A New Jersey Senate Committee has finally taken action to prod the NJ Department of Labor to reduce a lengthy backlog of unemployment appeals. Currently, an unemployed individual who is appealing a denial of benefits can wait as long as 6 months for a hearing. This delay may cost the unemployed worker his or her home, car, health care coverage, or force them into a position where their credit rating is all but destroyed.
A bill sponsored by Senate Economic Growth Committee Chairman Raymond J. Lesniak and Senate Labor Committee Chairman Fred Madden would require the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to rule on an unemployment insurance appeal within 60 days of receiving the appeal. If the Department does not make a determination on the appeal within 60 days, the claimant would be paid any withheld unemployment benefits and would begin receiving benefits as they would normally accrue under the unemployment compensation law. If the Department decides, after the 60 day deadline has passed, that the claimant is legitimately ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits, then the benefits may be modified or denied from that point forward, but any funds that were withheld and paid out resulting from the Department’s delay would not have to be repaid, unless funds were paid as a result of intentional fraud by the claimant.
We are pleased to report that this bill, S-2212, was approved by the Labor Committee by a vote of 3-0. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration. We will be tracking this bill closely so check our blog for any updates.