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Hawaii Unemployment Benefits

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The Hawaii unemployment compensation (UC) program provides temporary financial assistance to local workers who have recently lost their jobs. This program is also referred to as unemployment insurance (UI), and these terms may be used interchangeably. When enrollees claim unemployment benefits, they can use UI funds to support themselves while searching for new jobs. In Hawaii, it is the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) that is responsible for maintaining this program.

In addition to explaining how to apply for unemployment online, the sections below will address eligibility requirements and where petitioners can find their UI applications. Furthermore, the subsequent portions will outline the documents need during an application and how workers can prepare for UI interviews.

What is unemployment in Hawaii?

Hawaii unemployment is a public program that workers in the state can apply for after being let go by employers. An unemployment claim is valid for one year, and during that time, applicants may receive up to 26 weeks of benefits. Furthermore, successful enrollees will receive a minimum of at least $5 for each week they are enrolled in the program. This minimum payment is referred to as the weekly benefit amount (WBA). However, many applicants earn more than this total.

In general, unemployment insurance provides enrollees and their families with critical financial support during periods of unemployment. However, petitioners must remember that this program is not a long-term solution to being without a job. As a result, UI benefits enrollees must proactively search for work during the time when they are unemployed. In addition, the DLIR requires applicants to actively search for jobs during enrollment.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Hawaii?

Eligibility for unemployment in Hawaii examines different aspects of a claimant’s personal history and professional background. The DLIR uses this information to determine if the applicant may enroll in UC. These areas include:

  • Current unemployment Applicants must be presently unemployed. Similarly, candidates who are working fewer hours than normal and did not request this schedule change may be eligible for UI.
  • Work availability – Petitioners must be ready, able and willing to work. Candidates who are unable to work because they have conflicting school schedules, no transportation or inadequate child care options will be ineligible to receive UC benefits.
  • Job search – A week after applying for UC, claimants must register with the job matching system from the state’s Workforce Development Division.

Furthermore, the DLIR assesses unemployment insurance eligibility by examining how much money petitioners made in past calendar quarters. In order to meet the financial qualifications for unemployment in HI, petitioners must have earned income during two or more calendar quarters in their base periods. In addition, claimants must have earned income throughout their base periods that total at least 26 times their WBAs. In addition, the DLIR uses the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters as a candidate’s base period. Thus, the DLIR does not use the calendar quarter that petitioners apply in.

When determining who qualifies for UC, there are restrictions on which specific workers may apply. For example, teachers and other educational employees are not able to enroll in UI during school breaks. Similarly, professional athletes may not file claims while in between sports seasons, even if they are not presently working. However, military personnel and applicants who worked for the federal government within the past 18 months are eligible to apply.

How can I sign up for unemployment in Hawaii?

Petitioners wondering how to apply for unemployment online in Hawaii can take advantage of how quick and simple it is to complete an online application. In order to fill out the online application for unemployment, claimants must provide the following information:

  • Identification numbers – U.S. citizen applicants must include their Social Security Numbers (SSNs). On the other hand, non-citizens will need to include their Alien Registration Numbers.
  • Employment history – The DLIR requires petitioners to submit their employment history for the past 18 months. Candidates must include their employer’s name, address and phone number. Similarly, petitioners must report the reasons why they are no longer employed at these establishments, as well as the dates they worked there.
  • Bank account information – The DLIR distributes UI benefits via direct deposit. Therefore, petitioners must include their bank account and routing numbers on their applications.
  • Specific documentation – Candidates who were formerly active duty military members must submit their DD-214 member 4 copy. Similarly, claimants who were federal employees must submit their SF8, SF50 or pay stubs.

How do I prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Hawaii?

Petitioners may need to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview after they submit their claims. These interviews are necessary whenever the DLIR notices any potential issues relating to the claimant’s application. Furthermore, there are two common scenarios that require the DLIR to conduct these conversations. The first relates to incomplete or unclear information. The DLIR may request a Hawaii unemployment phone interview with the petitioner if he or she does not answer part of the application correctly. The questions asked during unemployment interview of this nature are straightforward. As a result, these conversations usually end quickly.

The DLIR may request an unemployment interview with employer and claimant when there is a discrepancy between their statements. This second scenario is more complex, and it usually requires the DLIR to conduct more in-depth interviews. Common issues relate to why the petitioner is currently unemployed. During this UC phone interview, the DLIR’s goal is to determine why the claimant was terminated at his or her previous position. Therefore, questions will be more detailed.

In either scenario, both parties may wonder how to pass the UI interview. However, claimants and their former employers must remember these conversations are holistic. This means that the interviews alone do not determine the DLIR’s decisions. Therefore, petitioners and supervisors must not view these conversations as challenges to pass or fail. Instead, they should focus on providing as detailed and accurate information as possible.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in Hawaii?

In order to claim unemployment benefits in Hawaii, petitioners must first receive an acceptance notice from the DLIR. In addition, after petitions are approved, enrollees must ensure that they continue to meet the requirements to receive UC benefits. One of the most important tasks beneficiaries must complete to maintain an unemployment benefits claim is their certification process. Candidates who are claiming benefits for unemployment must file certifications on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Recipients must complete this task online. In these claim certifications, beneficiaries must report any income they received during the week they’re claiming. In addition, enrollees must consistently complete the following tasks in order to claim UI benefits:

  • Work registration – Beneficiaries must register for work with the HI Workforce Development Division (WDD). Furthermore, petitioners must participate in the WDD’s reemployment services, if selected.
  • Employment contacts – Enrollees must contact three or more potential employers regarding jobs during each week they receive UC benefits. Then, they must record the prospective employer’s information on Form UC-253, also known as the Record of Contacts Made for Work. Upon request, enrollees must share this information with the DLIR.
  • Periodic interviews – Recipients may need to participate in an Eligibility Review Interview (ERI) or Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA). If requested by the state, enrollees must participate in these interviews in order to receive UI stipends. These conversations are designed to help beneficiaries improve their job search.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment benefits in Hawaii?

When petitioners are denied unemployment in Hawaii, they receive a Notice of Decision on Unemployment Insurance Claim in the mail. However, claimants or employers who disagree with the state’s decision have the right to appeal. They must file these appeals within 10 calendar days from when the DLIR mailed the original determination. Both parties must send their unemployment denial appeal to the Employment Security Appeals Referees’ Office (ESARO). Petitioners may submit their appeals either online or by mailing their requests to the ESARO. On the other hand, applicants who are denied unemployment benefits may also submit appeals to the local claims office.

When submitting a denied unemployment benefits appeal, applicants must attach a copy of their Notice of Decision on Unemployment Insurance Claim. Once ESARO receives the appeal, it will establish a hearing date with an appeals officer. In most cases, the hearing will be scheduled between 21 and 27 days after the appeal is filed. During this time, all relevant parties will receive notice for when and where the hearing will take place. However, the ESARO can also conduct hearings over the phone.

During the UC denial appeal hearing, claimants and their employers may have witnesses testify on their behalves. Similarly, both parties may have legal representation. However, this is not required. Furthermore, candidates must remember that the UI appeal hearing is recorded. While the original determination is on the hearing record, the officer will hear the case from the beginning. He or she is not bound to agreeing with the case’s original determination.

After the unemployment denial appeal hearing concludes, the officer will issue a written decision to all relevant parties. Afterward, the losing party has 30 days to apply for a reopening of the appeal officer’s decision. On the other hand, the employer or claimant has the right to appeal directly to the circuit court.

How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in Hawaii?

U.S. Congress may approve a Hawaii unemployment benefits extension when there is an atypical amount of unemployed workers in the state. This falls into the category of federal unemployment extension, which legislature may approve on either a national or statewide scale. However, UC beneficiaries must know that an unemployment extension is not common. When offered, this UC extension allows the state to offer additional enrollment weeks to beneficiaries who have already exhausted the program’s 26-week maximum. In order to apply, petitioners must wait until the DLIR has opened the program’s enrollment period. Then, candidates must contact their UC representatives to reopen their claims.

How do I contact the Hawaii unemployment office?

The Hawaii unemployment office is available as a resource to petitioners and enrollees as they navigate the UI program. This department maintains offices throughout the state. In addition to calling the specific telephone number associated with their local unemployment office, petitioners can visit these establishments in person. The DLIR UI office in Honolulu is located at:

830 Punchbowl Street #321

Honolulu, Hawaii 96813



How do I know if I qualify for unemployment in Hawaii?

In order to qualify for unemployment insurance in Hawaii, you must have earned a minimum amount of wages in Hawaii before becoming unemployed. You must also be unemployed by no fault of your own.

How long does it take to receive my unemployment benefits once I qualify?

As soon as the state determines that you eligible for unemployment benefits, it will usually take anywhere from 2 – 3 weeks to receive your money.

What is an interstate claim?

If you need to apply for unemployment insurance in the state of Hawaii but are planning to move to another state (including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Canada), you may still collect your benefits. The state you move to will act as the “agent state” and will process your claim for the state of Hawaii.

Do you have to pay taxes on unemployment benefits in Hawaii?

Yes. In the state of Hawaii, you may choose to withhold 5% state tax and 10% federal tax on your benefits. You can request tax withholdings by logging into your account under “My Account” and “Tax Withholdings”.

Hawaii Unemployment Office Locations


Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations 830 Punchbowl St #321 Honolulu, HI 96813 (808) 586-8844 View Website Unemployement Claim File

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