[LWA payment delay update] While New Jersey has started paying out all the federally funded enhanced benefit programs enacted under the CARES act it is well behind in processing current and backdated payments on a regular schedule. This is a known issue as their systems are struggling to handle the spike in UI payments under various programs and addressing a surge in fraudulent claims. New Jersey’s unemployment remains higher than the United States as a whole reflective of how hard the state has been hit by the pandemic compared to other parts of the nation. However the good news, per the comments below, is that the number of new claims being processed has improved and more and more people are seeing the enhanced unemployment benefits on a more consistent basis.
The NJ Division of Unemployment Insurance (DUI) under the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) manages the states’ unemployment insurance program. See further details below on the newly enhanced benefits available now and how to file a claim. And per the official NJ DOL website, they are aware of the ongoing issues people are experiencing when filing claims and receiving payments on a timely manner.
Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program
NJ was approved by FEMA (on Sep 4th) for the $300 weekly payment under the LWA program, which provides supplemental payments to eligible unemployment benefits claimants who have been unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. Roughly 800,000 workers in New Jersey are eligible for up to $1,800 (or 6 weeks) in LWA benefits.
The NJ Labor Department (NJDOL) has confirmed that LWA payments have been successfully processed on October 21st and disbursed for payment. It could take 1 to 3 business days from this date to actually receive payments in your financial account or debit card due to processing times across financial intuitions,. As such, I expect payments should start appearing in accounts and cards from October 22nd to October 26th. This off course is for the first (main) batch of payments. People who verified late (after Sep 30th) or have had their account flagged (e.g for further processing or fraud) may see payments a few days or weeks later.
Latest Update – It appears that the majority of New Jerseyans are now seeing LWA payments in their bank accounts or debit cards. Check your pending transactions online as well, because that means your payment will be there shortly (within 1 business day generally). If you haven’t got your payment yet, don’t panic as they are still being processed in batches and could take till Monday or Tuesday to get to your account. Calling the NJ DOL/DUI is not going to help at this stage (impossible to get someone). See comments on this article for reader confirmations of the LWA payment across various banks.
From the article comments, many are still waiting on their LWA payment and I will continue to post new information and answer questions (along with the helpful community of readers) as if becomes available.
Why payments were late – Here is the latest quote from Labor Department spokesperson Angela Delli Santi on the delays, “Processing these [LWA] payments required new programming that had not previously been tested, and it is taking longer than anticipated for these payments to go through. People who miss their weekly certification window can certify during any of the make-up times. Early on 10/21, New Jersey “intentionally took down” the state’s unemployment certifying application to [fix issues] and consolidate resources into making the $300 payments.
How LWA payments get made by the NJ DOL: The LWA payment file is transmitted to Bank of America, NJ’s processing bank, then BOA disperses the payments to the direct deposit accounts and debit cards of claimants. This whole process can take 1 to 3 business days.
If your payment is not received by the end of October or is less than you expect you will need to contact someone at the NJ DOL/DUI to look into your claim and eligibility.
The delay in payments has been a source of frustration for many NJ claimants based on the comments on this post and this official update will be a relief to many. Delays were mainly due to the volume of erigibile claimants and the work on the system/application updates necessary for this program, which resulted in NJ being one of the last states to make this payment. More than 800,000 unemployed New Jersyans are eligible for LWA payments. Payments will be made as a lump sum and retroactive to August 1st for up to a maximum of 6 weeks (or $1800) of the approved FEMA funding.
You will need to complete a one time certification/attestation (via your UI portal) that your unemployment was due to COVID related disruptions to receive the LWA payment. However those who are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or regular unemployment (UI) who previously attested to this do not have to certify and will automatically get LWA payments after October 19th, the same way they currently get unemployment benefits. See more details on the NJ LWA page.
The new LWA payment is in addition to Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) payments currently available to unemployed workers.
COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits in New Jersey
Under the CARES act, there are three types of federal unemployment assistance now available:
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): expands eligibility for individuals who are typically ineligible for
Unemployment benefits, for example independent contractors, and self-employed and “gig” workers.
• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): provides an additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all recipients of Unemployment Insurance; retroactive to the week ending April 4, 2020. [Now Expired]
• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): provides an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to all recipients.
Double-digit unemployment amid COVID-19 has also triggered 20 weeks of extended benefits the state is permitted by federal law to offer to those who have exhausted all other state and federal unemployment aid without returning to work permanently
Web and/or phone issues with accessing the NJ Unemployment system
NJ’s Unemployment Insurance system is experiencing record levels of demand due to coronavirus and all in-person services statewide are currently closed due to COVID-19. Some people cannot get through online or on the phone. NJ DUI understands your anxiety and frustration, and we apologize. They are working diligently to serve all our customers and ask for your patience. Please keep trying.
Existing Claimants: receiving Unemployment due to the coronavirus emergency do not have to do anything except continue to certify weekly to receive the $600/week. The additional $600/week compensation will be issued beginning April 14, for the week of March 30. It will be a separate payment from your regular unemployment benefit, and will be available to those receiving benefits until July 25, 2020. Claimants that are eligible for extended benefits will be notified on how to claim these benefits. The 13-week extension will be automatically available to you after your current balance is exhausted.
The NJ DOL recently tweeted the following top two reasons your weekly benefits may suddenly stop (claim not payable):
1) you no longer qualify under federal law
2) you answer incorrectly on our mandated questionnaire
33,000 people did the second last week alone!
See more FAQs and details on NJ unemployment rules for the new enhanced benefits provisions.
Filing a Claim
To receive your unemployment insurance benefits, you must certify for benefits each week which you wish to receive benefits. You can only certify for benefits after the week has passed. Unemployment Insurance weeks begin on a Sunday and end at midnight on Saturday. You will certify for benefits according to the most recent schedule, based on the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN). In order for NJ DOL to process your weekly payment without delay, please follow the below guidelines when certifying for your benefits – to get your money – each week.
If there is a problem with your claim that must be resolved before benefits can be paid, or if you have been denied benefits and are appealing the determination, you must still certify for and claim your benefits. You will receive “credit” for the weeks which you have claimed. If it is determined that you are eligible or if you win your appeal, you will be paid these benefits at a later date. If you have not claimed benefits and you win your appeal, you will not be paid for these weeks.
To try and speak to a live representative around your claim you can try the following numbers (but expect long hold times)
• North Jersey: 201-601-4100
• Central Jersey: 732-761-2020
• Southern Jersey: 856-507-2340
In order to apply online for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you must have:
- Worked only in New Jersey in the last 18 months, or
- Worked in New Jersey and any other state(s) in the last 18 months, or
- Worked for the federal government and in New Jersey in the last 18 months, or
- Served in the military in the last 18 months and be physically present in New Jersey.
You can also apply by phone.
You will need the following information to apply:
- Social Security Number.
- Alien Registration Number (if you are not a US citizen).
- Pension information (if you are receiving any pension or 401k).
- Amount and duration of any separation pay you may be receiving.
- Recall date (if you expect to be recalled to your job).
- Union hiring hall information, including local number and address (if you get work through a union).
- Military Form DD-214 (if you were in the military in the last 18 months).
- Form SF-8 or SF-50 (if you were a federal employee).
NEW CERTIFIERS: If you received notification that your claim is payable, check our schedule page before you certify. Each week, the day and times to certify are staggered by Social Security number (SSN). The day and time assigned to your SSN may change, so check the schedule page each week.
If you miss your assigned time, there is a second window of time that is open to your SSN later on your assigned day.
Additionally, Friday and Saturday are open to certify for any Social Security number. If you miss these time slots, you may use the following week’s assigned time to certify for both the current and past week.
Tyler N posted on May 20th – To everyone including, I just wanted to let you know as of Monday May 11th it seems as if “JerseyLady” was correct in her comment. The $600 retroactive and weekly payments for claimants on PUA Benefits in the State of NJ come to you a week after you get your regular weekly benefit payment. As of this morning (exactly one week after I got my retroactive unemployment) I got a deposit for $3,000 which is all my retroactive FPUC money along with last weeks $600 FPUC payment. I’m just hoping they keep coming as this whole process has been nothing short of a nightmare. And I will be wishing the best for everyone else on here as well.
This article was updated on October 27