Guide to Hawaii (HI) Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Calendar Icon Updated February 26, 2019
Unemployment

 

Introduction

In Hawaii, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program is administered by the UI Division of the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.  It  provides temporary financial support to qualified workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and meet all eligibility requirements.

Employers pay all UI costs through a tax on their payrolls or on a reimbursable basis. Workers do not contribute to the UI program.

The state also operates several Workforce Development Division (WDD) Offices and One-Stop Centers throughout the islands to assist job seekers with a variety of services such as job training, resume and interview preparation, labor market analysis and other related forms of assistance.

How unemployment benefits work in Hawaii

  1. Before you apply, make sure you meet all benefit requirements.  Those requirements include that you must have earned enough wages during your base period, you became unemployed through no fault of your own, that you are willing to accept a suitable job offer, and others.
  2. Apply for unemployment insurance.   After you collect appropriate information, to file an initial application, you can do so online.  If you don’t have access to a computer, you can go to your local claims office to use the computer kiosks or ask for help.
  3. Determine the amount of your benefit.   After you apply, you will receive a determination letter that will confirm that you qualify for benefits and advise you of how much and how long you are eligible.  The maximum duration you can collect benefits is generally 26 weeks.
  4. Know how and when you will be paid.  You will receive your first check during your third week of unemployment.  You can also choose to have payments deposited directly into your checking or savings account.
  5. Conduct an ongoing job search.  You are required to look for full-time work while drawing benefits.  To remain eligible, you must make contact with at least three employers each week and you must register with HireNet Hawaii within 7 days of filing your initial claim.
  6. You can file an appeal if you are denied benefits.  You can request reconsideration or file an appeal to the Employment Security Appeals Referees’ Office (ESARO) within 10 calendar days after a determination or redetermination was mailed to you.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for UI benefits, you must meet several eligibility requirements.

  • You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own.  You may collect some benefits if your hours and your pay have been reduced and you earn less that your Weekly Benefit Amount.
  • You must meet monetary qualifications by earning enough wages in your Base Period.
  • You must file an application to establish a UI claim.  It becomes effective the week that you file, not the week that you became unemployed, so filing in a timely manner is essential to receiving benefits as soon as possible.
  • You must file claim certifications on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to request benefit payments.  You will only be paid for those weeks that you file, and you cannot collect benefits retroactively.
  • You must conduct an ongoing search for full-time work for every week that you file for UI benefits.  This includes making three or more work search contacts every week. Keep a record of all your work search contacts on Form UC-253, “Record of Contacts Made for Work,” and submit when requested.
  • You must be physically and mentally ready, willing and able to go back to work.  You may not use childcare or transportation issues as an excuse.  If you become ill/disabled after filing an application for UI benefits, a medical waiver may apply if your condition is certified by a doctor and you do not refuse suitable work because of your illness/disability.
  • You must register for work with the State Workforce Development Division and post an online resume with HireNet Hawaii within 7 calendar days after you apply for initial UI benefits.
  • Registration for work with WDD may be waived for some union members or if you are partially unemployed. Your union must complete Form UC-226, “Verification of Registration with a Referring Union” and it must be submitted to your local claims office.
  • If you are selected, it is mandatory that you participate in Reemployment Services where you will go through orientation, assessment, job placement, or other similar services.
  • You must notify your local claims office of any changes in your availability for work such as loss of child care, going to school, taking a trip, illness, performing self-employment, etc. Changes in your availability for work may affect your eligibility to benefits.
  • Members in good standing of referring unions must be on the union’s out-of-work list and comply with all union reporting requirements. You must notify the local claims office if: 1) you refuse work referrals, 2) the union will not refer you to jobs, or 3) you otherwise change your union status in which case you may be required to register for work with WDD.
  • You must serve a one-week waiting period which is the first week of your initial claim.  You must still file a claim for benefits, even though you will not be paid for this week.
  • You must report for required interviews if you are contacted by WDD.  You must also respond to telephone calls promptly by WDD who may seek information regarding your claim.  Failure to respond may affect payment of your benefits.
  • You may be selected to go through a Quality Control Audit.  Participants are selected at random for an intensive review of job separations, current and past eligibility status, wages used to establish your claim, and any determinations rendered. The job contacts listed on your claim certifications will be personally verified.

Reasons why you may be disqualified from receiving benefits

  • You voluntarily quit your job or you were let go for misconduct.  Your employer will need to show evidence of misconduct related to your work
  • You did not accept suitable work without good cause.  If you refuse suitable work, you must be able to document why you had compelling reasons to do so.
  • You are not available for work.  If you are not physically able to go to work, or you have childcare or transportation issues that keep you from accepting work, you may be denied benefits.
  • If there is a labor dispute in your workplace that directly affects you, payment of UI benefits will depend on whether or not there is evidence of work stoppage.
  • You may not collect UI benefits from more than one state at a time.
  • You knowingly make false statements about your claim or your work situation.  Committing fraud will result in a two-year disqualification and repayment of all overpaid UI benefits plus a 15% penalty. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, you may also be subject to criminal prosecution.

How do I apply for benefits?

Before you apply

You will need to gather several pieces of information to complete your application:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Permanent mailing address
  • Valid telephone number
  • Valid email address
  • Contact information for employers you have worked for during the past 18 months
  • Amount of wages earned during the past 18 months
  • Additional pieces of information may be required depending on your specific claim application.

To file an initial application

To file an initial application, you can do so online.  If this is the first time you are accessing the WDD website, you will need to create a personal account.  Your claim is effective from the week that you file and from when you became unemployed.

If you do not have Internet access or need assistance, go to your local claims office to use the computer kiosks or ask for help.

You can file a new claim or reactivate an expired claim between 6:30 am and 11 pm, HST, Monday through Friday or from 9 am to 11 pm, HST, on weekends and holidays.  You will need to print a confirmation page and download applicable forms to submit to WDD as required.

If you are in another state, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or Canada, file your application online. Do not file an application from anywhere else.

To qualify monetarily, you will need to have earned wages for paid and insured work in at least two calendar quarters in your Base Period. Those wages must be least 26 times your weekly benefit amount (WBA) in your base period.

The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters from the effective date of your new application for benefits. Under certain conditions, an alternate base period, consisting of the most recent four completed quarters, may be used.

You can combine out-of-state wages with your Hawaii wages to qualify for a valid claim or to increase your weekly benefit amount if you worked in several states during the 18 months prior to filing your Hawaii claim.

After you file an initial claim you will receive an “Unemployment Determination of Insured Status” form that will detail the wages paid by your employers during your base period, your expected Weekly Benefit Amount and your Maximum Benefit Amount which is the total amount of benefits you can receive during your benefit year, calculated as 26 times your WBA.

If you are declared invalid, you can request a reconsideration of the determination and provide appropriate documentation to substantiate your claim.

Filing weekly or bi-weekly certifications

Once you file a new claim or reactivate an unexpired claim, you must certify weekly or biweekly to request UI payments You can file claim certifications online.

If you do not have Internet connection, go to your local claims office to use the computer kiosks or visit any public library and request to use their Internet computers to access the UI claims filing website.

Unless otherwise specified, a “week” means a calendar week that starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday. A week claimed is referred to by the week ending date or the Saturday of that week.

Your confirmation page or e-mail confirmation will have a link to download your weekly/biweekly filing schedule.

For weekly filing, you certify for the past Sunday to Saturday period. The claim must be filed within seven days from the end of the certification period or benefits may be denied for late filing.

When filing biweekly, you are certifying for the prior two weeks that started on Sunday in the first week and ends on Saturday in the second week. The claim must be filed within seven days from the end of the two-week period or benefits may be denied for late filing.  When you file bi-weekly, you must file separately for each week.

When and how will I be paid?

You will receive your first check in the mail about three weeks after you file your new claim.  To ensure prompt payment you must make sure to file claim certifications in a timely manner, and continue to meet all eligibility requirements.

You can choose to have UI benefits direct deposited into your checking or savings accounts. You can have your UI benefits electronically deposited into your account as long as your financial institution participates in the direct deposit program.  After filing your weekly claims for benefits and having met all the eligibility requirements, payments will generally be available three business days after payment has been posted to your account.

Looking for work while collecting benefits

Part of your eligibility requirements for collecting UI benefits include conducting an ongoing effort to secure full-time work.  This means you must make contact with at least three employers every week and document those efforts.  You will be required to provide that documentation as part of your ongoing claims process.

In addition, within 7 days of filing an initial UI claim application, you will need to register with HireNet Hawaii.

HireNet is the state’s official job placement program administered by the Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

HireNet Hawaii is Hawaii’s most comprehensive job search engine, combining results from many local and national job search websites as well as the Hawaii Department of Labor’s database of job postings.  It provides job seekers and workforce professionals with several services:

  • Create and send resumes and cover letters to employers
  • Assess job skills, set goals, and research training providers
  • Review available jobs and apply online
  • Set up a Virtual Recruiter search agent to automatically review job postings and notify seekers of jobs that match their skills
  • Track job search efforts and resumes sent in a personal profile folder online
  • Determine a budget and plan for training
  • Research regional labor market information, such as salaries
  • Use the email/message center to contact employers and your case manager
  • Employer users will find the following features helpful:
  • Define skills and post job orders to find potential candidates
  • Research labor market information on salaries and economic data
  • Set up a Virtual Recruiter search agent to automatically find candidates within the system that match the job skills of the job order
  • Communicate with job seekers, case managers, training providers, and others within the system email and message center.

What if I am denied benefits?

If you are denied benefits and disagree with the “Notice of Decision on Unemployment Insurance Claim,” you have the right to appeal that decision.  You can request reconsideration or file an appeal to the Employment Security Appeals Referees’ Office (ESARO) within 10 calendar days after the determination or redetermination was mailed to you. The appeal period may be extended to 30 calendar days for good cause by ESARO.

If you file an appeal or request reconsideration, do not stop filing your claim certifications.  You will only be paid for those weeks that you continue to claim benefits.  If your decision is overturned, you could receive all back benefits for those weeks you meet all requirements.

File your appeal online or submit your appeal directly to ESARO.

You can use the appeal form at your local claims office or write your own letter to submit to your local claims office. Be sure to attach a copy of the decision(s) that you disagree with.

Mail or drop off your appeal request to:

ESARO

830 Punchbowl Street, Room 429

Honolulu, HI 96813.

Key terms

Base Period.  This is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters from the effective date of your new application for benefits. Under certain conditions, an Alternate Base Period, consisting of the most recent four completed quarters, may be used.

Benefit Year – the 52-week period starting from the week you filed your initial application.

WBA (Weekly Benefit Amount) – the amount of benefits you will receive per week with an active claim.  It is the highest quarter of wages in your base period divided by 21 provided that it does not exceed the maximum WBA for the calendar year. To find the current maximum WBA go here. to: http://labor.hawaii.gov/ui/news/tax-rate-schedule-and-weekly-benefit-amount/.

MBA (Maximum Benefit Amount) – total amount of benefits you can receive during your benefit year.  It equals 26 x your WBA.

WDD – The State Workforce Development Division.  It oversees reemployment programs to assist workers in finding jobs on the islands.

For more information

Online Unemployment Insurance Claims general information
 

Claims Offices locations and contact information

Honolulu Claims Office

830 Punchbowl Street, Room 110

Honolulu, HI 96813-5080

Ph:(808) 586-8970, Fax:(808) 586-8980

E-mail: dlir.ui.oahu@hawaii.gov

 

Kaneohe Claims Unit

 830 Punchbowl Street, Room 110,

Honolulu, HI 96813-5080

Ph: (808) 586-8970, Fax: (808) 586-8980

E-mail: dlir.ui.oahu@hawaii.gov

 

Waipahu Claims Office

94-275 Mokuola Street, Room 301

Waipahu, HI 96797-3369

Ph: (808) 586-8970, Fax: (808) 586-8980

E-mail: dlir.ui.oahu@hawaii.gov 

 

Hilo Claims Office

1990 Kinoole Street, Room 101

Hilo, HI 96720-5293

Ph: (808) 974-4086, Fax: (808) 974-4085

E-mail: dlir.ui.hilo@hawaii.gov

 

Kona Claims Office

Ashikawa Building

81-990 Halekii Street, Room 2090, P.O. Box 167

Kealakekua, HI 96750-0167

Ph: (808) 322-4822, Fax: (808) 322-4828

E-mail: dlir.ui.kona@hawaii.gov

 

Maui Claims Office

54 South High Street, Room 201

Wailuku, HI 96793-2198

Ph: (808) 984-8400, Fax: (808) 984-8444

E-mail: dlir.ui.maui@hawaii.gov

 

Kauai Claims Office

4370 Kukui Grove Street, Suite 3-214

Lihue, HI 96766

Ph: (808) 274-3043, Fax: (808) 274-3046

E-mail: dlir.ui.kauai@hawaii.gov

 

Liable Interstate Unit

830 Punchbowl Street, Room 110

Honolulu, HI 96813-5080

Ph: (808) 586-8970, Fax: (808) 586-8980

E-mail: dlir.ui.oahu@hawaii.gov 

 

Employment Security Appeals Referees’ Office 

830 Punchbowl Street, Room 429

Honolulu, HI 96813-5080

Ph: (808) 586-8930, Fax: (808) 586-8944

E-mail: dlir.esaro@hawaii.gov 

 

Workforce Development Division (WDD) Offices and One-Stop Centers

Eligibility Team

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