CNMI Department of Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente on Thursday reported that the U.S. Department of Labor approved and awarded the Commonwealth $262 million for the second round of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation programs.
The funds for the second round have yet to be deposited into the CNMI’s bank account, but it usually takes a few days after the award notification for the funds to be received, she said.
The PUA program provides temporary benefits to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of Covid-19. The PUA program, through the Continued Assistance Act, or CAA, provides eligible applicants in the CNMI with 11 weeks of unemployment benefits starting on December 27, 2020 to March 13, 2021.
Under the CAA, for weeks of unemployment beginning after December 26, 2020 and ending on or before March 14, 2021, an individual collecting PUA may collect a $300 FPUC payment per week.
Individuals may apply for PUA if they have had at least one week of full or partial unemployment on or after December 27, 2020 through March 13, 2021 as a result of Covid-19.
Individuals may file applications for PUA online or in-person starting February 16, 2021 and ending March 13, 2021.
Paper applications will be accepted until March 15.
The CNMI DOL office will be closed for in-person contact after March 15 as adjudicators will be adjudicating applications.
Although the office will be closed, applicants can still contact the CNMI DOL via call or email.
“It’s a very tight timeframe…for everyone to get their documents together so that their applications can be processed fairly quickly,” said Benavente.
She noted that applications that have little to no errors will be processed quickly, as opposed to applications with various errors.
To submit a PUA application online, visit www.hiremarianas.com
PUA applications and other forms may also be obtained and submitted at either of the following locations:
• (Saipan) Department of Labor - Division of Employment Services, Building # 1334, Ascension Dr. Capital Hill, Saipan MP 96950
• (Rota) Northern Marianas College, Room #A2, Rota, MP 96951
• (Tinian) Department of Labor, Edu's Plaza, 1st Floor, San Jose Village, Tinian, MP 96952
To combat the effects of Covid-19, the Saipan PUA Program will be strictly implementing the following paper application submission schedule from February 16, 2021 to March 15, 2021, Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.:
Monday: Applicants with last names beginning with the letter A-C
Tuesday: Applicants with last names beginning with the letter D-H
Wednesday: Applicants with last names beginning with the letter I-M
Thursday: Applicants with last names beginning with the letter N-R
Friday: Applicants with last names beginning with the letter S-Z
In consideration of the application end date falling on a Saturday, March, 13, 2021, the CNMI DOL will accept paper application submissions on the Monday, March 15, 2021 following the deadline.
Individuals filing a new PUA application on or after Jan. 31, 2021 — regardless of whether the claim is backdated — are required to provide documentation within 21 days of the application or the date the individual is directed to submit the documentation by CNMI DOL, whichever is later.
Individuals who applied for PUA before Jan. 31, 2021 and received a payment of PUA on or after Dec. 27, 2020 — regardless of which week ending date is being paid — are required to provide documentation substantiating employment or self-employment, or the planned commencement of employment or self-employment, within 90 days of the application or when directed to submit documentation by CNMI DOL, whichever is later.
To receive PUA, individuals must submit in-person or upload online the following:
(1) A government issued picture identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, alien registration card
(2) Social Security Card number
(3) If applicable, copies of the most recent federal income tax forms, check stubs, and other proof of earnings, and
(4) If applicable, evidence of self-employment earnings, business license, including financial documents such as 2017 Federal/CNMI income tax forms, profit and loss statement, and proof of business loss due to the disaster.
Individuals who have questions about the PUA/FPUC programs are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call any of the following numbers between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, except on holidays.
Saipan: 322-8870/71/72/73/74/76/77/78/79/80 or 989-9190/92/93/94
Tinian: 989-9000 or 433-0889
Individuals who are determined eligible for PUA must file weekly claim certifications to demonstrate their continued eligibility either in person or online.
Continued eligibility is determined on a week-by-week basis. Applicants are encouraged to consult the “PUA/FPUC Benefits Rights Information Handbook” found on the CNMI Department of Labor’s website at: http://www.marianaslabor.net under “Forms and Publications” for details.
Individuals who willfully conceal material facts or knowingly make false statement(s) to obtain PUA to which they are not entitled will be required to repay all benefits fraudulently collected and may be subject to prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1001.
Individuals are encouraged to call 989-9095 to report any perceived instances of wrongdoing or fraud pertaining to the PUA/FPUC programs.