Some of us were laid off in the first weeks of the pandemic crisis because our sector was effected that quickly. Eventually, with the stay-at-home orders, it has effected nearly all of us. And the federal government has an unemployment package that should be helping Hawaii’s residents to make essential payments and purchases, but no one can get it!
That package includes a program that allows benefits for individuals who do not regularly qualify for unemployment. Eligibility, because of the Disaster Unemployment Assistance, has been extended to cover self-employed workers, including gig-workers and independent contractors, part-time workers and those with limited job histories. All of this is funded by the federal government, not the State of Hawaii.
So what’s the hangup?
We can’t apply. We can’t get through on the phone, or through the website – and of course, not at the office, which is closed. All we can do is try day after day.
There are several steps to filing a claim; the first is to create an account, answer their questions and then wait until an email comes confirming your account. Then another email directs the potential recipient to go to the website and file a claim.
For this reporter, there was a two-week delay before that email came.
Then the trouble really begins. To file a claim, one has to get onto the claims page of the website, with a user email and password. That is supposed to take the filer to another page where to file their claim. But instead –
There is an error message that tells the user that there is an unusually high volume of users and they should try again later. Well, this reporter has tried unsuccessfully over 250 times and over a week.
Yesterday, the website no longer recognized the user name and password.
But to reset the password, one has to get into the site. The website bounces the user out with the same message, system overload. When attempting to reset, this user was directed to set up a new account – but it bounces back with the message that the user already has an account.
Funny. We know that. But we still cannot access our accounts.
Call, and there is a busy signal, with over 160 attempts to the Oahu claims line – 808-586-8970. The same is true with the password reset line, 833-901-2272. Busy.
The Star Advertiser reported that DLIR Director Scott Murakami hired 76 new people and started a new call center; and that there are 207,126 new filings, with the rate of filings beginning to drop fro their apex. He also said that he cannot say when people are going to receive that extra $600 – that could make all the difference in the world – because they can’t figure out how to automate it.
This is a disaster. How can the state recover if the most basic safety net is broken. Shame on you at DLIR and shame on Gov. Ige and all the other people who are making a very bad situation so much worse.