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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Trump’s delayed approval won’t cost claimants a week of federal jobless aid, state says

Question: I am on PEUC. Are we going to lose a week because President Trump held onto the bill?

Answer: No, your federal jobless aid may be delayed, but the money won’t be lost outright, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, which received guidance Monday from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“DOL’s interpretation is that there is no funding gap” for eligible claimants on Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, said Bill Kunstman, a DLIR spokesman, even though President Trump signed the bill extending those programs Sunday, a day after they expired. Trump had received the bill Thursday, after Congress passed it Dec. 21.

Kunstman said claimants should certify their PUA or PEUC claims as usual. Payments may be delayed as the DLIR updates its processing systems, but eligible claims will be paid in full retroactively, he said.

Q: So we shouldn’t sign up for EB20?

A: That’s correct. Now that PEUC has been extended, claimants who were about to switch to EB20 (an extended unemployment benefit) should stay on PEUC until they exhaust that benefit, Kunstman said. “We’ve stopped auto-processing EB applications, and we’re hoping to facilitate people going on to PEUC rather than EB” if they are eligible, he said.

Q: If I got the stimulus last time, will I automatically get it this time?

A: Not necessarily, because the payment is smaller and therefore phases out at a lower income this time around, at least as spelled out in the $900 billion relief package that Congress approved Dec. 21 and which President Trump signed into law Sunday.

That bill includes economic impact payments of up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples filing jointly, plus $600 for each of their eligible dependents. By contrast, the first round of stimulus paid up to $1,200, $2,400 and $500 for those categories, respectively.

As in the first round, eligible individuals who reported adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less on their 2019 taxes would receive the full amount this time, as would couples with AGI of $150,000 or less and heads of households with AGI of $112,500 or less. The payment falls $5 for every $100 earned over the threshold.

“Because the maximum size of a stimulus check this time is half the size of the first round, some people who earn more than $75,000 per year and got a check in the spring may not get one in the second round. Roughly estimated, individuals who earned more than $87,000 in 2019, couples that made more than $174,000, and head of households who earned more than $124,500 may not get payments in the second round,” according to the AARP.

Trump wants Congress to increase the stimulus to $2,000, which means people with higher incomes would receive at least a partial payment. The House approved the increase Monday and sent the bill to the Senate, where approval is not assured.

Auwe

Every day on my morning walk, which includes passing through three narrow places, I encounter countless bikers, joggers and walkers who do not have a face mask that they could easily raise and lower when they need to pass me. It occurs to me that many of them could easily be asymptomatic “super spreaders.” The same holds true for our public rights of way to the beach, many of which also do not provide the required 6-foot distancing. I do see some other people besides myself who follow the rule requiring a face mask unless physical distancing can be maintained at all times. They either cross to the other side of the road or pull their masks up over their mouths and noses when not able to maintain the 6-foot distancing. Mahalo nui loa to them! — M.H.

Mahalo

On Saturday at about 5 p.m., I went to the Kahala Mall Starbucks drive-thru. At the checkout the cashier said my purchase has been paid by the customer in front of me (in a black truck) and said “Merry Christmas.” I was so dazed that I couldn’t think, as this has never happened to me. I wanted to thank him but couldn’t find the truck. Thank you very much, and I wish you a joyous New Year’s from a grateful senior.


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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