The CNMI Department of Labor is extending the last day to submit applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to Oct. 4.
However, only the deadline to submit applications has been extended from September to Oct. 4; benefits will still expire on Sept. 4, according to CNMI Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente. This means that eligible applicants can only file PUA and FPUC claims up to Sept. 4.
“We are accepting PUA applications up to Oct. 4, but PUA benefits will officially end on Sept. 4,” she said.
DOL also cleared up some confusion raised by applicants regarding the new job search requirement that determines PUA eligibility for those on reduced hours.
The new job search requirement, which was implemented for PUA 3, encourages PUA and FPUC recipients to go out and apply for jobs. They must then report information that they applied for jobs at a minimum of three per week. According to the portal, if no job searches are reported, applicants will be deemed ineligible for PUA benefits.
Benavente confirmed that individuals who are applying for PUA benefits on reduced hour status are exempted from this new job search requirement as long as they can submit verification from their employer that they are full-time employees whose hours were cut as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For those who have a full-time job but are now working reduced hours, you do not need to make three job contacts. The employer of that PUA applicant should submit a ‘Verification of Partial Unemployment Status for PUA’ form to the portal. This form will verify that you’re a full-time employee who is still attached to the employer, which exempts you from the job search requirement,” she said.
Benavente added that this form can be found on marianaslabor.net or the employer can provide their employees with a signed letter confirming the reduction in hours. “The form must be signed by the employer. A letter from the employer is also sufficient,” she said.
According to a press release from CNMI DOL, the program has paid out over $4 million in unemployment benefits as of last week.
This recent disbursement included payments for PUA 2 and PUA 3 to more than 500 PUA applicants in the CNMI.
In addition to resolving claimant issues, all unpaid claims, and working with claimants to provide necessary qualifying documents, the CNMI DOL has also been working with employers to accurately certify employment verifications, timesheets and check stubs for their employees.
“The CNMI Department of Labor continues to do its part in mitigating the economic effects of the pandemic by processing PUA payments as quickly as possible while simultaneously keeping the integrity of the programs it administers intact,” Benavente.