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Nearly 700 file Covid-19 related unemployment claims – NIS

Nearly 700 file Covid-19 related unemployment claims – NIS
Stewart K Haynes Executive Director, National Insurance Services


Almost 700 Covid-19 related unemployment claims have so far been received by the National Insurance Services (NIS).

And last Friday, April 17, the social security agency made its first 36 unemployment benefit payments, with the second round of payments scheduled for Thursday, April 30.

On Wednesday, an official of the NIS told SEARCHLIGHT that the organization was sorting through 630 unemployment benefit claims.

“We are in the process of logging them to ascertain eligibility…we would like to remind persons to look at the conditions that enable them to file a successful claim,” said the official said.

Lawmakers on Tuesday, April 7 approved amendments to Section 26 of the National Insurance Act to include a provision for an unemployment benefit.

Executive Director of the NIS Stewart Haynes said last week that the NIS is doing all it can to cushion the various fallouts from COVID-19.

The NIS’s unemployment benefit is not part of the agency’s current benefit packages, but was implemented as a humanitarian response, he said.

It is being serviced from a $2 million fund, and is expected to last until July 17, 2020.

It is expected that the unemployment benefit will address the concerns of about 2000 persons.

To be eligible for the benefit, the insured person must not have attained pensionable age and must have been laid off no earlier than March 1, 2020 and have had a stoppage of earnings by virtue of economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The unemployment benefit will be awarded if an insured person has paid at least 26 contributions and has paid or been credited with not fewer than eight weekly contributions in the 13 contribution weeks immediately preceding the contribution week in which the person was laid off.

The NIS is being careful not to pay out the benefit to an individual who has never made contributions to the institution.

Beneficiaries will receive $75 a week or $300 a month as the NIS seeks to replace at least a proportion of income, thereby protecting persons from falling into poverty.

Haynes said last week that the NIS is promoting solidarity, as the benefit is not prefunded, meaning that the NIS has not charged customers for this benefit, so the cost would be shared among all contributors.