Getting Back On Your Feet

Unemployment Benefits Tips:

  1. NJ Unemployment Benefits Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
  1. What is a DoL “White Card” or “Scan Card”?
    >> This is the white plastic ID card with a barcode on it that identifies you when you make use of NJ DoL facilities and services (and which then enables the DoL to measure the value of their offerings).
    [NJ DoL White Scan Card image]

Besides having this card and scanning it in each time you use DoL facilities or services, you must also be registered with the DoL in order to take advantage of their facilities and services.  (You don’t necessarily need to be receiving cash unemployment benefits in order to be eligible to use their job search support facilities and services.)

  1. What is the maximum duration of benefits including all the extensions?
    >> It depends on your particular circumstances, but can go to 1½ years if unemployment remains high and government funding lasts.
  2. What kinds of re-training assistance programs are available?
  3. What are the basic requirements of tuition waivers, tuition assistance and grants for in-transition persons?
    >> If you want to go back to school, start the application process as soon as possible. Check with the DoL for information on obtaining waivers, grants and/or assistance. (It can be challenging to get the timing right to qualify and register in time to attend classes.)
  4. What is the new COBRA (heath insurance for laid-off workers) assistance program the Obama administration introduced?

Researching Company Backgrounds:

  1. Where can I research the background of companies?
    >> Visit the company’s web site
    >> Google News for recent new stories
    >> Use Reference USA and other databases offered by NJ’s public libraries over the Internet
    >> Use LinkedIn to find people currently employed there (or better yet, formerly employed there), and then use your LinkedIn network to request a dialog with that person (or even Google them elsewhere until you find an direct email address or phone number to call).
    >>  and report “insider” comments

Retraining Tips:

  1. What are some of the easiest alternative careers to retrain for?
    >> The Lazy Man’s Way to Better Credentials, by Rachel Zupek, writer
  2. For those interested in transitioning to Not-for-Profit (“NFP”) professions, “The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers” can be found at:
    It is a free resource, described as for “mid-career transitioner”, a “re-careerer”, an “encore careerist”, a “bridger”, or a “sector switcher”.

Assistance Programs:

  1. Somerset County Board of Social Services for Assistance Programs.
    Main OfficeThe Somerset County Board of Social Services offers rental assistance to those who are eligible, as resources permit. If an individual is in an extreme situation resulting in homelessness, the Board of Social Services offers Emergency Response services to those who qualify.
  2. >>
  3. Phone: 908-526-8800 (main office)
    State of New Jersey Housing Division
    75 Veterans Memorial Drive Suite 203
    Somerville, NJ 08876
  4. JCP&L offers heating assistance to low income customers.
    >> Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) / Universal Service Fund (USF)
  5. PSE&G program helps NJ customers pay heating / electric bills.
    >> Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) / Universal Service Fund (USF) / The NJ Temporary Relief for Utility Expenses Grant (TRUE) Program
  6. How can NJ Shares help pay electric &/or gas bills when I’m suddenly in transition?

Note: NJ Shares is a budget-constrained program that runs out early every month, but replenished the next month.  Sometimes they don’t accept unemployment benefit check stubs as proof of meeting income requirements, but more often they do.

Housing/Rental Resources:

  1. Information about affordable housing can be accessed through the Somerset County Coalition on Affordable Housing (SCCOAH)SCCOAH provides free individual and group counseling to help low and moderate income households with their housing needs. 600 First Ave. , Suite 3, Raritan, NJ 08869, 908-704-8901
  2. Somerset County Coalition on Affordable Housing (Raritan, NJ)
  3. New Jersey Department of Community Affairs – New Jersey Housing Resource Center (NJHRC) 101 South Broad St., Trenton, NJ 08625, 609-633-6303.
    >> www.njhousing.govSomerville Municipal Housing Authority
    25 West End Ave., Somerville, NJ 08876
    908.725.2300Community Connections
    Provides info about HUD programs including: homeless prevention, first time buyer, veterans, low income and accessible affordable housing.
    >> Websites that provide support with Rental Assistance:STATE RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SRAP)
    >> Some charities try to help families cover their rent so they don’t have to become homeless, but their priority is families with children.  For instance, The Red Cross. If there is such emergency, the police in any town are able to help someone find shelter for a night or two.  They cannot do a long term solution but should have a list of resources for longer needs.
  4. State-run program may stave off mortgage payment problems.
    >> The New Jersey Home Keeper Program (NJHKP)

Nutritional Resources:

Work First New Jersey hotline: 1-800-792-9773

  1. New Jersey Food Stamps (NJ SNAP)
  2. >>
  3. Food Stamp Hotline Information & referral for federal programs
    Work First New Jersey hotline: 1-800-792-9773
    NJ SNAP hotline: 1-800-687-5512Food Bank Network of Somerset County
    Provides nutritionally sound food for needy residents
    P.O. Box 149, Bound Brook, NJ 08805, 732-560-1813Samaritan Homeless Interim Program (SHIP)
    Food bank, soup kitchen and mobile nutrition vehicle.
    87 East High Street, Somerville, NJ 08876, 908-725-3260The Salvation Army
    Provides nutritionally sound food for residents in emergency need.
    108 Hamilton Street, Bound Brook, NJ 08805, 732-748-1146Somerset County Women, Infant, and Children (WIC)
    Provides supplemental nutritious foods to eligible pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to the age of five.
    120 Finderne Ave., Bridgewater, NJ 08807, 908-685-8282

Emergency Assistance:

  1. P.S.E.&G., Inc. LIHEAP and USF Energy Assistance Programs, also known as Home and Energy Assistance Program-Heating & Cooling assistance to eligible residents, 800-510-3102
    >> Charities, Diocese of Metuchen-Family Financial Stability Program Services-Emergency financial assistance.  (limited funding availability).
    540 Route 22 E., Somerville, NJ 08876
    >> Housing and energy assistance.  350 Marshall St. Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
    877-661-HELP or 908-454-4850

NJ Financial Programs:

  1. Low income Home Energy Assistance Program – 1-800-510-3102The Universal Service Fund (USF) – Year round help for low income residents of NJ – 1-866-240-1347NJ Lifeline Credit Program – Help for seniors and disabled low-income residents of NJ – 1-800-792-9745NJ Shares – Help for residents going through SHORT-TERM financial problems – 1-866-657-4273. Location for application – 432 Lewis St, Somerset off Easton Ave.   Call: 732-846-9888.
    >> be advised funds in the reserve are limited and one of the determining factors in the $$$ benefit you may or may not receive in assistance.REQUIREMENTS FOR NJ SHARES:

    • Must complete application
    • Present SS Card
    • Energy Bill Must read:  SHUT NOTICE
    • Driver’s license
    • 2 consecutive Unemployment payment stubs


    • One Grant per calendar year
    • Must show good faith payment
    • Electric – $700.00 Grant Cap
    • Gas & Electric –  $1,000.00 Grant Cap
    • The amount given in grant payment is based on your balance due at the time of applying for the grant, and therefore determined on the monthly good faith payment you have been making to PSE&G.
    • If you hope to get the yearly grant dollar subsidy in full, be aware of the good faith payment you are making monthly.