What’s In Store for People Who Get Work First New Jersey
The county and municipal welfare offices and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) are now working jointly to provide Work First New Jersey (welfare) customers with services. This change is supposed to make it easier for you to get a job that is right for you. Although each county has its own plan, some things are the same throughout the state.
The Welfare Office Must:
- Still accept applications for cash assistance as well as food stamps and Medicaid.
- Still help with basic needs, including money, food, housing, and other services. If you show up at the One-Stop and need cash assistance or other services, a case manager should arrange for an appointment at the welfare office.
- Still provide child care and transportation for all work activities, including your appointment at the One-Stop. If you need these services, ask for them.
- Still determine if you must participate in the program or if you should be deferred.
- Provide a case manager whose job it is to get services that you may need to help yourself or your family.
The welfare case manager and the One-Stop case manager are supposed to coordinate their efforts to provide you with better services overall.
The One-Stop Career Center Must:
- Provide you with a case manager who will determine what your job skills are, what you are interested in, and what you may need in order to get a good job.
- Provide training in a variety of skills that will give you the tools to get the job that you want.
- Help you get more education, including college, if that is what you want.
- Provide ongoing support and services after you have a job to help you keep the job or help you get a better job.
What You Should Know About Your Participation
- If you are not deferred, as before, you will be required to participate in a “work activity.” In most cases, the first activity will be an appointment at the One-Stop.
- Your appointment at the One-Stop will be mandatory, and you may be sanctioned if you do not keep it.
- Workers at the One-Stops and at the welfare offices are supposed to help you fix your problems and find answers to your questions. Ask to speak with a supervisor if you are not getting clear answers.
How to Solve a Problem
- Start by talking to a supervisor. If you can’t work out the problem with the caseworker at either the welfare office or the One-Stop, ask to speak with either supervisor. The two agencies are supposed to work together to resolve problems.
- Ask for a case conference, which is a meeting where at least both caseworkers get together to try to resolve a problem. You can also have anyone that you want to be there, including a friend, relative, SAI coordinator, lawyer, or other service provider who knows you and your situation.
- Call Legal Services. You can contact your local Legal Services office or call LSNJ-LAW™, Legal Services of New Jersey’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline, at 1-888-LSNJ LAW (1-888-576-5529).
If the welfare office or One-Stop does (or doesn’t) do something with your case that you think is wrong, you can challenge their decision.
Problems with the Welfare Office or One-Stop can be Resolved through a Fair Hearing
How do I get a fair hearing?
- Put it in writing and give it to the welfare office, or
- Call the welfare office, or
- Call the State Fair Hearings Hotline at 1-800-792-9773.
(If any of these methods seems too slow, try a different one.)
When do I have to ask for a fair hearing?
- 15 days from the date of the welfare office’s written notice to you, if you want to keep your benefits while you wait for a hearing. Make sure that you say that you want your benefits to continue when you ask for the hearing.
- 90 days for Work First (cash) benefits. You also have 90 days to ask for a state fair hearing if you have a “local hearing” first and if you disagree with the local hearing decision.
- 15 days for Emergency Assistance (EA—cash assistance for housing or utilities).
- 90 day s for food stamps and/or TANF benefits. (But you must ask for the hearing within 15 days of the agency decision if you want your benefits to continue coming unchanged.)
At a hearing, an administrative law judge will listen to both sides and will make an initial decision. The Division of Family Development will review the judge’s findings and send you a final decision within 45 days.
If you don’t like the decision from the fair hearing, you can appeal it. You have 45 days from the final decision to appeal. You can contact your local Legal Services office for more information about appeals. The name, address, and telephone number for the Legal Services office will be on the notice that you get from the welfare office. Or call LSNJ’s hotline at 1-888-LSNJ LAW (1-888-576-5529) to get additional information about your rights.
Sample Request for a Fair Hearing
REQUEST FOR A FAIR HEARING
CASE NO. ___________________
( ) I WANT A FAIR HEARING BECAUSE: _______________
( ) I WISH TO CONTINUE RECEIVING BENEFITS UNTIL A HEARING IS HELD (IF APPLICABLE)
( ) I DO NOT WISH TO CONTINUE RECEIVING BENEFITS UNTIL A HEARING IS HELD.