How Many Tiers of Unemployment Are There in New Jersey?

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New Jersey currently offers a 26-week period of standard unemployment compensation benefits. Because of high unemployment rates across the United States, the U.S. government, as of May 2011, funds four tiers of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits that provide up to 53 additional weekly paychecks to unemployed New Jersey residents. Residents do not need to file for unemployment extensions, as the state will automatically file a claim on their behalf, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Tier 1

  • Tier 1 extension benefits offer the unemployed individuals up to 20 weeks of additional benefits with a maximum claim of 80 percent of a New Jersey resident's total payout from regular unemployment. For example, a resident who receives $10,000 over 26 weeks from regular unemployment insurance (UI) cannot receive more than $8,000 in Tier 1 unemployment compensation. Unemployed residents must have filed their regular unemployment claim on May 7, 2006, or later and must exhaust their regular unemployment benefits by Dec. 25, 2011, to qualify for the first extension.

Tier 2

  • Residents automatically qualify for additional tiers of unemployment compensation without an application. Tier 2 benefits provide the lesser of 14 weeks of pay or a maximum of 54 percent paid from their original unemployment claim. New Jersey residents must use up their original claim and their Tier 1 EUC by Dec. 31, 2011, to qualify for a Tier 2 extension.

Tier 3

  • Tier 3 EUC benefits provide the lesser of 13 weeks of pay or 50 percent of a New Jersey resident's original claim. Residents must use up the first two tiers by Dec. 31, 2011, to qualify for this tier before the Jan. 3, 2012, expiration date based on regulations as of May 2011. Residents should check the website of the New Jersey Department of Labor in case the federal government decides to extend EUC expiration dates. Individuals must have performed at least 20 weeks of work or earned 40 times their weekly benefit rate before filing their initial UI claim to qualify for EUC.

Tier 4

  • Not all states qualify for Tier 4 EUC, because the U.S. government requires a state to have an average unemployment rate of at least 8.5 percent for three months to qualify. New Jersey has a high unemployment rate of 9.3 percent as of March 2011, according to the United States Census Bureau. Residents must exhaust their previous unemployment tiers by the end of December to qualify, and they can receive the lesser of six weeks of benefits or 24 percent of the benefit amount of their original claim.

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