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How long does it take to get paid from NJ lottery winnings?

Quick Answer

It typically takes 4-6 weeks to receive payment from the New Jersey Lottery for lottery winnings under $50,000. For winnings over $50,000, it can take up to 12 weeks or longer depending on the amount and whether you choose the cash option or annuity payments. The lottery has to verify your ticket and process the claim before sending payment.

How Long Does it Take to Get Paid for Smaller Prizes Under $50,000?

For New Jersey Lottery prizes under $50,000, the standard wait time to receive your winnings is 4-6 weeks. Here is a breakdown of the typical timeline:

  • 1-2 weeks for the lottery to validate your claim and ticket.
  • 2-4 weeks for the lottery to process payment and mail your check.

So within about 1 month or so after claiming your prize, you should receive a check by mail. The New Jersey Lottery will not begin processing your claim until you sign the back of your winning ticket and fill out a claim form. This can be done at any lottery retailer in the state or by mail.

Be sure to make copies of both sides of your signed ticket and your claim form before mailing it. Send the originals to the lottery office and keep the copies for your records. Once the lottery verifies the ticket is a winner, they will process payment in 4-6 weeks as long as everything checks out.

Reasons for Delays

While the standard timeline is 4-6 weeks, delays can happen. Here are some common reasons it may take longer than expected:

  • Incomplete claim form – Double check you filled out the form correctly.
  • Lost ticket – If you lose your ticket, it takes additional time to confirm a replacement ticket is valid.
  • Game closure – Some instant scratch-off games take longer to pay if the game has ended and prizes are being finalized.
  • Backlogs – During busier times, more claims can lead to processing delays.
  • Incorrect mailing address – Make sure your address is current so you receive the check.

To avoid delays, be sure to fill out your claim carefully, sign your ticket, keep both the ticket and claim form in a safe place, and promptly cash your ticket rather than waiting until the last day. Prizes expire one year from the game’s end date if unclaimed.

How Long for Larger Prizes Over $50,000

For larger lottery prizes over $50,000, including jackpot wins, the timeline to get paid can take up to 12 weeks or longer. Here’s why:

  • More review – Larger prizes go through extra validation and security checks.
  • Tax forms – You must complete tax paperwork so taxes can be withheld.
  • Payment choice – You choose cash or annuity, which have different processes.
  • Publicity – Lotteries coordinate press conferences and media interviews for jackpots.

After you claim the ticket, it takes about 2-4 weeks for the first payment if you choose the cash option. But if you choose the annuity payment option, it may take up to 12 weeks or longer for the annual payments to begin. Either way, the lottery has to conduct background checks, you have to decide on a payment method, taxes have to be sorted, and more.

Claiming Large Prizes

Here are some tips when claiming large jackpot or scratch-off prizes:

  • Sign the back immediately – This establishes ownership.
  • Keep it very safe – Consider a bank safe deposit box.
  • Get legal and financial advice – Decide the payment method.
  • Allow extra processing time – Be patient as they verify and process.

The lottery will work with you on coordinating next steps. Be sure to communicate if you need to expedite payment for any reason.

How to Claim Your NJ Lottery Winnings

Claiming your New Jersey Lottery winnings involves a few simple steps. Here is how to claim either small or large prizes:

  1. Sign your winning ticket – Sign the back of the ticket immediately so only you can claim it.
  2. Fill out a claim form – Forms are at lottery retailers or can be printed from the lottery website.
  3. Provide identification – Bring valid ID such as a driver’s license when claiming in person.
  4. Double check your paperwork – Make sure all info is correct before submitting.
  5. Make copies – Photocopy both sides of the signed ticket and your claim form.
  6. Submit the claim – Either at a lottery retailer, by mail, or in person at the lottery headquarters.

Be sure to get a claim receipt with a confirmation number when you turn in the ticket. You can use the number to check the status of your payment during processing. If you claim by mail, send via certified mail or registered mail so you have tracking records.

It’s important to sign the ticket immediately before storing it in a very safe place. This prevents anyone else from claiming your prize. Some people choose to keep their signed ticket in a safe deposit box until ready to turn it in.

Claiming Expired Tickets

For winning tickets that expired before you claimed them, you can still turn them in but the process takes longer. You will need to submit a Claim Expired Ticket form with evidence for why you should still receive payment.

The lottery will review on a case by case basis. Reasons like health emergencies, military service, or natural disasters may be accepted. But expired tickets become much harder to claim, so cash them promptly.

New Jersey Lottery Payment Options

For large lottery winnings in New Jersey, you get to choose between two payment methods:

  • Cash Option – Get your full winnings in one lump sum payment, minus taxes.
  • Annuity Option – Receive the full amount in annual installments over 29 years.

The annuity option gets you the full advertised jackpot amount, while the cash option is a reduced one-time payment. Taxes take out about one-third right away for both options.

Here’s an example for a $100 million jackpot:

Cash Option

  • Pre-tax Cash Payment: $66.6 million
  • After 24% Federal Tax Withholding: $50.6 million
  • After 8% State Tax Withholding: $46.6 million

Annuity Option

  • Annual Payment Over 29 Years: $3.45 million
  • Total Amount After 29 Years: $100 million

The annuity provides more money over the long run but you have to wait for each annual payment. The cash option gives you immediate spending power in one lump sum.

Choosing Cash or Annuity

There are pros and cons to each payment method:

Cash Option Pros

  • Can invest the lump sum to potentially earn more money
  • Have access to the full amount immediately
  • Avoid long-term risk and uncertainty

Cash Option Cons

  • Reduced winnings after taxes taken out immediately
  • Requires financial discipline to manage large lump sum
  • May be taxed at higher rate than annuity

Annuity Option Pros

  • Receive the full jackpot amount
  • Annual payments are a fixed reliable income
  • Lower annual tax rate than lump sum payment

Annuity Option Cons

  • Must wait for first payment 12+ weeks after claiming
  • No flexibility or lump sum access
  • May not earn as much over 29 years as investing cash would

Consult with financial and legal advisors to decide which is best for you based on your situation. You may also split the payment if you want some cash upfront and the rest as an annuity.

How Taxes Affect Lottery Winnings in New Jersey

Lottery winnings in New Jersey and other states are subject to both federal and state taxes. This reduces the amount you actually receive. Here’s how lottery taxes work:

  • Federal tax – 24% is withheld for federal taxes immediately for winnings over $5,000.
  • State tax – 8% is withheld for New Jersey state income tax on amounts over $10,000.
  • Additional taxes – You pay any extra owed when filing returns at the end of the tax year.

So a $1 million jackpot has $240,000 (24%) withheld for federal tax and $80,000 (8%) for state tax, leaving you with $680,000 before any additional taxes you owe based on your filing status.

Tax Rates

Lottery winnings face the highest federal tax bracket of 37% and may also be subject to:

  • Net Investment Income Tax of 3.8%
  • Additional Medicare Tax of 0.9%

You may be able to reduce your top tax rate by spreading winnings over multiple years. State taxes also apply where you reside and where the winning ticket was purchased.

Minimizing Taxes

A few tips to reduce taxes on lottery winnings include:

  • Select the annuity option – Annual installments have lower rates than a lump sum.
  • Contribute to retirement accounts – This reduces your taxable income.
  • Offset wins with deductions – Deduct mortgage interest, donations, medical costs.
  • Work with a tax professional – They can help minimize owed taxes.

Be sure to set aside a portion of your winnings to pay expected taxes rather than spending it all. The lottery will withhold initial taxes, but you likely will owe additional amounts.

Remaining Anonymous

In New Jersey, lottery winners cannot remain anonymous. The Open Public Records Act requires the New Jersey Lottery to release the name and hometown of any winner of over $10,000.

This makes it impossible to claim a major jackpot while keeping your identity private. The lottery will publicize winners of large prizes.

However, there are a few things you can do to maintain privacy:

  • Claim as a trust – Have a lawyer set up an anonymous trust to claim the ticket.
  • Use a PO box – Have your name released but not your home address.
  • Avoid publicity – Decline to participate in press conferences and interviews.
  • Keep a low profile – Limit social media and move from your home if feasible.

While full anonymity is not an option, minimizing exposure can help maintain normalcy in your life after a big lottery win.

Getting Professional Help

For large lottery jackpot wins, it’s highly recommended to work with financial advisors and legal counsel. This can help you responsibly manage your money and handle publicity.

Here are some pros to work with:

  • Lawyer – Provides guidance on legal issues like taxes and estate planning.
  • Financial planner – Develops a wise investment and money strategy.
  • Accountant – Handles tax documentation and preparation.
  • Investment advisor – Manages lump sum proceeds and annual payments.

The New Jersey Lottery suggests big winners consult qualified professionals. This team can help you navigate major decisions, paperwork, taxes, publicity, and more.

Beware of Scams

Unfortunately, big lottery winners are often targeted by scammers and predatory companies. Watch out for:

  • Fake advisors asking for upfront fees
  • Companies pushing risky investments
  • Relatives and friends asking for large gifts
  • Threats or harassment for money

Carefully research any professionals you plan to work with. Get references and consult attorneys before making major financial decisions or gifts.


Claiming lottery prizes in New Jersey takes 4-6 weeks for smaller amounts under $50,000. But for jackpots and prizes over $50,000, it can take up to 12 weeks or longer to receive your full payment. Be sure to sign your ticket, make copies for records, and file your claim promptly. Working with financial and legal guidance can help you responsibly manage lottery winnings while maintaining your privacy. With the proper precautions, your lottery win can set you up for life rather than causing loss or hardship.