program, EB, had offered an
additional 20 weeks of federal benefits after EUC, which is why you may have heard of people collecting for 99 weeks, Murray said.
That program ended throughout the nation this year, with different states rolling off at different times. New Jersey recipients stopped getting EB July 7, he said.
"It was a cold cut-off. Whether you had just rolled onto EB or were finishing it up did not matter. The federal government closed it. No money continued," Murray said.
EUC is due to end in the same fashion in December.
So, if you exhausted your 26 weeks of New Jersey benefits today and rolled on to EUC, or if you roll off New Jersey U.I. in November and get on EUC, it does not matter, Murray said. The program will end – unless, of course, the president and Congress opt to extend it or modify it.
Murray said as it stands today, if you go onto U.I, the maximum you may be eligible to collect is 26 weeks of New Jersey U.I. and there is no supplemental federal program waiting when you exhaust the state benefits.
The catch? These benefits are only for those who have had enough of a base salary to qualify for U.I. to begin with – so you should check the state’s web site (njsuccess.dol.state.nj.us/html/uimain.html) to make sure you’re eligible.
Good luck finding work!
—Karin Price Mueller