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Legislation Signed Expanding Eligibility for Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits

TRENTON (December 7, 2020) – Governor Phil Murphy on Friday signed legislation (A4852) expanding eligibility for extended UI benefits to claimants who either had been eligible for regular UI benefits prior to exhausting those benefits or earned 40 times their unemployment weekly benefits rate. Per prior law, eligibility for extended UI benefits, which offer up to an additional 20 weeks of benefits, was limited to claimants who satisfied both criteria.

“We have an obligation to make sure that New Jerseyans can stay afloat during these extraordinarily challenging times.” said Governor Murphy. “While we desperately need the federal government to step up, we’re doing our part to help working people weather the storm. This law will help many residents that were previously ineligible for extended UI benefits to get the financial relief that they earned and deserve.”

Claimants of Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program benefits are entitled to 26 weeks of regular unemployment in New Jersey. The CARES Act offers up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. After claimants exhaust their 26 weeks of State unemployment plus 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, claimants are eligible for extended benefits. Twenty weeks of extended benefits are available during “high unemployment periods.” The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced on July 1 that it would begin providing 20 weeks of extended unemployment to New Jersey workers who have exhausted their State and federal jobless benefits. The additional 20 weeks of benefits brings to 59 the maximum number of weeks an eligible claimant may receive unemployment benefits.

Under prior State unemployment law, a claimant qualifies for extended benefits, only if the claimant had been eligible for regular UI benefits prior to exhausting those benefits and was paid wages during the base year of the claimant’s applicable benefit year 40 times the claimant’s weekly benefit rate. A4852 permits the claimant to be eligible for the extended benefits if the claimant had been eligible for regular UI benefits prior to exhausting those benefits or earned 40 times their unemployment weekly benefit rate.