Kokua Line is getting numerous questions from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants who are being asked for more information to verify their eligibility. As we reported Thursday (808ne.ws/ 318kline), the U.S. Continued Assistance Act signed into law last year imposes new documentation rules on claimants in the federally funded program for the self-employed and others not eligible for standard unemployment insurance. Bill Kunstman, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, explained these fact-finding queries, which will be issued to more claimants soon:
Question: Will all PUA claimants have to do this? Even those who have been receiving PUA consistently since the program launched last year and submitted documentation at that time?
Answer: No, claimants who previously submitted sufficient identity verification and program eligibility documentation for their initial claim will not be queried to repeat that process; some claimants responded to earlier inquiries. Such verification is not the only element of the CAA, however. “Importantly … the CAA also requires PUA claimants to attest weekly that they are still subject to the COVID-19 disruptions and this is continuing to affect them.”
The department tested the revised fact-finding system Thursday and expects it to go live Saturday, Kunstman said, describing it as a web form that is user-friendly and offers claimants the ability to submit timely documentation.
Q: What documentation does the CAA require?
A: “PUA claimants are required to provide proof of employment, self-employment, or the loss of future employment that was terminated due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Currently, there is a banner up on the PUA website (pua. hawaii.gov) notifying claimants of the forthcoming request for additional documentation. Claimants will be required to check which of the three situations applies to them to answer employment substantiation questions. Each box will include types of documents that can be used to support the attestation, which includes proof of employment, self-employment or lost future employment in the applicable tax year. Each item will include the ability to submit other documents along with a description of those documents.
“If the PUA claim was filed with a benefit year date prior to Jan. 3, 2021, the claimant must provide documentation of employment/self-employment or offer of employment that occurred between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 27, 2020. If the initial claim was filed with a benefit year beginning date of Jan. 3, 2021, the claimant must submit documentation that substantiates the claim between Jan. 1, 2020, and the effective date of the claim.
“Individuals who have an existing PUA claim as of Dec. 27, 2020 (the enactment date of the Continued Assistance Act), OR who file a new initial PUA claim before Jan. 31, 2021, and who receive PUA on or after Dec. 27, 2020, must provide documentation within 90 days of the application date or the date the individual is instructed to provide such documentation by the state agency (whichever date is later). Our date requirement is by June 2, 2021.
“Individuals filing a new PUA application on or after Jan. 31, 2021 (regardless of whether the claim is backdated), are required to provide documentation within 21 days of application.”
Kunstman said the document checklists on the revised web-based fact-finding forms should be clear to most claimants. Any PUA claimant who needs assistance after receiving a fact-finding query, or for any other PUA matter, may call the DLIR call center. PUA claimants will no longer be able to submit questions online, via PUA’s web page, Kunstman said. “We are discontinuing the PUA ticket system,” he said.
The call center’s numbers are 833-901-2272, 833-901-2275, 808-762-5751 or 808-762-5752. Say “2” for PUA assistance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.