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Ige, Labor Department Secure Additional Week of Federal Unemployment Benefits

September 3, 2020, 11:04 AM HST
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Unemployment fell statewide and in each county in Hawaii in March while the work force rose to an unprecedented number. File photo.

Hawaiʻi was approved for an additional week of the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program, Gov. David Ige announced this morning.

This funding adds one additional week of a $300 plus-up for various types of unemployment benefits on top of the three weeks initially approved by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Aug. 29.

“This will bring an extra week of relief to many who are still unemployed due to the impact of the coronavirus on our economy. I’m taking this action to maximize all available federal funds to help people in Hawaiʻi who are unemployed because of COVID-19,” Ige said.

Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) is currently working to build a new program within the unemployment computer system to implement and pay LWA benefits, said DLIR Acting Director Anne Eustaquio.

“In conjunction with FEMA and the US Department of Labor concerning program administration, the state will work diligently to complete this process as quickly as possible,” Eustaquio said.

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To qualify for the $300 benefit, recipients must be eligible for at least $100 in weekly benefit and must certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Payments would be retroactive to Aug. 1, 2020. Claimants will be notified by email and through a news release on how and when to file their self-certification.

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Unlike the FPUC program that ended in July, LWA is a grant with a finite amount of funding. When FEMA exhausts its grant funding, it will no longer have the resources to provide LWA payments and the program will end. If the federal program does not exhaust the LWA grant funding, payments will end on Dec. 26, 2020.

The State of Hawaiʻi is not allowed to use CARES Act or any local funds to supplement those individuals with a weekly benefit amount of less than $100 to make them eligible for the program pursuant to the Presidential Memorandum.

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, with assistance from the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency pursued this additional week of funds to assist the many who are struggling.

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