The Guam Department of Labor is advising all Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants who may qualify for the Lost Wages Act to get their documents in order and submitted by Friday, Nov. 20 in order to be included in the Nov. 24 batch.
GDOL continues to audit the potentially qualified LWA claims, but the batch scheduled for next week may be smaller than anticipated due to a lack of documentation.
Throughout this week some applicants may receive a call from PUA staff to fix their claims or supply additional documents and check stubs to qualify for the supplement.
The LWA provides qualifying claimants an extra $300 a week of federal assistance for six weeks, on top of what they receive from PUA. To qualify for LWA, claimants must receive at least $100 in PUA. Dates covered are weeks ending Aug. 1 to Sept. 5.
Guam went back into lockdown on Aug. 17, in the middle of the qualifying period. Non-essential businesses had to close causing additional furloughs and layoffs. While there is no separate application for LWA, the federal government requires claims to have sufficient documentation including separation notices, furlough letters, and check stubs to qualify for LWA payment.
To submit documents, claimants must upload them into their hireguam.com accounts. No walk-ins are available for this purpose at the moment.
“Do not wait to be called or audited. If you know you were back to work during July, August or September and then re-furloughed, you must submit additional documentation to show when you went back to work, what date, and what date you were released as a direct result of COVID-19 in order to insure that you will be qualified,” said Guam Department of Labor Director David Dell’Isola.
Those who have been flagged or who know their claims need to be updated, should do so as soon as possible. If GDOL does not receive the necessary documentation, claimants will have to wait for the next batch of LWA. The timing for the next batch is currently unknown.
“The PUA staff can’t tell just by the weekly claims what changes may have occurred in an individual’s application and employment history. If there isn’t sufficient information then payments cannot be made,” Dell’Isola said. “We have to be extra cautious with the LWA program, based on federal audit guidelines.”
Unlike PUA, the Government of Guam is liable for all unqualified or overpaid claims. Therefore, the Department of Labor must be judicious with these payments in order to keep Guam’s liability to a minimum.
“We recognize some claims may get paid out that don’t qualify because we want to get the money out as soon as possible. However we have a fiduciary responsibility to the Governor and to the people to ensure the money goes to the right people and we don’t hit the island with a huge liability,” Dell’Isola said.
The 311 PUA call center and appointment lines will continue to be closed this week as the staff works on clearing claims for LWA.
For more information on the unemployment assistance programs go to dol.guam.gov. For login issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For claim or weekly certification issues, email email@example.com.