comscore Kokua Line: Eligible PUA claimants should be getting $500 Hawaii Restaurant Cards in the mail | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Eligible PUA claimants should be getting $500 Hawaii Restaurant Cards in the mail

  • Hawaii Restaurant Card

    Hawaii Restaurant Card

  • JAMM AQUINO / SEPT. 17
                                The restaurant card program has channeled millions of dollars in federal money to Hawaii’s struggling restaurants. Likelike Drive-Inn is among many that have permanently closed during the pandemic.

    JAMM AQUINO / SEPT. 17

    The restaurant card program has channeled millions of dollars in federal money to Hawaii’s struggling restaurants. Likelike Drive-Inn is among many that have permanently closed during the pandemic.

Question: As of Saturday neither my husband nor I has received a restaurant card. I have called the information line and been told I am on the list at the correct address. What’s up with the delay? If the card does not get here soon, I will not have time to use it. And even if the end date is extended, I am traveling to the mainland for the holidays and will not be here to use it. I can’t get any other answers out of the info line other than that they have the correct addresses listed for us. Can you suggest any other steps to take? And declaring the card as lost or stolen will not result in a new card being issued in time to be used before the end of the program; I asked.

Answer: Given that you had confirmed your eligibility and mailing address and had not received the card by Saturday, we presume that you are eligible because you received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in September, rather than standard Hawaii Unemployment Insurance. Eligible UI claimants received a Hawaii Restaurant Card as early as mid-October, but eligible PUA claimants just started receiving the prepaid debit cards last week.

If you are an eligible PUA claimant, you might receive the $500 card by the time this is published. The funds must be spent by Dec. 15.

Eligibility for the cards good at Hawaii eateries is restricted to state residents who filed for jobless benefits on or after March 1 due to the pandemic and were paid UI or PUA in September for unemployment during that month.

More than 148,000 Hawaii Restaurant Cards have been sent to eligible UI and PUA claimants as part of the state’s $75 million economic stimulus initiative, Gwen Yamamoto Lau, the program’s administrator, said in an email Tuesday. “Eligible PUA claimants started receiving their HRCs last week,” she said.

The state previously had estimated that 116,000 HRCs would be issued to UI claimants, and 32,000 to PUA claimants.

“In most situations in which an eligible recipient has not yet received an HRC, the mail was undeliverable to the address we received,” she said. “Cards that are undeliverable are returned by the U.S. Postal Service and the recipient’s account is notated as ‘undeliverable.’”

That happens rarely, though. As of Tuesday about 1.6% of HRCs were returned due to incomplete (e.g., missing apartment numbers) or outdated addresses on file in the claimant’s portal at the state Department of Labor.

To ensure that cards go to the correct address, Lau said that individuals who believe they are eligible but have not received a Hawaii Restaurant Card can:

>> Check eligibility at myrestaurantcard.hawaii.gov.

>> If eligible, call Money Network’s toll-free customer service number at 800-352-5202. Report the card as lost or stolen and a call center agent should assist you, she said.

“To protect against fraud, Money Network will only update an address if the account has been notated as ‘undeliverable,’ at which time, eligible individuals will need to provide an updated address,” she said.

There is no charge for the first replacement card, but each additional replacement after that costs $3, to be deducted from the card balance.

As of Tuesday the deadline to spend the money stood at Dec. 15, with no extension announced. After that date any money left on the card would be returned to the state.

The HRC may be used at restaurants, bakeries, food caterers and fast-food establishment in Hawaii that accept Debit Mastercard and process under MCC codes 5462, 5811, 5812 and 5814, according to the program’s website, hawaiirestaurant card.com.

Thanksgiving mahalos

Remember to email your Thanksgiving mahalo items by noon today for possible inclusion in Thursday’s column.


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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