GDOL prepares to send out payments as unemployment program sunsets

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GDOL director David Dell’Isola said his department is getting hounded with calls about people unable to file their weekly claims but he says some of those are people who are already up on their 39 weeks. (PNC photo)

Unemployment benefits on Guam are on their way out for thousands of jobless residents and, in fact, have already sunset for those who’ve been filing claims since the island first shut down in March.

As the Guam Department of Labor readies itself to pay out nearly 2.5 months’ worth of initial cleared PUA claims this week, GDOL director David Dell’Isola says it’s already over for those who were affected from day one of the pandemic on Guam.

“This week, that just passed, Sunday, was the last qualified week for the 39 weeks that people will be able to get benefits who have filed since March 16. So, if you’ve been out of work, laid off, furloughed, reduced in hours and you started filing during the first PCOR 1 shutdown on March 16…last week was your last benefits period,” Dell’Isola said.

In fact, Dell’Isola says his department is getting hounded with calls about people unable to file their weekly claims but he says some of those are people who are already up on their 39 weeks.

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The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance passed in the CARES Act was only available to qualified residents for up to 39 weeks.

Dell’Isola says with no hope in sight yet, his only advice is to save some of the incoming dollars to make it through the payless weeks ahead.

“We just keep keeping an eye on Congress and hope they can reach an agreement and find some common ground to release something and we all pray that it will just be an extension of PUA so that way, I can turn it back on as quickly as possible. And, if they would allow me to roll over the existing funds, that would be even better…but, I can’t crystal ball it anymore because nobody knows,” Dell’Isola said.

GDOL announced that it’s planning to pay out all clean claims filed up to and including December 9. In order to meet this target, the department says it will batch this Thursday, instead of Tuesday, when they typically would.

“Because the LWA took an extra couple of days to process and we kind of learned that it works better after you batch a PUA batch…you can’t really batch it together,” Dell’Isola said.

He expects people will be getting their electronic deposits by Christmas for this massive PUA batch.

Dell’Isola says once the PUA is batched, then LWA can be put together based on that information.

He says that LWA payout will be this month, but not before Christmas.

What’s most critical right now, he says, is anyone who has not received their initial payout at all. He says those filers should email the department as soon as possible at: pua.hotline@dol.guam.gov and use the subject line “URGENT – Initial Claim Payment Request.”

In addition, GDOL says it will also put extra focus on some 7,000 problematic claims.

“A lot of them, a majority, are claimants who have already gotten paid but they’ve had problems with their weekly filings or the PPP got in their way and they’re kind of jammed up on trying to figure out how do you claim some income…but also get PUA, it’s things like that,” Dell’Isola said.

December 31 is the last date to claim an initial claim, although batching and payments will continue into the new year.

Dell’Isola says as long as your initial claim is in and processed, you can catch up with weekly submissions after that deadline. But what’s crucial is for your initial claim to be in before the December 31 deadline.

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