37 Applications for Unemployment Benefits Approved

Governor Lolo Moliga has announced the disbursement of financial benefits to those who have suffered income loss because of business closures and loss of employment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, the Department of Human Resources has completed review of 820 applications filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program.

Only 37 applications have been found eligible under the requirements of the program with total disbursements of $376,849 or average pay of $9,000 per approved application.

The governor said, We are grateful for these federal programs which provide financial relief for these individuals.”

A total of 820 applications were filed with DHR, exclusive of those who didn’t officially file an application when told about program eligibility and the requirements.

Of those who filed, 314 or 38% were disqualified because of foreign nationality.

The remaining 514 or 64% were US nationals and US citizens applicants.

Of the foreign applicants 123 or 15% are authorized permanent residents of American Samoa.

75% are also legally authorized residents who work and pay taxes to the American Samoa Government.

Of the 514 applications reviewed, 200 are still pending due to incomplete documents given the inordinate number of require documents.

After the vetting of the 514 applications, only 37 or 7.2% have been approved with the average payout of $9,000 covering the period from February to March, and depending on the date of unemployment.

The $600 subsidy will lapse soon if Congress doesn’t extend the program.

Efforts are still being made to allow non US citizens and US nationals to receive unemployment assistance.

Governor Lolo stated, “On the onset of the PUA an FPUC when it was announced by Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata Radewagen, I reached out to her to check into the eligibility requirements the program because of the rigorous requirements attached to the US Department of Labor programs that we have experienced in the past. Consequently, only 37 or 4.5% out of 820 applications have been approved.”

He added, “I have reached out to Honorable Lisa Murkowski through our consultants in D.C. to please address this issue as it is unfair that legal residents of American Samoa who pay taxes are denied eligibility to these federal financial relief programs.”

Governor Lolo is hopeful that appropriate changes will be made allowing all of our people who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic to quality for the PUA and FPUC programs.

He congratulated all those whose applications have been approved. He also extended his thanks and gratitude to Director of Human Resources Eseneiaso Liu “for going after these federal financial assistance programs.”

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