TRENTON, NJ - *This article was originally published by ROI-nj.com. Created by Prospect Publishing Group and led by longtime industry leaders Tom Bergeron and Tom Hughes; ROI-NJ delivers real-time news and features that provide New Jersey’s diverse business community with a Return On Information, while creating dynamic engagements among influencers.  It is shared here because of the impactful information in this article provided by East Brunswick resident New Jersey Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.

Why is it taking so long to get my claim processed? … Why can’t I get through when I call? … How are all these claims going to impact my business — and can I, as an owner, get benefits myself? … Who is eligible for the extra $600 dollars in benefits and what do you have to do to get it? … How does the pandemic unemployment assistance program work and who is eligible for it? … How do I get a new PIN or password? … And, again, why is this taking so long?

Questions. There are so many questions around unemployment insurance benefits, the $600 additional benefit — and the pandemic unemployment assistance program, which has been designed to help those who are not eligible for traditional benefits.

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New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo joined ROI-NJ for a webinar sponsored by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and Withum last week. In a fast-paced hour, Asaro-Angelo answered approximately 60 questions.

We transcribed the questions and his answers, breaking them into three categories:

  • A Q&A that would apply to everyone (see below);
  • A Q&A of interest specifically to employees (click here);
  • A Q&A pertinent to owners/independent contractors (click here).

Asaro-Angelo explained the steps the Department of Labor & Workforce Development is taking to increase its ability to respond to residents as it copes with the unprecedented number of claims — which jumped from approximately 8,000 per week to as many as 250,000.

Asaro-Angelo said the percentage of “clean claims” — those that go through without issue, has remained the same, roughly 50%.

Claims that do not go through cleanly are sent to an agent for a number of reasons, including the failure to properly fill out the form (such as an incorrect Social Security number), an unintentional error (perhaps a discrepancy between the employee and employer on the last day of work) or any other issues.

Then there’s this: The number of phone lines (more than 2,000 at this point) are jammed with people calling to ask questions about eligibility for existing programs and the new COVID-19 specific programs (five were established almost overnight) — or to retrieve/change PINs and passwords they may have set up at previous times.

Asaro-Angelo promises that all benefits will be paid (and backdated so they are paid in full), regardless of when they are pushed through the system. And he estimates that nearly 70% of all claims that have been held up have been processed — and often processed without the need to call the person filing the claim.

Despite this, Asaro-Angelo said he recognizes that any or all of these facts do not matter to someone eager to get benefits — and answers.

With that in mind, the DOL has established a number of FAQ sheets it hopes will bring answers. And Asaro-Angelo did this webinar in an effort to answer more specific questions.

The Q&A from the webinar that will apply to everyone, edited from the original broadcast as needed for content, context or clarity, appears here.