Benefits for Hawaii’s unemployed cut by more than half after Congress fails to act

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Updated: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:43 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits from the federal government ends Friday, and negotiations will continue through the weekend.

But with the loss of the so-called “plus up,” most Hawaii residents still out of work will see their next checks cut by more than half, state Labor deputy Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio said.

“Our maximum weekly (state) benefit a month is $648 a week, that’s our max. So an additional $600 is almost as much as our maximum weekly benefit amount,” said Perreira-Eustaquio.

If Congress reaches a deal on a new unemployment benefits package, state labor officials say they hope it’s a flat amount across the board.

They say calculating a percentage based on everyone’s wages would delay payments.

Meanwhile, the PUA program for independent contractors or freelancers who have lost work runs until the end of the year.

Due to rampant fraud, the state is still withholding payments on about 18,000 claims.

"Those people who have been confirmed, we have made payments," said Gov. David Ige. "Claims that are still in process is because we suspect fraud."

Wedding photographer Megan Moura says her claim has been pending for the last seven weeks.

"It's really hurtful because I know I'm not a fraud, and I'm still pending," Moura said.

Moura says she’s submitted all her information and documentation to the labor department―twice.

“Now we’re just kind of freaking out, are we not going to get our money now? I’m definitely hoping that my PUA claims get processed sooner than later,” said Moura.

“Savings is not going to last forever.”

Perreira-Eustaquio says they processed almost 4,000 PUA claims on Thursday night, and they say they are working hard to weed out the crooks.

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