COVID-19: Unemployment in Puerto Rico

A local worker drops her information at the P.R. Department of Labor's mailbox to request unemployment benefits. >Josian E. Bruno Gómez

Puerto Rico Labor Secretary Briseida Torres announced on Thursday that, after the integration of the digital registry of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the SABEN system, her agency disbursed more than $165 million for 55,000 people who requested this new federal unemployment benefit.

“As we had anticipated, once the technological problems that prevented the integration of both platforms were addressed, payments began to come out quickly and recurrently for all those eligible people. Just three days ago, we were processing requests manually, as we did not have the technological tool. Today we can announce that payments were issued for over 47,000 people, which shows the importance of the appropriate programming element for the optimal operation of our services," Torres said via press release.

She also stressed that they expect that number to continue increasing in the coming days, while the integration of both systems continues.

Yesterday, the payment of benefits to 55,000 PUA applicants could be automated and benefits for $165 million were issued. 47,510 of those claims were paid under the PUA program and the rest were processed under the regular Unemployment Insurance program.

Applicants who receive their payments in the next few days will be receiving the minimum compensation of $66 weekly, plus the federal supplemental aid of $600, retroactively from April 4. Torres Reyes added that the weekly supplementary aid extends for four months, until July 25, while the unemployment situation persists.

The retroactive payment of the PUA program benefits will be from the day the claimant became unemployed due to COVID-19 related situations, until the date of the PUA program claim. Claims for subsequent weeks must be made by people once they receive by mail the official determination and their three-digit personal identification number (PIN).

Retroactive payments of $600 weekly supplemental aid begin April 4.

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