It is no secret that we’re in the midst of a public health emergency. However, an unintended consequence of this is the economic emergency it has caused in every corner of our state, as well. There isn’t an industry, business, or worker who has not been impacted in some way by COVID-19.
Last week, I wrote about federal, state, and county government programs that are available to our small businesses so they can seek financial relief during our current public health emergency. This week, I’d like to focus on the help that is out there for our workers – those who were either laid-off or lost their jobs because of COVID-19, who are home caring for a loved one who is ill with COVID-19, amongst other scenarios.
However, before I discuss these programs, please – and this goes without saying – do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you need help. You can reach us by leaving a message at 856-234-2790 or by emailing SenSingleton@njleg.org and a member of Team Troy will get back to you.
WHAT WORKER PROTECTION PROGRAMS DO I QUALIFY FOR?
The New Jersey Department of Labor has a helpful chart that will help you determine which program you are eligible for: unemployment, family leave, earned sick time, or workers compensation. The chart below is a useful tool. For more info visit: https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covid.shtml
HOW DO I FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT?:
The majority of people who have reached out to our office the past few weeks need help filing their unemployment benefits, or with getting an answer from the NJ Department of Labor on the status of their benefit. The NJ Department of Labor is encouraging anyone seeking benefits to apply on their website: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/
However, we know this can be a daunting and frustrating experience, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the process because they have never applied before. Consider this: more than 371,000 New Jerseyans have filed for unemployment in the past two weeks. The volume of people now out of work is unprecedented. They know there are many questions out there, so they have created an extensive Q&A to help you find answers: https://www.nj.gov/labor/assets/PDFs/NJWorkersFAQs.pdf. And if you still need help, please reach out to my office and a member of our team can help you.
HOW DO I CLAIM MY BENEFITS?
Once you apply and are approved for benefits, you will need to certify (claim) your benefits each week you wish to receive benefits. The “week” begins on a Sunday and ends at midnight on Saturday. The NJDOL has implemented a staggered schedule based on the last four digits of your social security number to help spread the volume of people certifying their benefits, which can be viewed here: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/schedule.shtml
Here is a step-by-step guide from the NJDOL website:
Step 1: Log Into Your Account: Log into your online dashboard and click the link that says "Certify for Weekly Benefits." This service is available daily during the following hours: Sunday 8AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday from 7AM to 6PM, and Saturday from 8AM to 3PM.
Step 2: Complete the Certification: The application to certify for and claim your weekly benefits will open in a new window. Read the information, then click the "Continue" button at the bottom of the page. On the next page, after reading the disclaimer, click the button underneath "To Claim Weekly Unemployment Benefits" at the bottom of the page.
Step 3: Enter your SSN and Create PIN: The first time you certify for benefits online, you'll need to create a 4-digit PIN after entering your Social Security number.
Step 4: Answer Certification Questions: After you enter your PIN, you'll be taken to a page of certification questions to confirm your continued eligibility for benefits. Answer the certifications questions and click “Submit.”
Step 5: Email Confirmation: After the confirmation page is displayed, the system will send an automatic confirmation notice to the email address associated with your account.
LOOKING FOR WORK?
If you’re out of work because of the COVID-19 crisis, but want to find a new job, there are over 49,000 job postings by more than 600 companies in critical industries on the State’s COVID19 website. Businesses across New Jersey need help now. You can view available positions and apply here: https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov/
In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone to continue social distancing, stay home, wear cloth masks when heading out for essential items, and wash your hands thoroughly. We are in this together. We are Jersey Strong.