The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of Americans out of work. Many people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been relying on unemployment benefits to help them to meet their basic needs while they are unemployed. People who lose their jobs through no fault of their own might wonder how long they will be eligible to continue receiving unemployment benefits. With the uncertain economy and the risks posed by the virus, the duration of unemployment benefits is an important consideration for many people. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can help you to understand the unemployment insurance system and how long you might expect to continue receiving unemployment benefits.
How long can you receive unemployment insurance benefits in New Jersey?
To receive unemployment insurance benefits in New Jersey, you must first meet the state’s eligibility requirements. These requirements include losing your job through no fault of your own, being able and available to work, actively seeking a new job, and meeting the job tenure and earnings requirements. If you lost your job because of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and are actively looking for work, you should be eligible as long as you also earned at least $200 per week for at least 20 weeks during the previous year’s base period or at least $10,000 during that time. Unemployment benefits are payable at a rate of 60% of the income that you earned from your job, and the benefits are paid every week. However, the weekly benefits rate is capped at a maximum of $713 per week.
Once you are approved for unemployment benefits, you can continue receiving them as long as you continue to be eligible. Maintaining your eligibility for unemployment benefits means that you will need to submit new claims forms as required and continue looking for work. There is a maximum duration for receiving unemployment insurance benefits through the state’s unemployment insurance program of 26 weeks. However, the length of time that you might be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits may be less. For example, if you only worked for 20 weeks during the base year, you will be limited to receiving 20 weeks of standard unemployment benefits from the state.
The maximum amount of unemployment benefits that can be received during the 26 weeks of eligibility can be found by multiplying 26 by $713. In other words, the maximum total unemployment benefits that people can earn in 2020 in New Jersey is $18,538. If you return to work before you have collected all of your unemployment benefits and subsequently lose your job, you can refile to collect the remaining benefits. If you need to reapply in 2021 after one year has passed, you will need to have worked the required minimum during the base period to be eligible.
How long can you receive unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania?
To receive unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania, you will need to meet the state’s eligibility requirements. You must have lost your job through no fault of your own, or your employer must have partially or completely reduced your hours. You must also be able and available to work. Even if you are in quarantine, you can count yourself as being available to work if you can take on a work-from-home or remote position. You must also have earned enough qualifying wages during the base year. Your benefits will be based on the highest earnings quarter during the base year, and you cannot have earned all of your wages during a single quarter. A minimum of 37% of your qualifying wages must have been earned in quarters other than your highest quarter.
The weekly benefit rate for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania is roughly 50% of the wages that you previously earned. However, the amount is capped at a maximum of $572 for an individual. The maximum number of weeks that you can continue receiving unemployment benefits is 26 weeks. To continue receiving unemployment benefits, you will also need to maintain your eligibility by submitting biweekly claims forms. If you return to work and subsequently lose your new job, you can reapply to receive your remaining benefits. If you need to reapply for unemployment benefits next year, the base year will be recalculated to make sure that you meet the earnings requirements for the new period.
Federal unemployment benefits
The federal government passed the CARES Act in the spring to provide additional federal unemployment benefits to people who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These benefits paid $600 per week in addition to the state benefits. However, the extended federal unemployment benefits expired at the end of July. Congress has not yet agreed to extend them. Recently, President Trump signed an executive order to extend the federal benefits to Dec. 31 at $300 per week. However, most states have indicated that the executive order is unworkable. The CARES Act also extended the maximum weeks of unemployment eligibility to 39 weeks from 26 weeks. If Congress negotiates an agreement to extend the pandemic unemployment assistance from the federal government, more supplemental benefits might become available.
Get help from Swartz Swidler
Navigating unemployment insurance claims during the pandemic can be tricky. The economic downturn has led to millions of more unemployment claims and long wait times. If you need help with your unemployment insurance claim, contact Swartz Swidler today by filling out our contact form or calling us at 856.685.7420.