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Assembly Panel Approves Johnson, Vainieri Huttle & Benson Bill to Ensure Future Eligible Claimants Receive All Unemployment Benefits

(TRENTON) – Under current New Jersey regulations, a person who files an unemployment claim receives benefits effective the Sunday before they filed the claim. If someone does not file their claim the week they become unemployed, they miss out on benefits for which they are rightfully eligible.

To help future claimants seeking unemployment benefits, particularly as New Jersey recovers from the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Assembly Labor Committee on Thursday approved legislation to ensure out-of-work residents who file unemployment claims after February 1, 2021 receive benefits retroactive to the date they became unemployed. The measure is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex).

The bill (A-4534) would provide that the effective date of a claim for unemployment benefits will be the date an individual becomes unemployed or experiences a reduction in work hours, unless the claimant waits more than six months to file for unemployment benefits.

The bill also would provide that if a determination is not made within sixty days of the date of the filing of claimant’s claim, the claimant would be entitled to the maximum weekly benefit under the law.

The sponsors of the measure released the following joint statement:

“Approximately 1.6 million New Jersey workers have filed for unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s reasonable to expect more will file in the future. Some will navigate the unemployment system for the first time and may not be aware their claim will not be retroactive to the date they became unemployed if they don’t file within the first week.

“Losing a job takes a personal and financial toll on a worker and their families. In these difficult times, we must treat one another with flexibility and understanding. This legislation will provide ample time for individuals seeking unemployment benefits after February 1, 2021 to file claims and receive benefits that accurately reflect when they lost their job. Most importantly, it will help people get back on their feet as they search for new employment.”