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Important FAQs from the LRRC: Benefits re-certification issue and more

Submitted by the LRRC: Dear Clients,

The social service needs of Lakewood follow specific patterns. For example, during Open Enrollment, requests for appointments surge to three times more than other months. Additionally, many of our clients only have time to address and resolve issues during school and university breaks, leading to increased call volume during those times. Over the past three years, the LRRC has added caseworkers and built efficiencies into our system to manage these peak times so we can help everyone without creating longer wait times or shorter appointments for our clients.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has severely tested our capacity. Despite our caseworkers putting in extra hours to help many thousands of individuals access social service programs, we still found ourselves struggling to meet the overwhelming demand. We know how important it is for families to access resources that are available during this time, and we are working as hard as we can to meet the need. We also know that it was difficult to get through to us, and we appreciated your patience as we did our best to respond to the exponential increase in calls. We are training additional volunteers and staff, and we will expect to have much more availability over the coming weeks. Furthermore, we received a lot of positive feedback from our FAQs and would like to thank those that took the time to review our responses before contacting us.

Below please find answers to the most common questions we received over the past week, as well as a link to the complete FAQ document, which we are continually updating.

Wishing you continued health and well-being,

The LRRC Staff

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I checked the certification schedule on the Unemployment website, and I see that I am supposed to certify for benefits on Shavuos. The makeup time is on Shabbos. What can I do?

We have brought this issue to the attention of the Department of Labor. They have reassured us that anyone not able to certify during their assigned time slot or during a make up time should not worry. The next time you can certify (after Shavuos), you will have the opportunity to certify for the week you missed.

49. When should I start certifying for benefits? (Updated 5/25/2020)

You will likely receive an e-mail or letter with instructions about when to start certifying. This letter is an auto-generated letter instructing you to start certifying for benefits 17 days after the date of your claim. Due to record high claim volume, chances are your claim will not be processed and ready for weekly benefits certification by then. Therefore, if you try certifying for benefits based on their instructions but are told your claim cannot be processed, do not panic.Instead, check your claim status here: https://lwdwebpt.dol.state.nj.us/ClaimStatus/claimStatus.htm. If your claim is pending, or your benefit amount is zero, you will not be able to certify for benefits. As soon as your status shows filed with a benefit amount other than $0 you should start claiming based on the schedule. Once your claim is processed, you will be able to claim benefits for all previous weeks.If you get a letter or e-mail explicitly telling you to certify for PUA benefits,follow those instructions as your claim was likely processed

50. I checked my claim status, and the system says I have a $0 benefit amount. What does that mean? (Updated 5/21/2020)

If your claim status is “Filed” with a $0 benefit amount, the Department of Labor is still reviewing your claim. Check your email (and junk e-mail folder) for an e-mail from e-Adjudication that may ask for more information needed to determine your eligibility for benefits.

51. I tried to claim benefits, and the system says “claim not payable.” What does that mean? (Updated 5/19/2020)

Tens of thousands of New Jersey residents are receiving that message when they try to claim benefits. During the certification process you likely answered one of the 7 questions in a manner in which, under regular conditions, would require speaking with an agent to complete the process. During the pandemic, these restrictions have been modified to allow claimants to answer the questions per the COVID-19 circumstances. You will be notified by e-mail when your claim is payable. At that point, you will have to recertify for all the weeks that your claim was not payable.

52. I received an e-mail with a certifying guide for COVID-19. Am I supposed to fill it out?

No. This is a reference guide for you to use when you’re ready to certify. You do not need to fill it out and send it back.

53. I was approved for benefits, but I am only being given the option to claim benefits from last week. How can I get the retroactive benefits?

Generally, unemployment benefits only go retroactive as of the week that you filed. PUA will provide the benefits retroactive to the date that you became unemployed. When you certify for weekly benefits, look out for the option to certify for previous weeks. Since PUA is a new program and the State is still finalizing details, it may take some time to receive the option to certify for previous weeks. Be patient – there are tens of thousands of people in the same situation as you.

58. I am employed full time and have a side job or business. I am still receiving my regular paycheck from my job. Am I eligible for Unemployment benefits to make up for lost side/business income?

Since you are working, you should use the calculation above to determine how much you will be eligible for. If you are earning more than $855/week from your employer,you will definitely not be eligible to receive any Unemployment benefits, regardless of whether you are losing money from your business.

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Read our full list of updated FAQs by clicking here.

If you still have questions after reviewing this document, you can schedule a phone appointment with a caseworker by calling (732) 942-9292. You can also e-mail us at questions@lrrcenter.org. As always, our current program literature, recent announcements, and helpful links are posted on our website at info.lrrcenter.org

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