N.J. starts in-person help for unemployment claimants
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo thought the fairest process was to give claimants who have been waiting the longest for help first crack at in-person assistance, a department spokeswoman said. (Courtesy of New Jersey Governor's Office)
People with outstanding unemployment claims can now schedule in-person appointments at one-stop career centers across the state.
Lawmakers have repeatedly called on the department to launch in-person appointments to help residents struggling to get their benefits. For over two years, legislators said their offices have been inundated with complaints from residents who say their claims are in limbo.
Previously, in-person appointments were only available if initiated by the Department of Labor.
Since March, labor officials have been selecting claimants with long-standing claim issues for in-person appointments with unemployment agents. Now that the claimants who have been waiting the longest to resolve their outstanding issues have been given a chance for in-person appointments, the system is now open to any claimant.
Department of Labor Angela Delli-Santi said in a statement to the New Jersey Monitor that the department’s commissioner, Robert Asaro-Angelo, thought this was the “fairest, most equitable process.”
Since the Labor Department began reaching out to claimants in March, more than 22,000 appointments have been scheduled, including 4,800 in July, she said.
Roughly 1,740 half-hour appointments are available per week at any of the dozen one-stop career centers in the state. Appointments can be made between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Go to myunemployment.nj.gov and click “Check claim status.”
Sign in to your account.
Select “Schedule appointment online.”
Select “UI In-Person, 30 minutes.”
Select the one-stop office where you would like your appointment to be.
Select the date and time.
Complete the applicant information and click submit.
A screen will appear confirming your appointment.
In-person appointments won’t help with claimants who filed appeals and are awaiting their hearing date, or for people who haven’t completed identity verifications.
The self-scheduling was soft-launched this month to ensure the agents at career centers could handle the volume of appointments, test the timeframe agents need to work with claimants, and be sure people can be seen quickly, Delli-Santi said.
State officials maintain the online system remains the most efficient way to file for benefits, but Delli-Santi said they understand “not everyone has the technology, the internet access, or the skills to navigate the system without assistance from one of our agents.”
Jobless claims surged at the start of the pandemic, leading to a backlog of claims and major delays in people receiving their benefits, though the overwhelming majority have been resolved now.
A bill on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk would require in-person appointments to be available for workers who need help with ID verification, filing a claim, or filing an appeal, and for people who need information on their claim. It would also require the Department of Labor to respond to questions about claims within three weeks. Murphy hasn’t signaled if he will veto or sign the bill.
“Our mission has been — and continues to be — to get the most benefits to the most eligible claimants as quickly as possible,” Delli-Santi said.
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