LIST: Here are your questions for the state unemployment office, answered

Published: Apr. 29, 2020 at 4:14 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Labor Department is scrambling to process tens of thousands of unemployment claims as the islands remain shut down.

Some 222,000 unique applications had been filed.

Through April 24, more than $116.5 million has been paid out. That compares to $15.6 million for all of March.

While many are receiving their benefits, thousands more still haven’t. So Hawaii News Now sat down with the state Labor Department to get the answers to questions most commonly asked by viewers:

  • People are complaining that the online portal says money has been deposited into their account, but the money isn’t showing up in their bank. Why?

It takes three business days to do a direct deposit transaction.

  • How many people have filed for unemployment?

The state has received nearly 310,000 filings, but 221,731 of those are unique. The rest are duplicates.

  • How many people have had their claims processed?

As of Monday, the state puts that figure at 181,846.

  • How many people have been denied?

That figure, again as of Monday, is 28,126.

  • The website was giving an error message over the weekend. Do you know why?

“We’re unaware of an error message,” the state said, adding that the site was available if busy.

  • Is there some other vendor that improve the computer systems you use?

“We are working with Idaho to migrate and populate a copy of their program with our mainframe data, the target date to begin the process of the 2.0 version was July 31, but unfortunately COVID-19 hit.”

The state has said that its computer system for handling claims is at least two decades old and not meant to handle the volume of claims it’s currently seeing. It’s worked to improve the system with patches.

  • Will website filing be expanded to 24 hours a day?

The application via the webform and the claim status portal are available around the clock. The state, meanwhile, says it’s working on standing up another portal for certifications.

Right now, people can only file an initial claim online or a certification from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. That’s because the mainframe has to be available.

The state says it has to take the mainframe offline overnight so that it can be backed up.

  • Can online chat or texting be made available?

There are no plans to do that at this time.

  • Is there an email address for general questions?

For general questions, you should call or check out the Labor Department’s FAQs by clicking here.

  • What number should I call?

The main number to call the unemployment office for help is: 833-901-2275.

For password resent, call (833) 901-2272

For phone appointments, call 833) 901-2275

There’s now a queue system so you won’t get a busy signal of you’re in the queue. But if the queue is also full, you may get a busy signal. The state is working to instead provide a message about call volume.

  • How is the state stepping up to handle claims more quickly?

The Labor Department is training more people to handle claims, and is also adding its call center capacity.

  • Which websites should laid off workers go to?

To file a claim, click here.

To check the status of your application, click here.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.