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I'm not receiving as much in unemployment benefits as I thought I was entitled to. How can I appeal?

by J.S.
(New Jersey)

I'm from NJ. I worked for the ***** Casino for 26 years as a cocktail waitress. When closure was imminent, Unemployment held seminars and helped us thru the process. And the compensation amount was decent. The following April I got a job at a much lower pay scale (10/hr.). In Dec. my hours were cut and I easily reopened my claim. April, my original hours (20-25/wk.) resumed. I mistakenly thought this was full time and stopped claiming, figuring that way, the $$ would be there the following Dec. when I knew they'd again cut my hours. Having been to several of those unemployment classes thru the Sands, I thought I was totally informed of the Blue Book's contents. I also thought by simply discontinuing my weekly claims, that money would be there, like roll-over minutes. So when I reopened my claim, they said I had to open a new claim. And the pay rate is $167/wk. Then I heard about coworkers who'd never even applied for a job getting a third extension. I wrote to several departments at Unemployment. A man called and questioned me. When I explained he informed me that I must appeal. He gave me his name and phone # and sent me the appeal papers. I followed the process and a woman called to question the hour amounts I had submitted in this letter. (I had given my bi-weekly check amts. and hours which were Thur-Wed, not the Sun. thru Sat. that are their way.) She patiently waited on the phone while we redid each week together. She then asked why I'd stopped filing. She also asked if I'd read the Blue Book. Naturally, I explained. 3 days later I received a letter from her denying my request under the grounds that I stopped filing and admitted to not having read the blue book. I am aware I can appeal. I'm also aware that I was totally wrong on all my ideas. I know I never should have stopped filing. I'd would still be collecting at that original rate and I'd probably have been eligible for that extension. I've read several internet columns that state never stop filing or you won't receive benefits. As that is what I did, is there any possible way to


Hi Judy,

You have a monetary issue going on here and of course monetary determination can be appealed, but if you're already receiving benefits, I suspect you may of missed the deadline to appeal.

It sounds like your original NJ unemployment claim was opened around November or December of 2006. The date a person files a claim establishes the "benefit year" which is simply the 12 months a person can collect the 26 weeks of benefits throughout that 52 week period.

A weekly benefit amount is based on the wages earned during "base period". The standard BP is the first four of the last five COMPLETED quarters relative to the quarter a claim is filed in.

So, the state was looking at your wages between 7/1/05 - 6/30/06. They determined the high earning quarter within those dates to determine the weekly benefit amount (WBA).

The problem is that when you found a part-time job that paid less you stopped filing when you could have potentially continued receiving partial unemployment benefits.

New Jersey would have paid partial benefits if your earnings were less than your WBA + one fifth of your WBA, because that's what the formula was in 2006. But instead you just stopped claiming.

You are now presented with having to establish a new benefit year....and that is also a problem because they are looking at different base period of wages. They are now looking at a high earning quarter with wages from a part-time job. (I'm assuming you filed a new claim in 12/08 which would now make the base period 7/1/07 - 6/30/08 and they are again figuring your WBA from an average of your highest earning quarter....which is now the lower part-time wages.

You are right. If you had continued to file for continued partial unemployment benefits you could have received extensions also.

I'm sorry I don't have some miraculous cure for your situation. The complexity of benefit years and base periods messes many people up. The lag period created by the standard base period also creates a lot of hardship for many people who are just honest and hardworking. The real reason they do this is to prevent people from cheating the certainly isn't to give any advantage to the unemployed.


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