Question: The state says it is processing the PEUC extension in batches (808ne.ws/212sty). Whose claims are going first?
Answer: The first batch to be processed will include claimants who exhausted their first round of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation before Dec. 26 and who elected to wait for the second round of PEUC rather than signing up for a different program called Extended Benefits, or EB20, said Bill Kunstman, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Those PEUC1 exhaustees awaiting PEUC2 have not received weekly benefits since Dec. 26 or earlier, depending on when their first round of PEUC expired.
Other claims awaiting PEUC2 had exhausted PEUC1 after Dec. 26 and will be processed after the first batch in no particular order, he said. The department will process claims in batches of 5,000 to 10,000 a night, because that’s all the mainframe computer can handle, he said. It has about 68,000 potentially eligible claims to process, according to a news release from the department.
PEUC is the federally funded benefit for people who have exhausted their 26 weeks of standard state Unemployment Insurance. The first round of PEUC lasted 13 weeks. The extension is for 11 weeks.
News that the DLIR would begin processing the PEUC extension approved by Congress and then-President Trump last year has prompted many questions to Kokua Line. Here are some answers, from Kunstman and from the DLIR website, which has FAQs posted at 808ne.ws/peucfaq. You can also find the FAQ by going to the department’s main page, labor.hawaii.gov, and clicking on the “News” header. From there, click on the link that says “State Announces CARES Act Extension Update.”
Q: Do I have to apply for PEUC2? I applied for the first round and was waiting for the rest.
A: No, you don’t have to apply, but you do need to log into your UI account to make sure your mailing address is correct, check for a revised monetary determination and certify your PEUC2 claims dating back to Jan. 2 once your revised monetary determination is available, Kunstman said. Notices of revised monetary determination also will be mailed to claimants’ home addresses, as required by law, but the information may be available sooner in your UI account, he said.
Q: Regarding PEUC2, will we be able to certify our back weeks all at once? When we are processed, will we get the money in a lump sum?
A: Yes, after you receive your revised monetary determination, you should be able to certify claims for eligible weeks dating back to the week ending Jan. 2 and, after a few days for processing, receive the retroactive payments in a lump sum. Payments will include your weekly benefit amount and $300 a week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, popularly known as “the plus-up.”
It may take about two weeks for everyone eligible to receive their revised monetary determination by mail. The claims themselves will be processed in batches starting Tuesday and it will take at least a week to get through them all, assuming all goes well. Based on the timing DLIR has released, it appears most eligible PEUC2 claimants should receive money by early March.
Q: Will we get the plus-up during what DLIR is calling the “phaseout” period?
A: No, Kunstman said. The “phaseout” applies to PEUC2, not FPUC. Officially, the payable week-ending dates for PEUC2 are Jan. 2 through March 13. However, claimants who receive PEUC2 on March 13 and have eligible weeks remaining (meaning they have not exhausted the benefit) can continue to collect PEUC2 through the week ending April 10. The period from March 13 to April 10 is known as the phaseout. The phaseout does not apply to FPUC, which cuts off March 13. These dates may change if Congress and President Biden further extend federal unemployment benefits.
Q: I am currently receiving EB20. Will I also be able to claim PEUC2?
A: You will have to exhaust your EB20 benefits first, and before March 13, according to the DLIR, which says you can’t switch programs in the middle. EB20 is Hawaii’s name for the Extended Benefits program, which pays 13 weeks of unemployment compensation in states with high unemployment rates. According to the DLIR, if you exhaust your EB20 benefits before March 13, you’ll receive a PEUC2 monetary determination. Then you would be able to certify PEUC2 claims dating back to the week that you exhausted EB20. If you receive PEUC2 for the week ending March 13 and have a remaining PEUC2 balance at that point, you could continue to collect through the week ending April 10.
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 email@example.com.