TRENTON – Still reviewing unemployment claims filed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced what it calls “the first of many improvements” to streamline the filing process.
Updating the online application – allowing workers to easily apply from a mobile phone – as well as improving accessibility for users are part of a federal improvement pilot project, a said state labor commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo in a written statement.
The upgrades were “made possible by U.S. bailout funds and advocacy from the New Jersey congressional delegation,” he continued.
An underlying problem was that certain application issues were often misunderstood.
Unclear answers left applicants waiting to find out if they were eligible for benefits. In the meantime, the state could not release the payments until the worker clarified his answers.
Simplified questions, larger text and answer buttons, and the introduction of “help text” are among the first round of improvements, after state and federal government teams worked alongside New Jersey residents and observed the process in “real time”, according to Asaro-Angelo. .
User testing involving New Jersey workers and unemployment insurance claimants has helped the state revise the system several times.
During a Senate hearing in March, Asaro-Angelo said the confusing system was a big part of residents’ frustration — as was the fact that about 20% of people who file benefit claims aren’t eligible. – more than 400,000 in two years. since COVID hit.
He also said the state had to follow protocols backed by the US Department of Labor.
“I am deeply grateful that Secretary Walsh and USDOL have the confidence in New Jersey to partner with us on this remarkable modernization project,” Asaro-Angelo said in the same written statement.
The state’s labor website currently offers a step-by-step guide that includes 15 points — from reading frequently asked questions in the pandemic era to what to expect when benefits end.
Last month, the state Department of Labor began scheduling in-person appointments, for the first time since March 2020, to help people having trouble with their unemployment claims.
Appointments are made at 12 of the state’s one-stop career centers.
No walk-in is served.
With previous reports by Michael Symons
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at [email protected]
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