NJ unemployment $300 benefit taking longer than planned to pass out, Labor Department says
Starting this week, eligible workers who lost hours or jobs due to COVID-19 are expecting to receive an additional $300 a week in federal jobless benefits.
But it could take some time for the money to hit your bank account or debit card.
The state Labor Department says it expects to begin passing out the payments this week, but processing the payments is taking longer than planned.
"Processing these payments required new programming that had not previously been tested, and it is taking longer than anticipated for these payments to go through," said Labor Department spokesperson Angela Delli Santi.
Early Wednesday morning, New Jersey "intentionally took down" the state's unemployment certifying application to "consolidate resources into making the $300 payments," Delli Santi said.
"People who miss their weekly certification window can certify during any of the makeup times," Delli Santi said.
"We are working around the clock to serve all our customers, and to get these $300 payments to all eligible unemployed workers."
The certification app was expected to be back online by noon.
Roughly 800,000 workers in New Jersey who certify they lost work due to the pandemic, and collect more than $100 a week in state unemployment benefits, are eligible for up to $1,800 in federal jobless benefits.
The $300 a week covers lost wages between Aug. 1 and Sept. 5.
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As an unprecedented number of New Jersey workers filed for unemployment for the first time starting in March, the state system crashed multiple times, workers waited months to receive their entitled benefits, and in many cases, are still waiting for assistance.
The six weeks of benefits are a result of an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in August after congressional leaders could not agree on a way to replace weekly $600 expired benefits in the stimulus CARES Act.
When announcing New Jersey was participating in the program, New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo warned that implementation would be a challenge.
"Because this is an entirely new program ... for which we cannot use any of our current unemployment trust fund money, accounts, staff or infrastructure, it will not be easy or quick to get this additional money into the pockets of those who need it the most," Asaro-Angelo said in August.
Ashley Balcerzak is a reporter in the New Jersey Statehouse. For unlimited access to her work covering New Jersey’s legislature and political power structure, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.