Says Hundreds of People in District Are Still Being Denied Benefits They Deserve
Exasperated by almost-constant pleas from constituents who are unable to get help with unemployment benefits from the Department of Labor, Senator Anthony M. Bucco last week wrote to Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo seeking a solution.
Too many New Jersey residents still can’t get the help they need from unemployment, but Senator Bucco’s letter seeking assistance from the labor commissioner went unanswered. (SenateNJ.com)
In his letter dated August 2, Bucco requested “a meeting at my legislative office with you and any other member of your staff to review the current process and develop a procedure so that we can quickly and effectively resolve these outstanding unemployment issues that my constituents continue to endure.”
More than a week later, Bucco has not received a response from the Department of Labor.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” said Bucco (R-25). “I was hopeful we could sit down and find a solution to break through the brick walls blocking hard-working residents from the help they need, the help they deserve.
“Unfortunately, the department has treated me the same way they have been treating New Jersey residents for almost 18 months. They ignored us,” Bucco continued.
“To get the economy back on track, we need to do everything we can to get people back to work, and at the same time we must ensure that all residents receive the unemployment assistance they deserve,” added Bucco.
The Senator said New Jersey families, many who have never had to claim unemployment before, deserve better from the Department.
“It is virtually impossible for citizens who have lost their jobs and aren’t getting approved for benefits to speak with a human being to help resolve their claim. Instead, they become trapped in a torturous email maze with no escape. They are overwhelmed with desperation because they can’t pay the rent or feed their families,” Bucco continued. “The Administration has to do better than this.”
In the letter, Bucco said his district office staff “has gone above and beyond to try to close these cases, but despite their best efforts, issues remain.”
Some of the unresolved cases are more than 440 days old, something Bucco called “unacceptable.”
The full text of the letter is below:
I am writing to you today on behalf of the more than 200,000 residents of the 25th Legislative District, and the millions of New Jerseyans who have faced or been adversely affected by chronic problems with their unemployment claims. Many of these problems have stemmed from the lack of an effective process in handling these matters during the pandemic.
New Jerseyans across the state, forced to collect unemployment as their places of businesses were shut down due to the pandemic, were left without the money to which they were entitled, and, more importantly, without answers they deserved. Across the state, legislative officers were deputized by your department to help streamline the process and assist our constituents in resolving the issues they faced. This process has not been effective, leaving our staffs and constituents frustrated.
In my district office alone, I have an inordinately large number of constituent issues and cases still pending, waiting, sometimes for months, without answers from your department. My staff has gone above and beyond to try to close these cases, but despite their best efforts, issues remain. I have attached a copy of a recent email and exhibit that was sent to your staff which provides an example of the types of matters that remain unresolved, some as old as 440 days. This is unacceptable.
I am respectfully requesting a meeting at my legislative office with you and any other member of your staff to review the current process and develop a procedure so that we can quickly and effectively resolve these outstanding unemployment issues that my constituents continue to endure.
In March of 2020, it was understandable that your department had issues with unemployment benefits. Even in April and May of last year, it was still understandable, yet 18 months later, my understanding and my patience is running out, and the same goes for the hundreds of people in my district who are still being denied the basic benefit that they deserve. I hope that you will accept my invitation and I look forward to seeing you in my Denville office in the coming weeks.
Anthony M. Bucco
Senator, 25th Legislative District
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