GDOL in-person unemployment processing center opens

GDOL PUA processing center (PNC file photo)

It was the first day for Guam residents to apply in-person for unemployment benefits at the Guam Department of Labor’s processing center.

The operation went smoothly and lines were minimal, according to Hannah Cho, GDOL spokesperson.

The Guam Guard and Guam Police Department were on hand to help with logistics at the Guam Community College site.

This applicant says he wishes the online system was more accessible.

“I tried it online, I thought it would be user-friendly, but it’s not. It has questions that are tricky. So, it confuses a lot of people. It hasn’t been said from the very beginning what we’re supposed to do, it’s like when we make that mistake, then they’ll say, ‘oh yeah, you’re not supposed to do that, you’re supposed to answer it this way or that way.’ It’s just confusing,” the applicant said.

GDOL staff are on hand at the Guam Community College to support applicants from 9 am until 3 pm for appointments only. You have to call to book an appointment ahead of time.

“We have appointments for the entire week. However, there are still slots available. So people who would like to come and apply in person, can still call and make an appointment,” Cho said.

Cho says the appointments at the satellite locations are booking up faster. That’s the roving application center at various library branches on island. Staffers were in Dededo today and they’ll be in Agana tomorrow and Merizo on Wednesday.

They’re hoping to accommodate 10 people at those sites… from 9 am to 3 pm as well.

“We physically can’t do the application for them but we do have people there to guide them through it. This is what we’ve been building up to. This is why we’ve been asking people to wait so that there’s less chance of error and people will have clean applications that can go through faster and then, hopefully, get paid out faster as well,” Cho said.

As of Monday morning, GDOL had received nearly 17,400 initial claims by affected residents on Guam.

Officials say nearly 10,000 of those have unresolved issues that adjudicators now have to go through and figure out.

As for what you should bring with you if you have an in-person appointment:

“As a regular employee, of course, your ID, know your SSN and your employer separation letter, as well as most recent pay stubs. Especially if you had your hours reduced before you were furloughed, if you can bring more paystubs to show how your wages were reduced or your hours were reduced, that’ll make your application cleaner,” Cho said.

The call-in application process is still open for intake as well…

“The major concern is people sending in documents that are very blurry. So we are asking now that people email their documents in first so that we can take a look at them and then our customer service representatives will call them back to let them know that their information and documents are in order and that they can start the application process over the phone,” Cho said.

The department put out a release today encouraging everyone to report cases of suspected fraud with the unemployment claims on Island. GDOL confirmed that they are currently investigating potential fraudulent cases.

Cho says they’ve also hired more staff through their $1.5 million dislocated worker grant. Those new employees were trained over the weekend.