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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Expiring Hawaii jobless claims are being extended in batches

Question: I have been furloughed for almost a year and am on PEUC. On my UI dashboard account, it now shows the funds which came in from the American Rescue Plan and says I have a balance available. However, it also says that my benefit year ends on March 28, which is next week. Does this mean I have to reapply for UI or PEUC or does it mean that it is the end of my benefits and I’m now toast!? I have never been able to get through on their call center lines.

Answer: You’re not toast. The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is auto­ma- tically extending expiring claims and also giving a subset of eligible claimants the option of filing a new regular claim instead.

Bill Kunstman, a DLIR spokesman, explained how the department is handling the most recent extension of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC):

>> The Unemployment Insurance (UI) Division is automatically extending expiring claims for people who are not eligible to file a new regular claim based on recent earnings. These extensions are being done in nightly batches by expiration week, he said; claimants don’t have to do anything to initiate the extension. This week the division is processing extensions for claims that exhausted March 21, he said. Your benefit year doesn’t end until next week so your claim wouldn’t have been batched yet. Claimants should certify their claims as usual, as soon as their benefit year has been extended.

>> If a claimant is eligible to file a new regular claim based on recent earnings, and the weekly benefit amount on their new regular claim would be at least $25 less than their current PEUC, the claimant has options, Kunstman said. The claimant may choose to extend their existing PEUC claim and postpone their new regular claim, or they can file the new regular claim. Claimants in this category are supposed to get an electronic notification from the DLIR alerting them to the details once their benefit year expires, but there have been glitches, Kunstman said. The UI division is working to correct the problem. Claimants are being notified in batches by expiration date; all claims are not processed at once. Peter Yee, a moderator for the Hawaii Unemployment Updates & Support Group, said that most claimants in this situation would choose to continue on PEUC, exhausting their eligibility in that program before moving on to a new regular claim.

Kunstman said the automatic extensions have occurred seamlessly in batches, but the electronic notification of claimants eligible to choose whether or not to file a new claim has caused some problems. As of Wednesday, he did not know the scope of the problem or how long it would take to resolve.

“We are batch processing by the claim-exhaust date. The claims that were not eligible for a new claim that exhausted by March 13 have been processed. If they (exhausted by that date and) haven’t had an extension it’s probably because they are eligible for a new claim. We did have a glitch with the email notification for people who are eligible for a new claim and are working on that,” he said Wednesday.

Claimants whose benefit year has expired should check their UI portals and their email for any messages from UI.

Tax Deadline

It’s official: The state of Hawaii is not postponing its income-tax filing deadline, which remains April 20. Taxpayers may exercise an automatic six-month extension on filing their paperwork, as long as they pay any taxes due by the April deadline — or they’re getting a refund. No form is needed for the extension. The federal government has extended its tax-filing deadline to May 17.


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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