The Guam Department of Labor has batched another $6.7 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. This covers cleared claims through Aug. 31.
Of the $6.7 million, $5.5 million is in direct deposits, $722,000 is in paper checks and $535,000 is in federal withholding taxes.
With this batch the department has paid about $415 million in unemployment benefits so far. The department said this was a special batch it ran to try and help some claimants whose payments bounced back due to user error.
“As we reconciled and tried to fix these claims we hoped to include them in the previous batch, but they didn’t make it in. Since we were already batching, we decided to go ahead and include a few more days worth of clean claims,” said Labor Director David Dell’Isola.
Fraudulent activity is still slowing down the batching of payments, but the department is further challenged by loss of personnel due to contact tracing, the department said.
“We know how important this financial lifeline is for our claimants. Despite some challenges we continue to adjudicate claims electronically and manually to ensure clean claims go through, and fraudulent claims are removed. The goal is to get unemployment money into the hands of our people as quickly as possible but also as cleanly as possible,” Dell’Isola said. “Payments should be out as early as Friday or early next week at the latest.”
The PUA program, a component of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act, provides temporary benefits to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of Covid-19. Direct result means loss of employment or self-employment because of a reason directly related to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The PUA program, in general, provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits. Guam’s PUA Weekly Benefit Amount is $345 a week. Employees who have been laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19 qualify for the full amount. Employees still working but making less than $345 a week qualify for PUA minus their wages. Those making $345 or more do not qualify for PUA.