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Senator Turner discussing a bill on the Senate floor.

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-3217 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.

“Unfortunately there are still too many people in the state of New Jersey who are unemployed,” said Senator Turner (DHunterdon/Mercer). “Many of these individuals are experiencing the frustration of having to listen to voice recordings due to a ‘high call volume’ rather than having their claims dealt with in a timely manner. The process is not only frustrating and stressful but also disheartening. This bill will require decision-makers to act quickly in making a determination so that residents get access to their benefits in a reasonable amount of time.”

The bill comes after reports of long wait times experienced by people trying to file for unemployment benefits. A news report published in the Asbury Park Press earlier this year detailed the delays, and cited sudden layoffs from furloughed teachers and retail employees as some of the main reasons for the sharp increase.

“This legislation will help our residents get the money due to them, but will be particularly beneficial to lower paid individuals  who are struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. These are people who cannot afford to wait weeks on end for their benefits,” said Senator Turner. “These are benefits they are entitled to and they rely on; it is a lifeline for many people and our state has to do a better job of getting these individuals answers.”

S-3217 ensures that the initial determination of benefits is made in a timely fashion so people who are unemployed will receive their benefits sooner.

The legislation passed 3-0. It now heads to the Budget Committee for consideration.