Unemployment Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by: Natalie Klyashtorny


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions have become unemployed in the span of only several weeks.  To alleviate the resulting financial hardship, the federal and state governments have expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits. 

Eligible Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania

If you reside in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has extended eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits under the following circumstances:

  • Your employer temporarily closes or ceases business operations because of COVID-19.
  • Your employer reduces the number of hours you work because of COVID-19.
  • You have been advised by your employer not to show up for work because your employer believes you may obtain or spread COVID-19.
  • You have been advised to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts.

Additionally, the following governmental rules and regulations have been temporarily suspended in Pennsylvania due to the emergency:

  • Claimants are not required to prove they have applied or searched for a new job to maintain their UC benefits.
  • Claimants are also not required to register with PACareerLink.pa.gov.
  • Although claimants would typically not receive compensation for the first week of unemployment, they are now so eligible. 

Eligible Unemployment Benefits in New Jersey

If you reside in New Jersey, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if:

  • You have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • You are unable to work because you must care for child(ren) at home due to a school closure related to COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a family member who is diagnosed or in isolation or quarantine with suspicion of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Your employer temporarily closes or ceases business operations or was ordered to close because of COVID-19.
  • Your employer reduces the number of hours you work because of COVID-19.
  • You have been advised to quarantine or self-isolate.

Supplemental Federal Unemployment Benefits

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), the federal stimulus package recently enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President, will provide an additional $600 per week through July 31, 2020 for those who are not working, working part-time, or are too sick to work in addition to the state benefits they will receive. The federal government will also cover an additional 13 weeks of extended benefits beyond that of the states. 

Unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, but not under Pennsylvania state unemployment benefits, will cover those who do not meet the definition of “employee” such as independent contractors, gig workers, and self-employed individuals. 

In New Jersey, independent contractors, gig workers, and self-employed individuals may also be eligible for state unemployment benefits. 

If you have a question about unemployment benefits, please feel free to contact us at contact@nochumson.com and an attorney at Nochumson P.C. will immediately reach out to you to schedule a free consultation.