Thousands of New Jersey residents finally receive unemployment benefits

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- The stories will break your heart. A young mom selling her car to buy diapers for her toddler. Another woman sending her son away, like during the Great Depression, because she can no longer afford him.

They have all been waiting since last year for thousands in unemployment money owed by the state of New Jersey.

But finally, there's some good news from 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda who has been battling for the benefits for weeks.

The majority of people 7 On Your Side featured from The New Jersey Unemployment Group Facebook page got their benefits of more than $30,000 and counting after delays of more than two months.

"Thank you for your help because right after I did the segment, literally the next day the money was there," said Stephanie Kinley, a New Jersey resident.

Because of COVID cutbacks, Kinley was laid off from her job at a mental health clinic. With no unemployment coming in since Christmas, she had to send her 11-year-old away to live with his dad. Now, she's working on bringing Malachi home.

"I'm a mess, I'm a mess 49 years old, I don't have anything," said Anette Guagliardo, a New Jersey resident.

Guagliardo is a catering bartender. She has not worked any gigs since March. She was down to her last dollar. 7 On Your Side shared her unemployment story and that of the Krout family who was about to sell their car to afford diapers with Governor Murphy and the Labor Department commissioner.

After that press conference, it was announced 75,000 people waiting for back benefits would start getting paid.

"I paid my car payments, the cable bill, the electric bill," Guagliardo said.

She got her $3,000, yet others are still waiting, like one chef laid off after 40 years.

"Sorry, we're being punished, just feels like we're being punished," said Cleveland, a chef. "I'm being stepped on. It's like being kicked in the teeth."

But the money came for the Krout family so they didn't have to sell their car, the Lopezes who had a baby during the pandemic can pay their mortgage, Anthony Larose, and Kristen Baum, the administrator of the Facebook page helping so many people, all got or are getting their benefits by next week.

"You have no idea how much I appreciate you," Guagliardo said. "Especially you Nina, thank you so much for caring and looking out for me and everybody else.

The Department of Labor said the "vast majority" of claimants have or will soon begin to receive extended benefits.

Some Big Takeaways:

If you haven't received the email to certify...

- Check your spam folder for the email.

-Call DOL's automated line to check if your account has a balance.

- If there is a balance: certify on your normal day or the makeup days Friday and Saturday

- If you don't have a balance there may be a larger problem. You'll have to keep trying to get a representative on the phone which we know is not easy.

ALSO READ | Could transferring credit card debt to another card save you money?

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7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has more on credit card interest rates and balance transfers.

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