comscore Kokua Line: Bonus for jobless gap group not assured in Hawaii; state awaits federal guidance, foresees technical difficulties | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Bonus for jobless gap group not assured in Hawaii; state awaits federal guidance, foresees technical difficulties

Question: I read that some states are offering an additional $100 per week for unemployed gig workers who had mixed W-2 and 1099 forms in 2019. My husband has worked as an independent contractor, and we’ve filed our 1099s faithfully for years. However, he also worked briefly for an agency that was contracted by a major hotel. The agency had benefits (including unemployment insurance) taken out of his paycheck, and he was given a W-2 at the end of 2019 as an employee. He worked only eight days spread out over three months. COVID-19 closed all the venues, and he is out of work like most musicians. He applied for PUA but was disqualified because of the unemployment insurance that was taken out by the agency mentioned earlier. He was given $77 a week unemployment. While I am grateful for $77 a week, it is not an amount anyone can survive on. We paid our GE taxes that show we had a much higher income. The state tax and IRS filings show this. That being said: Is Hawaii among the states that are planning to give gig workers this extra $100? If yes, how do gig workers who have mixed W-2 and self-employment receive the extra $100 boost?

Answer: Hawaii intends to participate in the new, federally funded Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation program, but needs detailed information from the U.S. Department of Labor before deciding for sure whether to do so, said Bill Kunstman, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

So we can’t definitively answer either of your questions, which many other readers in the same boat also are asking.

Most states are waiting for USDOL’s formal guidance before deciding whether to participate, Kunstman said Tuesday, adding that states with legacy IT systems (which include Hawaii) foresee “major challenges” in rolling out the program.

In its formal guidance, the federal department would spell out exactly how MEUC should operate, at which point states can decide whether to participate. This process is similar to the rollout of other new federally funded programs to help the unemployed, such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Lost Wages Assistance, in which Hawaii ultimately did participate.

The guidance could come as early as this week, but is more likely to arrive after the new year, he said, adding that the DLIR will issue updates as soon as it can.

In states that participate, MEUC would pay $100 a week in federal funds to individuals with at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income who were disqualified from PUA because they were eligible for regular state unemployment benefits. The mixed-earner supplement would be on top of the $300 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, the “plus-up” added to a claimant’s weekly jobless aid. MEUC would bring the “plus-up” to $400 a week for people like your husband and thousands of others in Hawaii, who were left with meager UI benefits because most but not all of their previous earnings came from self-employment.

In Hawaii the minimum UI benefit is $5 a week, while the minimum PUA benefit is $263 a week, for people who are totally unemployed.

Q: Did they fix the flaw that denied dependents older than 16 a stimulus payment?

A: No. The second round of stimulus payments has the same age limit for dependents as the first: 16.

We heard from many readers angry that the first stimulus denied payments for 17-year-old high schoolers living at home, as well as for young adults in college who do not support themselves.

There’s no age change in the second round; the gap group of older teens and college students claimed as dependents still won’t be eligible.

What did change is the amount paid for each dependent who is eligible: It’s $600, $100 more than in the first round of stimulus.

Q: What about adult dependents?

A: No, an adult claimed as a dependent on a 2019 tax return still is not eligible for a stimulus check.


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.


Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature
Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up