Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami joined the COVID-19 Care Conversation to share updates on unemployment claims.
Murakami said that DLIR has processed 71% of the claims received. Of the claims processed, over 74% have been paid. There are still over 68,000 claims that need to be processed.
Murakami shared that there are more than 9,000 people who have filed a claim, but have not filed a weekly certification. DLIR has assigned 20 staff members to assist these individuals who are having difficulty certifying by walking the individuals through the process by phone. Murakami urged those who are trying to certify their claim online to “not give up,” and suggested evenings when the volume is lower. In an effort to help with the certification process, DLIR has also removed the 3-week certification window which means claims can no longer be classified as “inactive.”
When asked when DLIR will offer in-person assistance, Murakami could not say. He said the department is currently in the planning stages to determine how best to address this and that the first concern is for public safety. The department plans to take into consideration adequate social distancing and state requirements to provide in-person services in the future.
Since March 1, the state Unemployment Insurance trust has paid out over $284 million of the $594 million available funds. DLIR projects that the fund will be exhausted by June 11 and is therefore seeking support from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Murakami said they have been applying for the support “diligently and on time” so that if the state fund were to expire, the department would be able to continue providing benefits.
DLIR continues to receive approximately 1000-2000 new filings per day. Murakami does not believe the department will be caught up by the end of May as originally planned. He expressed his gratitude for the community’s patience while the department works to process the high number of claims during this unprecedented time.
Watch here and comment through our Facebook page. Join us tomorrow for our “Ask a Doctor” segment with Dr. Jennifer King from Hawaii Pacific Health.
The COVID-19 Care Conversation, sponsored by Hawai’i Executive Collaborative and Hawaii Pacific Health, airs live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Yunji de Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji discuss the latest news, resources and community concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii.