STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE VINCENT O. WHEATLEY
MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES, LABOUR & IMMIGRATION
THIRTEENTH SITTING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Tuesday, 21 JULY, 2020
Update on Social Security Unemployment/Underemployment Benefit Payments
Mister Speaker, I am pleased to provide the following update relative to the unemployment / underemployment benefits.
Total number of claims received to date: 7,650
Number of claims paid to date: 1,738
Total amount paid out to date: $2,421,238.32
Mister Speaker, we have reached the peak of the processing of COVID-19 unemployment /underemployment claim applications. It is estimated that the processing of the unemployment claims will be completed within two weeks, and drastically reduce the outstanding underemployment claims.
Mister Speaker, the underemployed claims are taking more time to process because of the intricacies involved, such as researching information to verify the claim, and calculating the level of unemployment as persons get paid varying amounts from one month to the next in some cases. One big positive, Mister Speaker, is that, as a result of this process numerous employers have been paying in contributions and underemployment benefits are being reviewed and processed on accurate figures.
Mister Speaker, with respect to persons whose contributions are not up to date; Social Security has been calling those persons. The Board has been requesting that those persons submit their pay slips, any other proof of employment, or encourage their employer to pay their outstanding contributions. We are pleased to report that the methods have been working well and claims are being adjusted and paid. It is important to note that a claim cannot be denied due to non-payment of contribution.
Mister Speaker it is important to also note that the Social Security Board has been simultaneously processing thousands of regular claims such as sickness, maternity, old age etc. Prior to COVID-19, claims were processed in less than a week. Due to the shutdown and the implementing of the Unemployment benefit, claims are behind by approximately one month as half of the Benefit Clerks are now working on Unemployment claims full time. Nonetheless, staff continues to work until 8:00p.m nightly and on Saturdays to expedite the processing of the Unemployment Benefit.
I know Mister Speaker that persons are concerned about the timely processing of benefits, and rightfully so; however, we have to appreciate the meticulous work the Social Security Board undertakes to review, verify and validate each claim. However, Mister Speaker, the Board continues to streamline the processing of benefits to ensure its timely payments as we work to assist persons during this difficult time.
Thank you Mister Speaker.