Eligible applicants who submitted completed applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance can expect to receive payments within the next seven to 10 days.
The CNMI Department of Labor is now moving toward the third and fourth phases of the program, according to Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente, which is claims adjudication and disbursement of payments.
“Our next phase will be claims adjudication. Data is being inputted already so, as soon as we pull the trigger for the complete applications, payments will be made between seven to eight days, so let me stress, complete applications will be processed fairly quickly. [If it is] incomplete, we [will] have to call our clients first to bring this document or letter or whatever is incomplete,” she said in a press conference.
Benavente said that DOL is working tirelessly to expedite the review process of the applications that have already been submitted to get payments out as soon as possible. As of Monday, less than 1,000 applications were considered “complete.”
“We are sifting through these applications as quickly as possible and we’re working throughout the week and we are going to work through Saturday to further expedite these applications. It’s been a challenging time,” she said.
Benavente added that she understands that many in the CNMI community are highly stressed in regards to their PUA benefits, but she hopes that, once the first batch of payments are sent out, stress levels will go down.
“It’s only been two weeks since the launch but two weeks is a long time for people who are suffering, who are waiting for federal benefits, so I understand the stress levels. We are hopeful that, once the checks are processed, this will lessen family stress levels,” she said.
Benavente said DOL has received over 5,000 PUA applications in the last two weeks, both online and physical applications. Around 400 are from Tinian and Rota, while 4,600 are from Saipan.
During the Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s virtual general monthly meeting, DOL employment services director Eugene Tebuteb explained the phases of the PUA program and said Phase 3 will commence this Friday.
“Phase 1 involves online registrations of employers seeking to help their employees by listing reasons for separation. Phase 2 was making the claims application process available online and through walk-ins or through drive-through. Phase 3 of the program will commence this Friday, adjudication, and Phase 4 will ensue immediately after we start making those adjudication,” he said.