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Madden/Beach Bill Providing Unemployment Benefits To Service Members Clears Committee

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Fred Madden (D – Gloucester, Camden) and Jim Beach (D – Camden) that would provide unemployment benefits to veterans who have not been able to find work after leaving the military cleared the Senate Labor Committee today.

The bill, S1712, would provide supplemental unemployment benefits to an ex-service member who has exhausted his or her federal unemployment benefits.

“Unfortunately, it is all too common for our servicemen and women to leave the military and not be able to find a job,” said Madden, chair of the Labor Committee. “While we are doing all we can to correct that problem, in the meantime, we have to provide a means of support for these individuals so they can support themselves and their families. For all they have done for their country, they deserve nothing less.”

“It should not be too much for people who have sacrificed for their country to be able to find a job. Unfortunately, the current state of the economy in New Jersey is making it more difficult than ever for our servicemen and women to join the workforce. This legislation will at least provide them a much needed boost to keep them going while we do our part to get the economy moving again,” said Beach, chair of the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Currently, a service member separating from active duty may qualify for unemployment compensation through the federal Unemployment Compensation for Ex-service members (UCX) program if he or she is unable to find a job. The program, while sponsored by the federal government, is run through individual states.

After federal UCX benefits expire, veterans may not qualify for state unemployment benefits if they have not established the required number of base weeks worked in New Jersey, or if the amount of contributions by them or their employer into the state’s unemployment insurance system have not met the statutory minimum.

Under New Jersey law an individual must have worked at least 20 base weeks in covered employment or have earned $7,300 in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits. A base week, in 2010, 2011, and 2012, requires minimum weekly earnings of $145.

If the veteran’s federal UCX benefits expire prior to the 26 week maximum, the bill would provide additional unemployment benefits up to the maximum 26 weeks, regardless of where they stand in terms of having compiled the necessary number of base weeks. Employers also would not be charged extra for the benefits.

The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

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