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NJ Department of Labor begins making pandemic assistance payments to independent contractors self-employed residents

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced that recipients of federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which includes self-employed residents, independent contractors, and others who are not usually eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, will start being notified of their eligibility for the program Wednesday, and will begin receiving payments early next week.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a new program authorized by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to provide unemployment benefits to workers not eligible for regular unemployment. In addition to people who are self-employed or independent contractors, this includes residents who do not have enough recent earnings to receive regular unemployment benefits. 

Workers in this group who have applied for regular unemployment and been denied will be contacted by a member of the New Jersey Department of Labor, and those who qualify for the payments will start processing payments this week.  

“The Department has worked hard over the past month to get this program up and running despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, and it is now available,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “While it will take time to determine eligibility for everyone who seeks benefits, the process has begun to get billions of additional dollars into the wallets of eligible self-employed workers.” 

Claimants must certify for these benefits online each week. The certification schedule, which is based on Social Security number, can be found at myunemployment.nj.gov.  

Claimants will receive payments retroactive to when they filed their unemployment claim. They must certify their PUA claim for each week they are claiming benefits, even if they previously certified their regular unemployment claim for the same week. In other words, PUA claims are processed separately from regular unemployment claims. Certifying information must be completed separately.  

The initial group of PUA-eligible claimants will be notified Wednesday of their time slot to certify for benefits on Friday. They will receive payments on Tuesday, May 5.  

Workers who certify for benefits on Friday will also receive a separate $600 supplemental payment as part of the CARES Act for each week they were eligible for PUA since March 29. Those who certify after Friday will receive the CARES Act supplement the following week. 

Claimants who are instructed to certify for PUA Friday, Saturday or Sunday will receive payments on Tuesday. Those who certify on Monday or later will receive payments two business days after they certify. 

Workers who are eligible for PUA, but for whom available wage records are incomplete, will be issued weekly PUA payments for the minimum amount of $231, plus the separate $600 weekly supplemental benefit, once they certify for benefits according to the schedule. These workers will be contacted separately to update their income information, and any necessary adjustment to their weekly benefit rate will be made based on the updated income information they provide. 

Here is what New Jersey’s self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who may be eligible for PUA need to know: 

  • If you already applied but did not follow the instructions outlined above, your application will still be reviewed for PUA eligibility. 
  • If you have not heard from the department, there is no reason to call or email.  
  • Look for more information in your mail or email inbox. 
  • PUA claims will be backdated to the date you first became eligible, so you won’t lose any benefits. The first week of potential eligibility is the week ending February 8, 2020. 
  • You may be required to produce income records for 2018 and 2019. 
  • Additional information, including answers to many frequently asked questions, can be found here: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/assets/pdfs/CARES_FFRCA.pdf 


  1. How are people who fill out out incomplete information is still awarded $231.00 as opposed to people like myself who has been working legally and paying into the system for years get nothing but grief, stress, anxiety over not being able to contact someone at the unemployment office been out of work since 3/26/20 an not received A DIME. SERIOUSLY

  2. I was denied because I do not have anyone to watch my kids due to schools being closed , will I somehow get PUA? And if so when

    1. I was denied for the same reason, I don’t understand. I got my denial letter today. I have been trying to call all day and emails and no one has responded.

      1. You have to be denied first in order to get the PAU benefits. Appeal the decision on the website. My husband had the same issue and is now receiving the benefits. We applied March 22 and he just got a payment in May.

  3. Here is what happened to me: I am a Independent Contractor- I applied on March 22. I never got denied. I went from Pending to Filed in the system with $0 saying for 7 weeks. I fall under the PUA. i supplied all the documents proving that I make over $7000 per month for the last 2 years on my contracted job. I lost all my jobs due to COVID. I just got an email on May 7 that I can now certify BUT they are only granting me the minimum of $231……………… What? I supplied all the documents. So now my question is how do I schedule an appointment to discuss this to get a re review? Cannot still get thru on any of the phone numbers. Does anyone know if there is an online request form for an appointment? Or do you have to just wait until they get back to you to schedule like this article says…….

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Very same issue here, I also applied on March 22 but in my case I didn’t supplied documents because I didn’t see any option to upload. How did you send your documents? I assume they will contact me to verify my earnings. I’m also independent contractor making around 5k but I got only $231 too. I got the $1,386 email confirmation for the 6 weeks benefits but not the $600/week extra but hoping would be deposited to my bank too. I certified on the 8th the Friday.

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