TRENTON, NJ - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Joseph Danielsen, James Holley, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey to establish a deadline for the issuance of determination notices to applicants for unemployment benefits was recently signed into law.

 “When someone’s out of a job and facing financial hardship, unemployment benefits may be the only thing that keeps the lights on and puts food on the table,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Making sure people get their benefits sooner will limit the strain on jobless workers as they try to get back on their feet.” 

The new law (formerly bill A-3438) requires the Division of Unemployment and Temporary Disability Insurance in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to make the initial determination of a claim for unemployment benefits and notify the claimant no later than three weeks from the date when the claim is received. Under previous law, such a determination must be made “promptly” but no time period is specified.

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“Every day expenses don’t go away when you become unemployed,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Unemployment benefits are there for a reason. People who have lost their jobs and still have to make ends meet should not have to wait indefinitely to receive their benefits.”

“The lack of specificity in the current law can lead to delays that can make an already bad situation worse,” said Holley (D-Union). “Providing a timeline helps ensure that individuals who are unemployed, and need these benefits to cover basic expenses can get them sooner than later.”

“Delaying these benefits makes an already bad situation worse for people who have no other source of steady income to cover their living expenses,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “Speeding up the payment of unemployment claims can help these individuals get by until they find work.”

“Individuals who become unemployed rely on unemployment benefits to pay bills and meet daily expenses,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Ensuring that the initial determination of benefits is made in a timely fashion will help them receive their benefits sooner.”

The Assembly passed the measure in February, 66-4. The bill was signed into law on Friday, July 21.