Oct-28-10 Department Modernizing Delivery of Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Commissioner Harold J. Wirths said, “Today, when direct deposit and online banking are becoming the norm, the Department is moving to deliver funds to our customers faster, more securely and more user-friendly. We believe that we have obtained the most user-friendly debit card agreement in the nation for our customers. Many fees associated with other states’ programs have been eliminated in our debit card program. This advance in the delivery of our service not only makes benefits available sooner, it also will enable the Department to reduce our printing and mailing costs by an estimated $7 to $8 million annually.”
Workers filing initial UI claims starting October 31, 2010, will have the option of using a debit card to access their UI compensation or having their benefits electronically deposited directly into their bank account. Currently, 55 percent of all claimants receive their UI compensation by direct deposit. By February 2011, all unemployment insurance claimants will receive their benefits either by direct deposit or debit card. Currently, approximately 460,000 unemployed workers in New Jersey are collecting either state or federally funded unemployment insurance benefits.
Paperless delivery of benefits directly to bank accounts or debit cards provides claimants with faster and more secure access to the funds and greater portability. The Department’s implementation of debit cards is an expansion of the current contract with Bank of America to deliver benefits. Under the agreement, there are:
• No fees for purchases from merchants that accept Visa debit cards.
• No fees for ATM withdrawals at domestic Bank of America ATMs.
• Two no fee ATM withdrawals per month at non-Bank of America ATMs.
• Unlimited, no fee teller cash access at any bank or credit union that accepts Visa.
• Unlimited, no fee balance inquiries at ATMs and online customer service at www.bankofamerica.com/cashpay.
• Unlimited automated and live customer service inquiries
The new debit cards will allow claimants to use their card to pay bills with businesses that accept Visa for payments, and will not allow overdrafts of the funds, avoiding overdraft charges. By November, New Jersey will be one of 30 states delivering UI compensation through debit cards.
More information on UI compensation delivered through debit cards and direct deposit can be found on the Department homepage at www.nj.gov/labor.