Saipan-- The CNMI Department of Labor has distributed more that $200 million in Pandeminc Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits to eligible applicants.
Labor officials estimate that by the end of the program, approximately $350 million in benefits will be disbursed.
Since June 16, 2020, the Department has received a total of 39,002 claims for the PUA and FPUC programs. Of the total amount received, 21,000 claims fall under the jurisdiction of the CNMI. After a thorough examination of its total claims population, the Department identified the remaining 18,002 as belonging to other States/Territories.
According to program reports, an estimated 10,252 claims were approved for payouts and 26,241 claims (including non-jurisdiction claims) were denied, leaving roughly 2,509 claims pending adjudication.
All PUA claims received during the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) pandemic assistance period-- from Feb. 2, 2020 to Dec. 27, 2020) have been adjudicated and paid out with the exception of claims that are in the reconsideration or appeals process.
According to the department, 8,226 claims (2,047 of which were brand new claims and 5,603 of which were continued weekly claims) were received during the Continued Assistance Act pandemic assistance period (Dec. 28, 2020 to March 13, 2021). Approximately 3,456 or 42 percent of those claims have been inspected.
The PUA program is currently accepting initial and weekly paper and online claims submissions for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) pandemic assistance period, which runs from March 14 through September 04, 2021.
The Lost Wage Assistance program is a federal program that is administered by the Department through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Supplemental wages in the amount of $300 is provided to PUA recipients of at least $100 beginning in Aug. 1 to 15, 2020. The CNMI was awarded three weeks of LWA assistance from FEMA.
To date, the Department has disbursed $4.9 million in LWA benefits to 6,298 eligible recipients. The final batch of LWA payments will be released by July 2021.
“Because the Department is obligated to maintain program integrity, it must ensure that it makes every effort to negate or mitigate disbursements of inaccurate or fraudulent payments," Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente said.
“While maintaining program integrity is certainly important, the Department also understands its role in expediting the payment process because it recognizes the economic impact of the pandemic on families.