Recipients of the newly created Supplementary Unemployment Benefits program will receive $1,520 a month with an additional monthly payment of $429 for their health insurance premium.
Speaking at the latest COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Minister of Labour, Jason Hayward reiterated that people lost their jobs as a result of this global pandemic, “due to no fault of their own”.
“Since the initial announcement that further financial assistance will be offered to those in need, either through the standard financial assistance programme or the supplementary unemployment benefit, we have distributed over 683 applications.
“As of the 26 August, 2020 55 percent of all applications returned to the Department were in various stages of processing due to incomplete submissions. The Department has communicated with applicants to request missing documentation and verify information submitted,” said Mr Hayward.
“In March, when the Government began implementing safety measures to protect the people of Bermuda, we also immediately implemented the 16-week unemployment benefit to support families during this unprecedented time.
“Now, as the unemployment benefit comes to an end, the Government is aware that many in our community are still in need of assistance. To address this, Government created the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit and allocated funds to financially support individuals who remain in need,” he said.
“To be clear, the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit is only for Bermudians, and Spouses of Bermudians who do not qualify for support through the Department of Financial Assistance, yet still require financial assistance from the Government.
“To confirm eligibility for the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit, applicants must undergo a means test administered by the Department of Financial Assistance. But it must be noted, that the eligibility requirements for the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit are different from Financial Assistance, and determinations will be made based on individual merit. It is also important to note that ineligibility for Financial Assistance does not mean a person will not be eligible for the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit.”
To apply for this benefit program, he added: “Individuals need only submit an application package to the Department of Financial Assistance.
“If an individual has already applied for Financial Assistance within the last six months, the process is simply to request that your initial file be reactivated. However, it remains your responsibility to submit the outstanding information for vetting.
“All Supplementary Unemployment Benefit recipients will receive monthly payments. Those recipients who already have health insurance will receive a flat monthly payment, while persons without Health Insurance will receive their health insurance premium in addition to their flat monthly payment. It is important to note that the insurance premiums will be paid directly to the Health Insurance Department.
“The Supplementary Unemployment Benefits program is scheduled to run until March 31, 2021, and, recipients will receive a monthly flat rate of $1520 with some individuals receiving an additional monthly payment of $429 for their health insurance premium.
The Minister also urged residents in need to apply for assistance.”
“If someone knows of persons in need, I ask that you to speak with the individual and ask them to apply for assistance.
“I am asking individuals to put aside your uneasiness and think about how this additional aid can help support your family through these challenging times.
“Please visit the Department of Financial Assistance to obtain an application package, fully complete the application package, and submit it together with the requested documents for consideration as soon as possible. If persons require assistance completing the forms, they must make that request at the reception desk.
“Applicants must also ensure that the name on their Government-issued picture ID matches their documents. You should also note that the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office has ceased the printing of Voter ID cards until September 9th, 2020.
“And remember, as per the requirements for persons on any kind of government financial assistance, beneficiaries must immediately notify Government when commencing any form of employment.
“Lastly, in speaking with members of the public, I understand there is some concern regarding the application itself, and confusion surrounding the application process.
“I can advise that the Department of Financial Assistance have streamlined the application process by removing some of the forms ordinarily required. A downloadable information sheet on the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit is currently located in the resources of the Department of Financial Assistance website at gov.bm.”
He outlined the process step by step.
- Individuals wishing to apply must first collect an application package from the Department of Financial Assistance, located on the first floor of Global House, 43 Church Street, Hamilton. Packages can only be collected from Mon – Thurs between 9am and 4pm.
- If you are unable to collect an application package, you may contact the Department of Financial Assistance Hotline at 297 7867 to make alternative arrangements. You will not initially speak with a representative as the system is geared to receive messages. Once your message is heard a representative will return your call.
- The application must be taken away and 100% completed to be considered for assistance.
- Once filled out, the application and any necessary documents must be submitted to the Department of Financial Assistance mailbox located on the first floor of Global House.
- All applications received will be vetted and applicants will be notified of their status accordingly. Where information is missing or outstanding, the department will give you a couple of courtesy calls as a reminder that they await your information.
In closing, he said: “If your application is successful, you will begin receiving the approved monthly award payments using a cashless system that deposits the payments directly into your bank account or provides direct payments to vendors on your behalf.”