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Over $25M in PUA claims to be released this week

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The CNMI Department of Labor has reported that over $25 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims will be released to beneficiaries this week.

Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente said at a news briefing last Friday that the CNMI Department of Finance is set to release about $25.9 million worth of PUA funds for both direct deposit and paper checks.

Benavente added that payments will be from pay date Sept. 29 to Oct. 6. More payments should be forthcoming in the following weeks once DOL receives more funds from the U.S Department of Labor.

“The payouts for this week will be $25.9 million, both direct deposits and paper checks. We’re paying up to Sept. 29 and we’re also processing payments for Oct. 6 and, moving forward, we hope to process the next week when we receive the next allotment from U.S. DOL,” she said.

People receiving these funds will only receive PUA payments and not Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

This means those who have yet to receive their lump sum will not receive the FPUC payment of $600 until DOL receives additional funding, which is expected very soon.

“This is just for the PUA portion. Unfortunately, we had to hold back on paying FPUC claims because of the amount in the accounts. I want to make sure that we have more than enough for FPUC. I don’t want to pay just 1,000 applicants, I want to pay all the applicants as we move forward with this funding process with U.S. DOL,” she said.

As of Nov. 14, 2020, CNMI DOL has received 36,602 claims through the HireMarianas.com portal, but 17,931 of these claims are from the U.S. mainland and Hawaii and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the CNMI PUA program.

The official number of PUA claims in the CNMI is 18,671. Of that number, 11,785 (or 63% of all claims) have been adjudicated, meaning claimants have received an approval or denial notification in line with federal program requirements.

As of Nov. 18, 2020, CNMI DOL has paid over $108.4 million in PUA and FPUC benefits. Since June, more than $72 million in PUA funds and more than $86 million in FPUC funds have been obligated for current, ongoing, and future payments after adjudication.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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