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Advice for Hawaii’s Lagging Unemployment Claims

Candice Wong, Director of Benefits Services, at her remote desk

It has been a difficult four months for our Unemployment Team as we have worked to assist thousands of employees who are seeking unemployment benefits impacted by COVID-19. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t imagine how we would feel if we too were trapped in the same cycle of confusion and frustration that so many claimants have been in.

In the July 1, 2020 update from Hawaii News Now there are still 11,000 claims waiting to be processed. Gov. David Ige’s statement explaining that “We are really down to those who have not received compensation, it’s the most complex cases” is true.

The reality is that the State does not have the volume of trained professionals to support the sheer amount of complex cases that remain. By this stage, if claimants have not received decisions it is either because their original claim was completed incorrectly/late or because the State needs to collect additional information to render a decision on benefits. Employees contact us for help and, at this point, there is very little we can do for them because they need to get in contact with the State to review their claim status. This is where continued patience is necessary. Getting in contact with the State by phone is likely going to require numerous attempts and a claimant should prepare for up to an hour in a hold queue to speak with someone. At this point one should be prepared with their documentation to iron out where the lapse in the process is holding up the claim.

As every private and public office is working to respond during this crisis, we hope that the State of Hawaii continues to  learn from these experiences and make the necessary changes in technology to improve the unemployment system for the long term. If you are a client of simplicityHR with an outstanding claim, please feel free to reach out to our Benefits Department for further support and guidance.

Candice Wong is Director of Benefit Services at simplicityHR by ALTRES

Have a question for one of our HR experts? To learn more about this issue or to schedule a free consultation on the advantages of human resources outsourcing, contact simplicityHR.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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