Claiming Benefits for Unemployment in Hawaii
The unemployment benefits claim week begins on Sunday and runs through the following Saturday. When you claim unemployment benefits in HI, request your benefits on the first Sunday after you submit your new or reactivated claim, and each week thereafter while you are eligible. Once you file a new or re-opened unemployment benefits claim in Hawaii, you must certify weekly or biweekly to request unemployment insurance payments. Your confirmation page or email confirmation will have a link to download your weekly/biweekly schedule.
Note: If you do not claim unemployment benefits for two or more consecutive weeks, you must reactivate your claim to resume filing (though an exception exists for partial claims). Unemployment insurance claims are only considered properly filed if they are submitted after reactivation. Any prior weeks may be denied.
Calculating Your Unemployment Benefits Claim Amount in Hawaii
Your weekly Hawaii unemployment benefits claim amount is calculated using your reported earnings in what is referred to as the base period. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. If you are claiming benefits for unemployment using the alternate base period, it would consist of the last four completed quarters.
As an example, if you file an unemployment benefits claim on April 6, 2016, you cannot claim the second quarter of 2016, because it is not yet completed. The last five completed quarters would be the first quarter of 2016 and all four quarters of 2015. The regulation states that the base period is the first four quarters of the last five completed calendar quarters. Therefore, the base period for someone claiming benefits for unemployment on April 6, 2016 is all four quarters of 2015. The alternate base period for someone filing on April 6, 2016 is April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016, which represent the last four calendar quarters.
The next step is to take the highest quarter of wages in your base period and divide that amount by 21, provided the result does not exceed the maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA) for the calendar year. Additionally, your maximum benefit amount is the total amount of benefits that you can receive during your benefit year (26 multiplied by your WBA). Finally, the minimum weekly benefit amount is set by law at $5 per week.
Regarding how many weeks you can claim unemployment benefits in Hawaii, your claim is good for one year from the effective date of submission. However, during the one-year period that your unemployment benefits claim is effective, you can only be paid for 26 weeks of UI.
Filing for Weekly Benefit Payments in Hawaii
Concerning the process for how to claim unemployment benefits on a weekly basis, you simply certify for the past week every time. The HI unemployment benefits claim must be filed within seven days from the end of the certification period, or benefits may be delayed for late filing. For example, if you are filing for federal unemployment benefits for the one-week period ending on Saturday, August 23 (week began on Sunday, August 17), you have seven days, August 24 to August 30, to file your claim certification. On the other hand, when you are filing biweekly, you must certify for the prior two weeks instead. The claim must be filed within seven days from the end of the two-week period, or benefits may be denied for late filing. Furthermore, when you file for a biweekly period, you must file for each week separately.
You can receive your first federal unemployment benefits check in about three weeks after you claim unemployment benefits in Hawaii if certifications are filed in a timely manner, if all eligibility requirements are met, and if no disqualification is in effect. Any situations that raise conflicts with the law will delay payment, pending an investigation.
You can file courtesy unemployment benefits claim certifications online for two consecutive weeks if you go out of state to look for work. However, you must transfer your claim if you are permanently relocating or staying more than two weeks.
As soon as you return to work, report your employment, including your hours worked and gross earnings for the week (even if not paid yet) on your next claim certification. If you earn less than your WBA during the week that you return to work (provided you did not work full-time hours), your unemployment insurance payment will be your WBA minus any gross earnings you received that exceed $150.
Federal Unemployment Benefits and Income Taxes in Hawaii
Unemployment benefits and unemployment benefits extensions are taxable if they are sufficient in amount (either separate or combined with your other income). These benefits will be listed on Form 1099-G, which is mailed to all beneficiaries in January. You may elect to have federal taxes withheld at a set rate of 10 percent, and Hawaii state taxes withheld at a rate of five percent, to avoid paying later.
Note: As no adjustments are made for repayments on overpaid benefits, you need to keep the receipt of any repayment for tax return purposes.