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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: What happens to my travel exception if my vaccine card is too messy to read?

Question: When I tried to link my vaccine card in Safe Travels, I got a message that the card was uploaded but could not be verified. When I got my shots, they wrote out the card by hand — it’s pretty messy, I could barely make out the vaccine lot numbers — and they didn’t write my name exactly as it appears on my ID. Is this going to be a big problem when I come home?

Answer: Probably not, assuming that your vaccination exception is valid. Screeners will manually review your vaccination card after you land in Hawaii — be sure to carry it with you. It will take you longer in line at the airport, but they should be able to reconcile most discrepancies, state officials have said, including those caused by messy handwriting and names that don’t exactly match, and ultimately verify your vaccine exception.

Hawaii’s COVID-19 portal (https://hawaiicovid19.com/) says that “the name on the CDC Vaccination Record Card should match the name on the traveler’s identification. However, a shortened, modified variation or contraction of a traveler’s name will be accepted if it can be cross-referenced with the birthdate on the CDC Vaccination Record Card and the traveler’s identification.”

Most complaints we’ve received about this so far involved handwritten vaccine cards; the automated system seems to have an easier time verifying cards on which the information was machine-printed or carefully printed by hand.

At this point the COVID-19 vaccine exception to Hawaii’s quarantine for travelers entering the state applies only to passengers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 who received at least one dose of the vaccine in Hawaii and are entering the state on a domestic flight (not a direct international flight).

Gov. David Ige has said exceptions will be expanded further when 60% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and pandemic-era restrictions will be lifted altogether when 70% are vaccinated. As of Friday, 56% of Hawaii’s population was fully vaccinated, according to the state’s methodology.

Q: As in the case with Japan, does Hawaii have Trusted Testing and Travel Partners in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan?

A: Yes for Taiwan, but there aren’t any listed on the state’s COVID-19 portal for China or Hong Kong. See the full list at https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/.

Q: When will the IRS start paying the Child Tax Credit? I know they are paying it early, but when?

A: Advance Child Tax Credit payments will start in July or the month after your 2020 tax return is processed, whichever is later, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

“The IRS will pay half the total credit amount in advance monthly payments beginning July 15. You will claim the other half when you file your 2021 income tax return. These changes apply to tax year 2021 only,” the agency says on its website.

Q: Regarding MEUC, can people who would have been eligible when the federal government first announced claim it now, even though they have gone back to work and are no longer on UI?

A: Yes, eligible claimants can be paid retroactively, even if they are not collecting unemployment benefits right now, confirmed Bill Kunstman, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Potentially eligible claimants have been notified by email, he said. They would have to apply to confirm eligibility and actually receive a $100 supplemental payment for each week they were or are eligible from the week-ending dates Jan. 1 through Sept. 4. That’s a total of 36 weeks, so the maximum MEUC benefit would be $3,600.

MEUC stands for Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation and is meant to help people who earned too much in W-2 wages to be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance but too little to qualify for much in standard Unemployment Insurance benefits. The federal government created the program at the end of last year, but the state of Hawaii just began accepting applications for it on Thursday.

MEUC is for claimants with a mix of W-2 wages and at least $5,000 in self-employment income for the applicable tax year, which applicants will have to verify. PUA claims are not eligible for MEUC, which can only be paid on a regular UI or extended benefits (EB) claim, according to the DLIR.

For more information, including how to apply, see 808ne.ws/meucfaq.


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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