TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner expediting unemployment benefits for residents who have filed a claim with the state was approved by the Senate Labor Committee today.
The bill, S-1564, would require 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 in which the claim is received by the division.
“My office has received numerous complaints from constituents regarding significant delays with the processing of unemployment benefits claims,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Many callers have had to wait 5-6 weeks before receiving a claim decision. That’s an eternity when you have no income, and you have children to feed and bills to pay.”
S-1564 ensures that the initial determination of benefits is made in a timely fashion so people who are unemployed will receive their benefits sooner. Under current law, the initial determination is required to be made “promptly,” but no time period is specified.
“Unemployment benefits provide a temporary cushion to help mitigate the hardship of losing an income,” said Senator Turner. “However, when our system stalls and delays benefits, the fall to unemployment is particularly hard, especially for individuals with young children. Having to wait six to eight weeks is not just an inconvenience–it’s a system failure. Workers contribute to the unemployment insurance fund, and when they’re eligible for benefits, they should receive them promptly. We need to remove the hurdles that are preventing workers from receiving their benefits in a timely manner.”
The legislation passed 4-0. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.