Of 8,000 plus who applied to avail of the Lost Wages Assistance Program, the CNMI Department of Labor will be sending a list of 6,909 names who have been found eligible to the Department of Finance in the next few days.
In an interview, Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente said that DOL vetted 8,473 applicants and they have identified 6,909 applicants who are eligible for LWA. This list will be turned to Finance in the next few days.
Under the LWA program, the federal government will provide $300 per person per month to eligible claimants from the week of unemployment ending Aug. 1, 2020.
According to Benavente, eligible applicants will get $900 for the whole three weeks, while eligible applicants for two weeks will get $600 and for one week, $300. Benavente said the payments will be given as a lump sum check.
Benavente said DOL will be processing the LWA within the next couple of weeks. “Essentially, there’ll be about $6 million in benefits to be issued for these applicants who are eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance Program,” said Benavente.
For the remaining 1,564 who weren’t found eligible, that was because of their employment status or for being a foreign worker at that time. Several have been denied due to outright fraudulent claims. Benavente said some claims are not within the CNMI and no documents or identification were attached to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance portal.
The LWA Program grants come from Federal Emergency Management Agency and its intended beneficiaries are workers who have had reduced hours due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, the CNMI government started distributing the $7.7 million that was approved for the CNMI’s LWA program after President Joseph Biden approved the CNMI’s request to waive the 25% matching fund requirement last March 23.
The CNMI was approved for $7.7 million for LWA last Sept. 16, 2020.