The more than 75,000 unemployment claimants who have exhausted their benefits and have been anticipating the latest federally funded extension will be notified by email this weekend that they will be able to resume certifying for benefits during their regular schedule, and will begin receiving benefits on their regular schedule, the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced Saturday.
The DOL said Saturday morning that it was able to successfully complete testing earlier than anticipated to program the 11-week benefits extension for the more than 75,000 people showing benefits had expired.
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo explained the timeline — and the key to the upcoming March 13 deadline.
“While we welcome the additional relief for our claimants, the new stimulus relief was signed after CARES Act benefits had ended — too late for most states to program their systems to prevent a lapse in benefits for all claimants,” he said. “This current extension ends on March 13. We urge Congress to act sooner and to provide long-term relief, so our claimants are not in a similar situation next month.”
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Asaro-Angelo appeared with Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday, when he explained that the DOL prioritizes getting the most money out to the most claimants. Thus, when additional funds were made available through the Continued Assistance Act for Unemployed Workers in late December, the Department prioritized processing the $300 weekly unemployment supplement because it benefits every unemployed worker receiving benefits.
The next challenge was to reprogram systems so the majority of claimants could transition seamlessly to the 11-week extension, as required by federal law. That has also been completed successfully.
There was a small subset of about 75,000 claimants, less than 5% of the total, whose benefits had expired and whose claims needed the 11 weeks added. That programming, too, has now been completed, Asaro-Angelo said.
“I want to commend our IT Division for its outstanding work to complete this programming earlier than anticipated,” he said. “We are all public servants. We are here to help people in need. It has always been our sole focus to get these benefits into residents’ bank accounts as quickly as possible.”