TRENTON, NJ — Workers who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits may now be eligible for an extension. The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said on May 19 that it has begun notifying some workers already receiving benefits that they may be eligible for a 13-week extension under the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.
The announcement comes on the heels of the department's report that it made nearly 140,000 additional claimants newly eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This includes a significant group of workers who had inadvertently suspended their benefits because of how they responded to the federally mandated weekly certification questions.
"We have completed the modifications to allow our unemployment insurance systems to process these applications," said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. "Many of these workers were unemployed before the pandemic began, and the current health crisis has obviously made their job search exponentially more difficult. We are pleased to able to now offer both extended benefits and the $600 weekly supplemental payment through the week of July 25 to help these workers through this difficult time."
Workers are being notified via email and text message that, if eligible, they will be able to certify for weekly benefits according to a schedule based on their Social Security number. The first group will be able to certify starting Sunday. This process will continue for several weeks.
Once approved, claimants will be able to certify for any back weeks they are eligible for up to the week that ends March 28, and will be able to claim the additional $600 supplement known as Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) starting with the week ending April 4.
Payments generally arrive in two business days after certifying. The supplemental payment arrives separately, several days later.
New Jersey joins all other states in having to design new systems and processes to distribute this new federal assistance. The state already has implemented other provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including PUC and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), for independent contractors, self-employed workers and those without sufficient income to qualify for regular unemployment.
The department continues to receive tens of thousands of customers per week responding to one or more certification questions in a way that makes their claim ineligible for benefits under federal law. These errors cause claimants see a sudden halt in their benefit payments. A claims agent must amend these claims to make benefits payable again. Filing guidelines can be found here.
It is estimated that by mid-June, the department will be processing more than 1 million unemployment claims per week, or approximately 180,000 payments per day due to the mass layoffs and temporary furloughs that accompanied the coronavirus health emergency.