2,000 applicants so far for PUA 2.0

Posted on Mar 08 2021

As of last Thursday, March 4, the CNMI Department of Labor has already received 2,000 applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance/Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, according to DOL Employment Services director Eugene Tebuteb.

The deadline to submit PUA/FPUC applications will be on March 13, and DOL offices will be closed on March 15, said Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente.

Benavente said that if applicants need assistance with their PUA applications, they will have to call in or email. This will be a more efficient way to meet with applicants so that PUA adjudicators can adjudicate as quickly as possible.

Speaking in a livestream video over radio station KKMP’s Facebook page, Tebuteb said that based on their reports, there are roughly 3,000 government employees who are affected by the pandemic. These include having reduced hours, on furloughed, or laid off.

File photo shows Pandemic Unemployment Assistance/Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation coordinator Annamae Adaza assisting an applicant at the CNMI Department of Labor office window on Capital Hill. (MARK RABAGO)

“We also know that there’s a reduction-in-force that would affect 180 government employees. We’re looking at our numbers now comparing it to Round 1 of PUA and it is way less,” said Tebuteb. With the 2,000 applications, Tebuteb said that it is a large percentage less than the first round of PUA.

It was learned that those who do qualify for the second round of PUA/FPUC must apply or reapply online or on paper with DOL. Applications will not be approved until DOL receives all documents that will prove an individual’s eligibility.

Benavente said the CNMI DOL has been approved for $262 million in PUA/FPUC aid but has not received the funding yet but they do expect it within this week.

This comes as the U.S. Senate just passed the $1.9-trillion stimulus package that will extend the PUA/FPUC benefits through September 2021. The stimulus package goes back to the House of Representatives and if they agree with the Senate amendments, it goes to President Joe R. Biden’s desk for enactment.

In related news, the offices of Rep. Richard T. Lizama (D-Saipan) and Rep. Leila Staffler (D-Saipan) held a workshop last March 6 at the Kagman Community Center in Kagman from 9am to 2pm for community members who needed help filling out their PUA and/or Northern Marianas Housing Corp. applications.

Community members were instructed to bring all documents to help with their applications.

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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