Question: I was furloughed in March and went through that nightmare of filing for unemployment and it finally worked out. But then luckily my boss called me back to work and obviously I stopped collecting unemployment. It was slow, but we were open. But with this second shutdown, it looks like we are going to be laid off permanently. When I get laid off, do I file a whole new claim and start all over? I dread going through this again.
Answer: Kokua Line is hearing from many people in the same boat, who were furloughed, went back to work briefly, and now face layoff. I’m sorry that this happening to you, and to all the others who have called and emailed.
To answer your question: No, you should not file a new initial unemployment claim once you are laid off. Instead, you should certify and reactivate your existing claim — the one that you stopped certifying on a weekly basis after you went back to work.
The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations posted an infographic on its website to help guide claimants who had been furloughed but are now being laid off, so that they report their job separation correctly and don’t slow down their processing.
Here’s a link to the instructions, 808ne.ws/jobsep, which we’ll also recap briefly:
Step 1: Log into your unemployment insurance account at huiclaims.hawaii.gov/#/ to certify a weekly claim. When you get to the question asking if you were still employed as of the relevant date, select “No” from the drop-down menu.
Step 2: Select the reason for the job separation. If you were laid off after a furlough, the reason would be “laid off/lack of work,” which means your employer will not be calling you back to work.
Step 3: After filing this weekly claim certification, reactivate your claim, which is a multi-step process:
>> Click on “Reactivate a Claim” on your dashboard
>> That should prompt the question, “Why are you reactivating your claim?” From the drop-down menu, select the option that indicates you are reporting a job separation from an employer.
>> Answer subsequent questions, including stating that you are no longer with the employer, your last date of employment, and the reason for your job separation. You should select the same reason on your claim reactivation as you chose on your weekly claim certification.
Q: I am on standard UI, which has a limit of 26 weeks of payments. Wasn’t there a federal extension? Will that be added automatically?
A: People who’ve been laid off continuously since March are nearing the end of their 26 weeks; as with the first question, we’re hearing from a lot of readers in this boat.
The federal extension you are referring to is called Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation, which provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits to those who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation and have a zero- dollar balance in their UI accounts, according to a notice on the website of the DLIR’s Unemployment Insurance Division.
Payment isn’t automatic. You have to apply, which you can do by signing into your UI account and clicking the link under the PEUC announcement, according to the notice, which describes five pre-qualifying questions, 808ne.ws/peucapp.
Note: One of the questions asks whether you have applied for unemployment benefits in another state or federal program. If you applied but were determined to be ineligible, you should answer “No” to this question, the notice says.
Mahalo to the kind soul who stopped and helped me up when I stumbled while walking for exercise on Hawaii Kai Drive on Tuesday. I wondered if anyone would stop, what with people being so afraid to interact during the pandemic, but a young man did without hesitation and for that I am very grateful. The humiliation of falling was worse than any injury. — Recovering kupuna
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