The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations today announced a new pilot program offering unemployment insurance claimants one-on-one appointments with staff via videoconference or phone.
The online appointment system will be active by next Monday via labor.hawaii.gov/ui, according to DLIR in a news release, with the first appointments available on April 20.
DLIR said appointments will be available every Tuesday and Thursday, but did not offer specific hours. The pilot will start on Oahu first, and then expand to neighbor isles.
Meanwhile, DLIR says it does not anticipate any lag in benefits for most claimants under updates resulting from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Regular unemployment insurance claims normally expire after 52 weeks, DLIR said, but with the federal extensions, most claimants will have their claim automatically extended and receive benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation program.
“It is our top priority right now to ensure claimants experience a seamless transition as the federal unemployment benefit programs are extended through the first week of September,” said DLIR Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio in the release. “In anticipation that the final version of the legislation extending the CARES Act programs would be absent major changes, we proactively started programming the changes that are saving thousands the financial hardship and lag in payments we saw earlier this year due to a delay in federal action.”
DLIR has also hired a vendor, Solid State Operations, Inc., to investigate overpayments, with 25 investigators scheduled to start next Tuesday.
To date, DLIR said approximately $5.3 billion in pandemic benefits have been distributed in Hawaii.