Lost a job? Closed a business? Can’t pay mortgage? Help is hereApril 8, 2020
If you have lost your job during the COVID-19 Pandemic, own a small business that has been forced to close or are having a hard time making your mortgage or credit card payments, there is help available.
However, identifying what programs you qualify for and how to access them can be difficult. Here are some suggestions offered by New Jersey experts. No matter what kind of relief you are seeking, pack plenty of patience. The infrastructure to deliver benefits has been stretched thin.
You, Your Money, Your Job: Thursday, April 9 at 7 p.m., New Jersey 101.5 is hosting a live discussion on surviving the coronavirus economy, and getting the help you need. Tune in to New Jersey 101.5 FM, listen on the New Jersey 101.5 app, or watch and participate on Facebook Live at Facebook.com/NJ1015.
All in-person unemployment offices have been closed in New Jersey until further notice. The only way to apply for benefits is to call or go on-line. Neither option would be considered “speedy.” Because of the record volume of applications, New Jersey is also restriction applications to certain days based on your Social Security number. To find out when you call call or apply on-line, click here.
New Jersey is bringing on more staff from other departments and training them to handle claims, but expect long hold times if you are calling. If you are filing on-line, the computer infrastructure is decades old, and prone to glitches and crashes due to the large volume of claims. The state recently put out a call for computer programmers who know COBOL to help keep this aged infrastructure operational.
Those who qualify for New Jersey unemployment benefits may also be eligible for an additional $600 per week benefit under legislation signed by President Donald Trump.
To file for unemployment benefits by phone, see this guide.
To file online, click here.
Whether on-line or by phone, you will be asked a series of questions. The most important are:
• Were you able and available to work?
• Were you actively seeking work?
Answer “YES” to both. Many filers have been answering “NO” due to the stay-at-home order in New Jersey and that has delayed claims processing.
From the NJ Department of Labor website:
Question 1 – Were you able and available for work?
The answer to this question should be YES if:
1. You were physically able to do your work before you lost your job (and you lost your job/hours due to your own coronavirus illness, your need to care for a family/household member with coronavirus, or your employment situation changed because of coronavirus public health emergency); OR
2. You are out of work temporarily due to an employer-closure related to the coronavirus and expect to return to your job; OR
3. You are able and available for work.
Question 2 – Were you actively seeking work?
If you are waiting to be recalled to your present job, or delaying your job search until this natural emergency ends or subsides, you should answer YES.