All lump sum payments connected to the additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits have been processed and should be received by claimants by the end of the week, the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced Thursday.
Those eligible will receive up to $1,800.
The money comes from the FEMA Lost Wages Assistance program, a limited-time federal program that paid supplemental benefits to most workers unemployed during the weeks ending Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 for a COVID-19 related reason.
The benefit is $300 per week for up to six weeks, for a maximum payment of $1,800. Claimants will have it in their bank account in the next two days, depending on the processing speed of their individual bank.
The Labor Department announced last week that 800,000-plus claimants were unemployed for at least part of the six-week period covered by the federal program and would be eligible. Most had already declared their joblessness to be COVID-related, and thus were in line to receive the benefit automatically.
Those who had not affirmed a COVID-related reason for their unemployment were required to provide an attestation by Oct. 16. Those claimants received emails, text messages and calls from the department with instructions.
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said he is thrilled to be able to get the additional funds to those in need. The process, however, was not easy — as this was a newly created program.
“Processing these payments required us to develop new programming that had not been tested previously, and it took longer than anticipated for the payments to go through,” Asaro-Angelo said in a statement.
“Our team worked around the clock to get this extra help to hundreds of thousands of people in our state who are in dire need because COVID-19 has upended their work situations.”
Because this is a federal program, the New Jersey DOL has no control over whether additional funds will be released for another round of payments.
The NJDOL has received 1.7 million unemployment applications since mid-March, including 28,669 new claims for the week ending Oct. 17, a 1% decline from the prior week. Roughly 1.45 million applicants have met the monetary requirements for benefits, and 96% have received payment.
The department has distributed $16.7 billion in unemployment benefits during the pandemic, including $256 million last week. Benefits to the average worker top $12,000, the DOL said.