More than 40,000 Hawaii residents rely on federal unemployment compensation programs that are scheduled to end Saturday. Here are answers from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to the most common questions Kokua Line is receiving:
Question: What is the deadline to file for the last week of PEUC?
Answer: The last payable week for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation ends Saturday. Claim certifications for that week must be filed by Sept. 11. “It is absolutely critical” that claimants certify by the deadline to avoid problems that would delay or prevent processing, said DLIR spokesman Bill Kunstman.
Q: I am collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Is that also ending?
A: Yes. The separate federally funded program for the self-employed and others not eligible for standard Unemployment Insurance and its federal extensions also is scheduled to expire. You may certify your PUA claim as usual for the last payable week, which is the week ending Saturday.
Q: I was an events planner and worked dried up, and I also lost child care. I qualified for PUA. Now that PUA is ending, can I file for regular UI?
A: Based on your description, no, because you haven’t earned enough income during a specified time period — requirements to qualify for standard unemployment insurance. People who haven’t worked at all during the pandemic or who have only worked “under the table” or “off the books” won’t qualify for UI. The DLIR explains that a person’s UI claim is based on wages earned during a base period. To establish a claim, “you must have been paid wages in at least two quarters of your base period,” and “you must have been paid wages of at least 26 times your weekly benefit amount.”
Q: Is there any other program if I don’t qualify for a new claim? What about Extended Benefits?
A: At this time, only the regular Unemployment Insurance program will be available once the federal programs end. The Extended Benefits program is not currently active in Hawaii.
Q: I am on regular UI — I haven’t exhausted yet. Will I still get the plus-up?
A: No, not after the week ending Saturday. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, commonly known as the plus-up, is expiring along with the other federal unemployment benefits. As long as you are eligible and certify your claims, you would continue to receive your standard UI weekly benefit amount, but without the $300 weekly federal “plus-up.” Standard UI lasts a maximum of 26 weeks within a claimant’s benefit year.
Q: Can I make an appointment to try to resolve a problem with my PUA account? Will I get the money if I can get the pending issue cleared, even after PUA closes?
A: Yes, make an appointment at https://labor.hawaii.gov/ui/appointments. Choose the PUA reservation button from among the four available options. Yes, you can receive PUA funds after the program officially ends, if the problem with your claim is resolved in your favor.
Q: How many people are still collecting unemployment in Hawaii?
A: As of Wednesday there were 25,441 active PEUC claimants and 15,315 active PUA claimants in Hawaii. The DLIR could not estimate how many will be eligible for standard Unemployment Insurance after the federal programs end.
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