Questions About Unemployment Insurance (UI)

Unemployment Insurance provides temporary financial assistance to qualified workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Benefits are not based on need. Benefit eligibility requirements, such as weekly benefit amounts, are determined by state law and vary from state to state.

Employers pay a contribution tax based on a percentage of their payroll into the Unemployment Trust Fund. Workers DO NOT pay taxes into the unemployment program and NO deductions are taken from your paycheck. If you had more than one employer, your employers will share in the costs. Employers also pay a federal tax, which pays for the administrative costs of the program as well as for extension of benefits during periods of high unemployment

Your claim will be based on wages paid to you in your base period. To establish a Hawaii claim:
1) You must have been paid wages in at least two quarters of your base period; and
2) You must have been paid wages of at least 26 times your weekly benefit amount.

Your claim is good for a one-year period called the benefit year. However, you can be paid only for 26 weeks of total unemployment during the one-year period that your claim is effective.

If an individual is retired and does not plan to return to work to the same extent that they were working, the individual would not be considered able and available for work, and therefore would not qualify for unemployment. If an individual retired voluntarily, they need to report that they quit their job.

WEEKLY BENEFIT AMOUNT: The amount is determined by state law and based on the gross wages paid to you in your base period. In Hawaii, your weekly benefit amount is equal to 1/21 of the highest quarter wages in your base period, with a maximum limit of $648 for claims filed in 2020. The total amount of benefits payable during the benefit year is 26 times your weekly benefit amount.

BASE PERIOD: Every state uses a base period to determine what quarters will be used to establish your claim. In Hawaii, the standard base period is the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters. If you do not qualify using the standard base period, an alternate base period (the last 4 completed calendar quarters) may be used. Use the online Benefit Estimator at uiclaims.hawaii.gov to calculate your weekly benefit amount.

PENSION DEDUCTIONS: Retirement income from both private and government employment, including military retirement pensions, and disability or non-disability pensions, must be reported to the claims office. These sources of income may be deductible from your weekly benefit amount and a determination will be made by your local claims office.
OTHER INCOME: Earnings over $150 from a part-time job are also deductible. Report all income from all sources and the local claims office will make the determination.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS ARE TAXABLE INCOME. You can elect to have federal or state income taxes deducted from your unemployment checks. At the end of the calendar year, Form 1099G is mailed to you for your records and the amount you received is reported to the Internal Revenue Service and the State Tax Office.

IF THE REASON FOR YOUR UNEMPLOYMENT WAS OTHER THAN COVID-19, a decision will be made on your separation to determine if benefits are allowed or denied. Decisions are also made on your refusals of work, your availability for work, and other issues which affect your eligibility for benefits.

OTHER INFORMATION:
For more information, forms, and addresses for local claims offices, visit our website at:
http://labor.hawaii.gov/ui. Call or email your local unemployment claims office if you have any questions. Do not rely on advice from friends or relatives or you may run into problems on your claim.

Once it has been determined that you have been overpaid and are legally obligated to repay the amount, UI will attempt to offset the overpayment amount against current or future eligible weeks of benefits. Should you have an outstanding overpayment balance at the end of the month, you will receive a monthly bill until the outstanding balance is satisfied. (Note this applies to reg. UI only.)

The law requires you to be able and available for work, so if you are traveling for non-work related reasons, you are ineligible for UI  benefits during your travel period.

If you are monetarily eligible for UI benefits, but denied for not being able and available for work, you can apply for PUA.

Your weekly benefit amount is the amount of UI benefits that you can receive each week. Your exact weekly benefit amount can be found on your UI account or your monetary determination letter. You must report your gross earnings (earnings before taxes) when filing your claim certifications. Your reported earnings will be deducted from your weekly benefit amount.

Please contact the Department of Taxation about tax-related questions. Their contact information can be found here: https://tax.hawaii.gov/contact/

For security purposes, this information is not available for viewing online. The entry and maintenance of this information is controlled by the individual.

You do not need to notify UI when you update your direct deposit information.

Generally, individuals who quit their jobs due to PCS with their spouse are eligible to receive UI benefits. However, this is not always the case, as individuals may have additional issues that may result in their disqualification, such as not being able and available for work.

To report a job separation, you need to reactivate your claim. The instructions to reactivate your claim can be found here: https://labor.hawaii.gov/ui/main/reactivate-your-claim-and-report-job-seperation/

If your regular UI claim’s benefit year ended and you are eligible for a new claim, you need to file a new UI claim. If your PEUC claim’s benefit end year expired, you may be eligible for a new UI claim. If this is the case, you would receive an email informing you of that. If your PEUC’s claim benefit end year expired, and you do not qualify for a new claim, the benefit end year of your PEUC claim may be extended if there is a remaining balance.

This most likely explanation is that the claimant filed the claim certification outside business hours, so the claim certification is being held in queue. The claimant should still receive an email confirmation of the claim certification being filed, however, the the claim certification will not show up on the UI system until it comes back online.

Notifications advising individuals of the re-certification process were sent on 7/22/21. Claimants had two weeks to re-certify for any week that was denied. Depending on your answers, a new COVID-19 Eligibility issue may be generated and require a claims examiner’s review.

This means that the claimant was not able and available for work for any reason unrelated to COVID-19.

If you earned more than your weekly benefit amount, then your claim certification for the week in question will show as “disqualified”.

No, you do not. You can stop filing claim certifications if you have returned to work full-time.

Unfortunately, you cannot edit the initial claim once it has been submitted.

A new phone number will not change your login process. However, please update the telephone number on your UI account, as this information is used to contact you.

No. Food delivery drivers are considered covered employment, not self-employment.

You are only able to cancel up to 48 hours before the appointment time. You can click on the original email that you got when you signed up for your appointment and choose the cancel option.

You can make an appointment by going to https://labor.hawaii.gov/ui/appointments/ using a computer or cell phone that has an internet browser.

If an appeal reversed a UI decision, your UI claim will be adjusted accordingly.

Questions About Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will receive the additional $100 benefit for any week that you were eligible for regular UI or extended benefits and were paid benefits between the weeks ending January 2, 2021 and September 4, 2021.

You will need to submit your Federal tax return for the most recent tax year ending prior to your application for UI benefits. For example, if your UI claim is effective March 15, 2020, you will need to submit your 2019 Federal tax return. You must include all supporting schedules, including schedules C, E, F and K-1, if applicable (Forms 1040, 1065).

When you apply for MEUC, you will be prompted to create a password to log into your account on the PUA website (pua.hawaii.gov), which is being used as the application intake for MEUC and to process determinations. After you log into your account, you will be presented fact-finding that will allow you to upload the necessary documentation.

You will receive a MEUC determination notice by mail or email. If you opted for mail correspondence, you will receive the letter in the mail. If you opted for electronic correspondence, you will receive an email notification when the determination is made prompting you to log into your account at pua.hawaii.gov to read the determination letter.

Yes, the MEUC determination can be appealed.

No, there are no special claim certifications for MEUC. You will file your weekly claim certifications for regular UI at uiclaims.hawaii.gov. If eligible for MEUC, the additional benefits will be paid automatically for the weeks that you are eligible for regular UI or extended benefits.

Your payment will go to the direct deposit account that you entered on your UI claim. If your bank account information has changed, please update the information on your account at uiclaims.hawaii.gov. If your claim has gone inactive, you will need to reactive your claim in order to update your bank information.

No. Individuals collecting PUA are not eligible for MEUC. MEUC can only be paid on a regular UI or extended benefits claim.

If you received regular UI or extended benefits (i.e., PEUC/EB20) during the MEUC eligibility period and you meet the MEUC eligibility requirements, you may be eligible for the supplemental benefits.

For the purposes of determining income for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), MEUC payments are not exempt and may affect an individual’s eligibility for these programs.

2104(f) of the Cares Act states, in part, that if an individual has knowingly made, or caused to be made by another, a false statement or representation of a material fact, or knowingly has failed, or caused another to fail, to disclose a material fact, and as a result of such false statement or representation or of such nondisclosure such individual and had received MEUC:

  • The individual shall be ineligible to receive further MEUC.
  • The individual shall be subject to criminal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. §1001.
  • The individual shall be required to repay the MEUC benefits including a 15% monetary penalty.

Yes, the MEUC determination can be appealed. You must mail your appeal to the Employment Security Appeals Referees Office (ESARO), 830 Punchbowl St. Room 429 , Honolulu, HI 96813 and include a copy of your MEUC determination.

Questions About Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

YES. If you fail to respond to the fact-finding, you will be denied PUA benefits retroactively effective January 2, 2021. All benefits received after that date will be considered overpaid, and you will be required to pay them back.

The type of documents that you will submit will depend on the reason why you applied for PUA benefits. Below is a list of some documents that can be submitted for consideration:

For employment:

  • Paycheck stub
  • Leave and earnings statement(s)
  • W-2

For self-employment:

  • General Excise (GE) tax payment or supporting documentation to show that self-employment was performed in the applicable tax year.
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) registration documentation and supporting documentation to show that self-employment was performed in the applicable tax year.
  • Business license and supporting documentation to show that self-employment was performed in the applicable tax year.
  • Tax return with all supporting schedules, including Schedules C, E, F, and K-1, if applicable.
  • Business receipt(s) or invoices with corresponding proof of payment/receipt of payment

For commencement of work:

  • Letter(s) offering employment
  • Statement(s) or affidavit(s) by individual(s) (with name and contact information) verifying offer of employment

After your documents are submitted, a claims examiner will review them and issue a determination based on the information provided.  If the claims examiner needs additional information or documents, they will send you a Web Notice that will also explain how to submit the additional information or documents.  Otherwise, the claims examiner will issue a determination that can be appealed.

If there is fact-finding for a particular issue, documents can be uploaded in the fact-finding portal. However, if an individual wishes to submit more documents to fact-finding that was already submitted, they should contact the call center to request that the fact-finding be reopened.

If you know how much you will earn in commission during the week that you worked, you must report the gross earnings on the claim certification for that week. If you do not know how much commission you will earn, then you must report the gross earnings during the week that you get paid.

No, you do not have to have the document attesting to your self-employment notarized.  However, you must provide information related to your self-employment, such as your business license, GE license, invoices, etc.

There are many different claim-specific reasons for why you may be advised to switch between programs. In general, if you qualify for regular UI or any federal or state extensions, you are not eligible to receive PUA. If you were initially denied regular UI but later became eligible based on wages reported in later quarters, you would be advised that you are no longer eligible for PUA and to reapply for regular UI.

The PUA system will continue accepting applications until 10/04/21. Eligible claims will be backdated to match the date of the UI claim, if the COVID-19 impact is established.

You are not able to switch programs. If you are receiving PUA benefits, it is because you were found to be ineligible for UI.

Mail your written request to ATTN: PUA, 830 Punchbowl St., Room 325, Honolulu, HI 96813.

No, the PUA program ended on September 5, 2021. No new applications will be accepted.

No, the PUA system does not deduct taxes. You are responsible for paying taxes on the benefits that you receive.

If you are working full-time, you should stop filing for PUA. If you are working part-time and making less than your weekly benefit amounts, you may qualify for partial benefits. You must report that you worked and provide the gross earnings on your weekly claim certification.

You should not file for weeks that you are receiving a PPP loan if it is for wage replacement. If you received a PPP loan for a period that you have already been paid PUA, you should report it. You can send a letter with the weeks and amounts that you received PPP to ATTN: PUA, 830 Punchbowl St., Room 325, Honolulu, HI 96813.

No, Social Security benefits are not deductible from PUA.

Yes, but you must update your address through your online PUA account.

You can still file claim certifications, however, you must report all hours worked and all gross earnings.

There shouldn’t be any issues with loading the PUA website, except during scheduled maintenance windows. The last scheduled maintenance took place during a few hours on 7/17/21.

There is a password reset link on the login page, however, if you forget your secret question or if the phone number or email on your two-factor authentication has changed, you will need to contact the call center at (833) 901-2275 or (808) 762-5752 and say “2” for PUA assistance.

I aIf your child has returned to school, you can no longer select “a child or other person in my household for which I am the primary caregiver is unable to attend school…” as an option on your weekly claim certification. If no other COVID-19 situation applies to you, you must select “none of the above apply to me.”

Yes, you may. You will not be able to file for any weeks beyond the week ending September 4, 2021.

The PUA system is available all day, unless there is maintenance or updates being conducted. You do not have to file a claim certification before a certain time on the PUA system.

Questions about the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) $25 Option

Under the Continued Assistance Act (CAA), the PEUC $25 Option allows qualified claimants to remain on PEUC as long as the weekly benefit of the new initial claim would be at least $25 less than the weekly benefit of the PEUC claim. For example, if the weekly benefit of your PEUC claim is $648, you can remain on PEUC if the weekly benefit amount of the new claim is under $624. If the difference between your PEUC claim and new initial claim is less than $25, you will not be provided this option.

Under the Continued Assistance Act (CAA), the PEUC program was modified to allow individuals to continue to receive PEUC benefits at the higher weekly benefit amount despite being eligible for benefits on a new initial claim.

To qualify for the PEUC $25 Option: (1) you must have received PEUC benefits and have a remaining balance on your PEUC claim on or after December 27, 2020; (2) the benefit year of your original claim must have expired and you filed a new initial claim and (3) your new initial claim must have a weekly benefit amount of at least $25 less than that of your current PEUC claim.

During the process of applying for a new regular UI claim, the system has been programmed to automatically identify if you meet the $25 threshold. You will be asked if you wish to continue on PEUC or proceed with your new initial claim.

If you qualified for the PEUC $25 Option, you received a message informing you that you could choose to remain on PEUC when you filed a new initial claim.

It may take up to one week before you start receiving benefits.

You cannot change your answer to the PEUC $25 Option.

Yes, you will continue to receive the FPUC benefits until the week ending September 5, 2021, regardless of which program that you are receiving benefits.

Federal guidelines require the UI Division at the change of each quarter, or every three months, to check if a claimant with an expired claim or who is on an extension claim can establish a new benefit year in the state or any other state, including by combining wages from two or more states. The next change quarter begins July 2021.

If you do not qualify for a new initial claim or previously selected to remain on PEUC, your benefit year end date will automatically be extended to September 5, 2021, which is when the PEUC program concludes.

If you qualify for a new initial claim in July 2021, you will receive an email informing you to file a new initial claim.

The UI is reviewing claims that are expiring on a weekly basis to determine whether the individual qualifies for a new UI claim or can remain on PEUC. If you qualify for a new UI claim, you will receive an email informing you of this. If you do not qualify for a new UI claim, your benefit year end date will be extended, and you will remain on PEUC.

It may take up to 21 business days to determine your new benefits as the Unemployment Insurance Division confirms your eligibility based on the reported wages and last day worked.

No, you will not be able to collect the balance on your PEUC claim after the week ending September 4, 2021.

Yes, having a part-time job is returning to work.  However, to qualify for a new UI claim, you will need to meet all the requirements to qualify for one.  For more information, click here.

Your PEUC claim’s expiration date was changed from a date after September 5, 2021 to September 5, 2021 because the PEUC program ended on September 5, 2021. You will not be able to file any claim certifications beyond the week ending September 4, 2021.

You cannot qualify for a new PEUC claim because the PEUC program ended.

Questions about the End of Federal Programs

Yes,our new UI claim will be reinstated when the PEUC benefits end. You can continue to collect benefits under the regular claim if you meet the eligibility requirements.

The duration of these federal benefits programs was determined by Congress, and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) set the expiration date of September 6, 2021. Hawaii does not have the power to extend the benefits past the expiration date. ARPA provides the funding to pay out these benefits, so even if a claimant has an available balance, those federal funds will no longer be available.

By law, we cannot pay partial weeks, so the week ending Saturday, September 4, 2021, is the final week for which the federal program benefits can be paid.  (Note:  if your claim filing ends on Sunday, the week ending September 5, 2021 will be your final week of benefits.)

If an eligible claimant is owed back weeks from these federal programs, those weeks may still be paid after September 6, 2021, upon determination of eligibility or any other pending investigations.

Yes. Claimants on regular UI claims will still receive their standard weekly benefits, but the $300 FPUC supplement will end.

No. Once the federal programs end, only the regular Unemployment Insurance program will be available. If new benefits programs become available, we will update our website (link to UI website).