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Hawaii distributes first pandemic unemployment assistance checks

  • COURTESY PHOTO
                                Anyone in Hawaii who plans to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance should first read the tutorial at <a href="http://tax.hawaii.gov/PUA" target="_blank">tax.hawaii.gov/PUA</a>, which explains how to fill out the application step by step.

    COURTESY PHOTO

    Anyone in Hawaii who plans to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance should first read the tutorial at tax.hawaii.gov/PUA, which explains how to fill out the application step by step.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported today that it has now paid out nearly $109.9 million in federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

The federal funds, which were approved as part of the CARES Act, offer support for the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers and freelancers. The PUA program also might cover some people who are seeking part-time work, lack sufficient work history or otherwise don’t qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits.

DLIR spokesman Bill Kunstman said today that the department first began distributing funds to PUA claimants on May 14.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), the federal 13-week extension to claims, also was soft launched on Monday with 479 claimants certified. Kunstman said written notice is scheduled to go out tonight to about 15,000 potential beneficiaries, who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance.

There are still complaints about the speed that unemployment claims are getting processed and paid. However, DLIR is making strides.

Between March 1 and April, it had paid only claims for 65,252 filings, less than a third of its unique unemployment insurance filings. The department today reported that has processed 169,874 claims or more than 71%.

The department said that it has paid 126,798 claims, or nearly 75% of the claims that it has processed. Another 68,177 claims are still in process and 43,076 have been denied.

Some 20 workers at the Hawaii Convention Center call center are calling 9,177 claimants, who have not certified claims by their deadline.

Altogether there are 238,051 claims on the mainframe.

Since March 1, DLIR distributed more than $709.5 million in unemployment including the PUA funds and more than $314.7 million in “plus-up” funds made available by the CARES Act Applicants eligible for plus-up funds temporarily get an extra $600 in weekly benefits.

Nearly $285 million of the total has come from the state unemployment insurance trust fund.

Visit DLIR’s PUA website at lbr.force.com/Unemployment/s/pua-application.

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