Coronavirus Individual Resources

Updated March 19 2021.

The CARES Act expanded unemployment benefits and programs, and subsequent legislation has extended these programs. Most recently, the American Recovery Plan Act extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for gig workers and independent contractors, provided additional weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and an additional $300 per week benefit through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). These programs now run through September 6, 2021.

The American Recovery Plan Act also provided more flexibility for workers who have been offered an opportunity to go back to work, but feel unsafe doing so due to lack of employer or state protections. Additionally, the American Recovery Plan Act provided a federal income tax exclusion on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 for households earning less than $150,000. Please see guidance from the Internal Revenue Service regarding this provision and filing your taxes here. For more information regarding 1099-G forms in Hawaii, see guidance from the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations here.

Eligibility:

Each state determines their specific eligibility criteria for unemployment benefits. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii has altered and broadened eligibility. The Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) has compiled a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that outlines scenarios under which a worker may or may not qualify for benefits, available here.

How to Apply:

To file for UI, visit DLIR’s website, which provides step-by-step guides for determining eligibility and filing your claim.

If you would prefer to speak to someone by phone, DLIR offers two call center phone numbers to help process unemployment claims and questions. The phone lines will be available Monday through Friday, from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

(833)-901-2272 or (808)-762-5751

(833)-901-2275 or (808)-762-5752

DLIR continues to experience a high volume of new applications and is working to continue to expand capacity and ensure benefits are accessible to all who need them. Local unemployment offices are temporarily closed to walk-in and in-person services, and applicants should continue trying to submit via the web form or via the phone.

Additional Information:

If you have already successfully filed a claim and would like to check the status of that claim, you can use this tool.

If your claim is denied and you wish to file an appeal, it can be filed online here or you can contact the call center.

 

Updated March 19 2021.

Previous COVID-19 response legislation strengthened our food supply chain, and helped families in need put food on the table. The American Rescue Plan built on those efforts by providing $12 billion to hungry families in need through important nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC, Pandemic EBT, and senior nutrition services. The Plan extended the current 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through September 2021, funds fruits and vegetable outreach and innovation in WIC, and ensures the Pandemic-EBT program will be available for the duration of the pandemic, including over the summer while children are out of school.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):

SNAP benefits have received an emergency increase of 15 percent for all participants – an average of $27 more per month for each participant. The American Rescue Plan extended this increase through September 30, 2021.

How to Apply:

First time applicants can now apply for benefits online here

If you are unable to apply online, this form, once completed and signed, can be mailed or dropped off at a processing center drop box (locations found here).

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has waived the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) work requirements for SNAP, so applicants do not currently need to re-file applications.

Please follow the link here to access the Hawaii Department of Health site on SNAP for more information.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC):

WIC vouchers for fruits and vegetables are increased to $35 per month for four months under the American Rescue Plan, and Hawaii has received ongoing waivers to allow WIC families to purchase a range of sizes for certain products. To see the list of size options available, see WIC Hawaii’s website.

How to Apply:

In Hawaii, WIC applicants are able to receive support and services without requiring the applicant’s physical presence. Prospective recipients can check for eligibility using this tool, but to officially verify eligibility please contact your local WIC clinic location directly by phone. Contact information can be found here.

Additional Information:

In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, WIC participants are now allowed to receive their benefits remotely. For those who already have an eWIC EBT card, benefits will be loaded automatically. For those still receiving Food Instruments (paper vouchers), benefit offices will be verifying your mailing address and sending vouchers via mail.

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT):

Families with children who are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year are eligible to receive food purchasing assistance. Hawaii Department of Human Services proactively contacted eligible families regarding these benefits for the 2020-2021 school year. On January 22, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased P-EBT benefit amounts by 15%. For more information on P-EBT see the Hawaii Department of Human Services’ website here.

Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: 

The American Rescue Plan provided $750 million for nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act – like Meals on Wheels and congregate feeding programs – and $37 million for food boxes for seniors through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

Eligibility:

To qualify to participate in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, you must be at least 60 years of age and provide documentation showing that they reside in the service area they’re applying for and that their monthly household income is at or below 130% of the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines for the State of Hawaii. For an individual household, the threshold is $1,557.83, and for a two-person household, total income must be at or below $2,108.17.

How To Apply:

You can apply to CSFP through the nonprofit organization that serves your county: 

Hawaii County: The Food Basket – apply here

Maui County: Maui Food Bank – apply here

Kauai County: Hawaii Foodbank – apply here

City & County of Honolulu: Hawaii Foodbank – apply here

Additional Information:

Hawaii’s Executive Office on Aging has put together a comprehensive guide to the services available to seniors and other high-risk populations. The guide can be found here. For additional assistance, contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center at (808) 643-2372. 

Hawaii Meals on Wheels has been delivering to their most vulnerable clients and transitioning other clients to packaged, frozen meals. Updates on the program can be found here. For questions or concerns, contact Meals on Wheels between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Sunday at (808) 988-6747.

Updated March 19 2021.

Congress recently approved another round of direct payments for individuals and families impacted by COVID-19. Individuals earning up to $75,000 should receive $1,400 payments, and couples earning up to $150,000 should receive $2,800—with gradually smaller payments for individuals earning up to $80,000, and couples earning up to $160,000. Separately, families should receive up to $1,400 for each qualifying dependent. Hawaii individuals and families are expected to receive $1.6 billion (642,100 payments).

Learn more about these payments on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) website here. More information is also available here.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns.

You can also contact the IRS at 1-800-919-9835.

Updated March 19 2021.

The American Rescue Plan gives employers the option to continue to access the paid leave tax credits that were included in the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) through September 30, 2021. These paid leave days can also now be used to allow employees to miss work to receive a vaccine or to recover from any vaccine-related side effects, in addition to other COVID-19 related health and family issues that arise.

Eligibility:

Employees who work for employers covered by the FFCRA paid leave provisions qualify to use the leave only if they have been employed for at least 30 days. 

Consult with your employer to determine if these paid leave days are available to you.

The American Rescue Plan provides funding for mortgage, rental, and utility assistance programs in Hawaii, in addition to the funding included in the relief legislation passed at the end of 2020. Previous bills and administrative actions have provided various kinds of support and relief for renters, homeowners, and landlords.

The Department of Hawaiian Homelands; Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Counties; and the City & County of Honolulu have established programs to distribute federal funding for rental, mortgage, and utility assistance.

Apply for assistance through the Department of Hawaiian Homelands here.

To apply for assistance in Maui County, see Maui Economic Opportunity’s website here.

Kauai County’s housing assistance program is anticipated to begin accepting applications the first week of May 2020 on the Kauai Rent Help website here. Residents may also email help@kgefcu.org for assistance with completing their application.

To apply for assistance in the City and County of Honolulu, check the OneOahu website here. Applications are currently paused, but the website will be updated when applications are being accepted again.

Applications for mortgage and rental assistance in Hawaii County open on April 12, 2021 at 8:00 am. To apply, contact one of these county partners:

If you are a renter or homeowner with questions, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii has produced a frequently asked questions (FAQ) website with information on the policies put in place by the federal, Hawaii State, and local government, available here.

Homeowners: The American Rescue Plan provides $9.961 billion for homeowner assistance, administered by state and local governments. This funding is available to those who are experiencing a financial hardship associated with the coronavirus pandemic and whose mortgage is below the conforming loan limit for their county. More information on these programs will become available in the coming weeks.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress approved loan forbearance and related assistance for homeowners with federally-backed mortgages through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If your loan falls into this category, your lender or loan servicer cannot foreclose on you until after June 30, 2021. 

More information about available assistance can be found on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) website here.

Renters: The American Rescue Plan provided $21.6 billion for rental, utility, and other housing assistance. These funds will be administered through state and local governments. More information on these programs will become available in the coming weeks. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued an order temporarily halting residential evictions for nonpayment of rent. Renters seeking this option must complete this declaration and meet certain qualifications. The order has been extended through March 31, 2021. For more information on this order, visit CFPB’s website here

Governor Ige has continued to extend Hawaii’s eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent, which now continues through April 13, 2021. However, if the landlord entered into forbearance on a federally-backed loan, the landlord cannot evict tenants for any reason during the forbearance, which may extend beyond April 13, 2021. For more details on these specific provisions, see CFPB’s explainer here.

Updated April 16 2020.

Unfortunately, scammers across the globe view coronavirus as an opportunity to prey on consumers of all ages. If you think that you may have been contacted or tricked by a scammer, there are federal and state agencies that you can contact to seek assistance, or simply to find out what’s real and what’s not. Some things to look out for and resources that you can consult are listed below and that the bottom of this page:

  • Hang up on robocalls and don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations, treatments, and home test kits. Currently, there are no approved vaccinations, treatments, or home test kits for coronavirus. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the coronavirus, either online or in stores.
  • Fact-check information. Scammers—and sometimes well-meaning people—share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
  • Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone. Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sitesDon’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

Additional Resources and Where to Report a Scam:

Federal Agencies:

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC is one of the primary federal agencies charged with protecting consumers and preserving fair economic competition. The agency has legal authority to prevent anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices. Visit ftc.gov/complaint to file a complaint. For additional information about the FTC’s work, please click the link here.
  • National Center for Disaster FraudThe NCDF is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division that helps to detect, prevent, investigate, and prosecute criminal conduct in disaster situations. NCDF staff take information about complaints of fraud related to disasters, including COVID-19, and refer it to the appropriate law enforcement officials: 1-866-720-5721; disaster@leo.gov
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC): The FCC regulates radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable communications in all 50 states. Complaints in these areas can be filed with the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center. Contact information and online complaint submission is available at here; additional information available at here.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA protects public health by regulating the safety of food, human and veterinary medications, medical devices like COVID-19 tests, and other related areas. You can learn more about the FDA’s efforts to protect consumers and address fraudulent COVID-19 products here and can find more information about the FDA’s actions related to COVID-19, as well as additional contact information for the agency here.

Hawaii State Agencies:

  • Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA)In addition to regulating and issuing licenses for a variety of industries in Hawaii, DCCA investigates complaints of fraudulent and unfair business practices in Hawaii
  • Hawaii Department of AgricultureThe AG is the chief legal officer and law enforcement officer in the State of Hawaii and is charged with investigating and prosecuting violations of State laws, in addition to other duties. You can learn more about the AG’s role in the COVID-19 response online.

Updated April 16 2020.

Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and wireless carriers have taken steps to support customers who are working/studying from home or may be struggling financially.  Below identifies some of the steps taken by the larger players and those with a significant presence in Hawaii.

One common commitment taken by such companies is agreeing to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge. Those signing the pledge agree to:

  • not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
  • waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
  • open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

Visit the FCC’s website here for more information and to see which companies have signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge.

Updated March 19 2021.

Congress recently approved an additional $130 billion for K-12 schools, $40 billion for colleges and universities, and $40 billion for child care programs. With this funding, programs and schools will receive much needed resources to make necessary improvements to reopen safely for children, students, teachers, principals, and other school personnel. Learn more about these resources below.

K-12 Schools:

Congress approved an additional $130 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF). With this funding, K-12 schools will receive resources to promote social distancing through reduced class sizes and modified classrooms, provide personal protective equipment (PPE), and make other necessary improvements to help reopen safely for students, teachers, principals, and other school personnel. Resources will also be available for activities to address learning loss caused by the pandemic.

Hawaii schools are expected to receive around $412.3 million through the ESSERF.

Learn more and find the latest updates on the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) K-12 relief programs on its website here. You can also find more information about special education programs here.

Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE): HIDOE continues to provide updated information on its website. Find the latest updates here.

Grab-and-Go Meals: Earlier this year, the Biden administration extended flexibility for U.S. Department of Agricultural (USDA) school meal programs that has allowed HIDOE to provide Grab-and-Go meals. More information about Grab-and-Go meals can be found on HIDOE’s website here.

Higher Education:

Congress also approved an additional $40 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Last year, colleges and universities shed 650,000 jobs due to COVID-19. These resources will help schools keep staff and faculty on their payroll and provide students with emergency assistance to address their child care, housing, education and related expenses. 

Hawaii schools should receive around $100.0 million through the HEERF.

Learn more and find the latest updates on ED’s higher education relief programs on its website here.

Loan Forbearance: Earlier this year, the Biden administration extended loan forbearance for federal student loans through September 30, 2021. Between now and then, student borrowers will not have to make loan payments on principal and interest for certain loans, and interest rates will be set to zero.

Recently, Congress clarified that borrowers will not have to pay taxes on this forbearance. You can find more information about loan forbearance on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) website here. Further information is also available on ED’s website here.

Fraud Alert: ED will not ask you for a fee to suspend your payments. If someone asks you for money to process your information, it is likely a scam and you should report them on the Federal Trade Commission’s website here.

Borrowers with federally-backed loans are not eligible for loan forbearance, and should contact their loan servicers for questions about their loans. You can find your loan servicer here.

Emergency Assistance for Students: College students may be eligible for emergency assistance (financial aid) through their schools to cover child care, housing, education, and related expenses. More information will be available in the coming weeks. 

University of Hawaii (UH): UH continues to provide updated information on its website. Find the latest updates here.

Updated April 16 2020.

U.S. citizens overseas are encouraged to immediately enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) via step.state.gov to receive important and timely updates from the U.S. Embassy in the country where they are located.

For assistance abroad, United States citizens should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate via:

  • www.usembassy.gov.
  • 24 Hour Consular Affairs Worldwide Emergency Line:
    • +1 (888) 407-4747 (United States and Canada)
    • +1 (202) 501-4444 (Overseas)

For more information, visit the U.S. State Department’s website, What the State Department Can and Can't Do in a Crisis.

Resource Pages:

As we continue to take the difficult, but necessary steps to confront the spread of COVID-19, Congress has passed meaningful relief for affected families and businesses. The American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, provides billions of dollars in aid for Hawaii's families and communities.

 Individuals Page

 Children & Families Page

 Seniors Page

 Students Page

 Veterans Page