Even if new stimulus aid is approved, it may take months before checks are available

(PNC file photo)

With the unemployment program about to end on Guam, the Department of Labor says even if there is a new stimulus package passed by Congress, recipients on island should expect to go a while without any aid money.

GDOL director David Dell’Isola said: “So my advice to the public: save your money that you’re getting now because it may be one or two months before relief comes that will be retroactive.”

Dell’Isola said that while they’re awaiting answers from USDOL and their legal team, it’s simply not realistic to expect a program to be agreed on, passed, and implemented by December 31.

He says while he doesn’t have a crystal ball, he predicts there will be a stoppage of some sort in federal aid payments.

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The current unemployment program technically expires with the CARES Act funding on December 30th although the last full work week you’ll be able to claim is up to December 26th.

Dell’Isola says he had a call this morning with USDOL and there are several questions that need to be answered, including one major one: can people still file their unemployment claims after December 26th?

“My recommendation would be, until I hear definitively from USDOL…my advice to you is to be safe and file before the 26th (of December). To be conservative, on December 26th, when you go on hireguam.com, that button that says ‘file a weekly claim’ or ‘file a PUA claim’ will be turned off,” Dell’Isola said.

He is recommending that everyone work quickly to put in their initial claims and weekly certifications.

GDOL had originally been approved for some $980 million in their budget for the PUA and FPUC and has paid out nearly $500 million so far.

As for the unspent $400 million, Dell’Isola said: “That money is for the CARES Act, it’s for PUA. If Congress goes in and passes something different, whether it’s a HEREOS Act or whatever the new program is. It’s separate funding, separate budget, separate monies.”

A whole new program will mean new agreements, budgets and time spent setting up the infrastructure to take in applications again.

Dell’Isola says while it looks promising for some form of additional unemployment payments, with Congress, it’s always hard to tell.

For now, all of Dell’Isola’s meetings are focused on sunsetting the current PUA program.

He says they’re batching every Tuesday from now through the end of the month to try to plow through October and November claims, as well as LWA payments, as the Governor had requested of them this past week.

“We will continue batching until we’re caught up to the expiration of the program. It’ll expire for additional claims to be filed but we’re still batching those claims before the expiration date. Even after that, we still have people who have issues with their claims, we still have several thousand of those, that have problem claims that we’re trying to fix. We have appeals, we have overpayments,” Dell’Isola said.

He says truly finishing out the program may well take up to the first quarter of 2021.