Minister with responsibility for Social Security Vincent Wheatley said more than 6,000 residents have applied for unemployment/underemployment benefits through the Social Security Board (SSB).
Speaking in the House of Assembly last Friday, Wheatley said more than $176,000 has been disbursed so far.
The SSB began distributing application forms at the start of June and persons were encouraged to submit their forms along with any supporting evidence.
“Of the approximate 6,000 COVID-19 underemployment/unemployment benefit applications received, 2,125 were asserted [while] 1,200 were scanned, and indexed. Payments for 94 persons were deposited to the individual accounts with a total payout of $176,107.74,” Wheatley reported.
He further said some 10,000 application forms have been distributed to date.
Moving full steam ahead
The minister said the processing of benefits to persons in need is moving swiftly despite a few glitches in the beginning.
“While the payments appear to be protracted, persons must appreciate that COVID-19 underemployment/unemployment benefit is not one of the benefits paid by the SSB. A computer programme had to be developed and tested to ensure correctness in processing the claims,” Wheatley explained.
He continued: “Among the many challenges faced are the incomplete forms, missing bank account numbers and employee information topping the list. The process also slowed when there are missing salaries for the required periods and the need to contact the employer.”
However, more employers have been added to the processing team and they are said to be working tirelessly to process the claims.
The government had allocated $10 million - through a grant from the SSB - for persons who have either lost their jobs, are working fewer hours or for less pay because of the COVID-19 crisis.