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If I’m self-employed or own a business, am I eligible for unemployment or other benefits?


Self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers:

The recently enacted CARES ACT extends unemployment benefits to freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors, who typically are not eligible.

To see if you are eligible for benefits, refer to this guide created by the New Jersey Department of Labor, and to learn more about how to apply for benefits refer to this guide.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

PUA is a new program authorized by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) 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 those 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, do not have to do anything further. The Department will start reaching out April 29, 2020, and will start processing payments this week.

Claimants must certify for these benefits online each week. The certification schedule -- based on Social Security number -- can be found at For more information and instructions, see the NJDOL's April 29, 2020 press release.

To see if you are eligible for New Jersey's Unemployment Insurance, Temporary Disability Insurance, Earned Sick Leave, and Family Leave Insurance programs visit

Business Owners

If you are a business owner, information regarding unemployment insurance eligibility can be found at NJDOL's Information for Corporate Officers & Business Owners.

In addition, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority recently announced several new programs to support thousands of businesses and their workers facing economic hardship due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The initiatives include a grant program for small businesses, a zero-interest loan program for mid-size companies, support for private-sector lenders, funding for entrepreneurs, and a variety of resources providing technical support and marketplace information. For more information read this article.

New Jersey businesses are also eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs). These are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period. Learn more on how to apply and if you're eligible here.

Posted/Updated: 4/15/20



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