Coronavirus Individual Resources

Last Updated July 1 2020

Update on Direct Payments:

The IRS has established a phone line to answer questions about your Economic Impact Payments (EIP). You can reach them toll free at 1-800-919-9835.

If you have questions about your EIP, please use this resource to get answers from the IRS or contact my office with any concerns or issues. For any further questions, please follow the link here.

Updated April 16 2020.

The CARES Act expands who is eligible to receive UI. The State of Hawaii is working to update its resources to reflect that new law, which allows part-time workers, “gig” workers, and others to qualify for UI.

To file for UI, visit the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) website to learn about the various options available to you.

The State of Hawaii, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) offers two phone numbers to help process unemployment claims.

The phone numbers will be available weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The following phone numbers are for resetting passwords and making appointments for over-the-phone applications:

  • Password reset: (808) 762-5751
  • Phone appointments: (808) 762-5752
  • Applicants can also apply online 24/7 here

The local unemployment offices is temporarily closed to walk-in and in-person services.

DLIR is experiencing a high volume of new applications and is working to continue to expand capacity and ensure benefits are accessible to all who need them. Applicants should continue trying to submit via the web form or via the phone.

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.

To access information about contacting DLIR regarding backdating your claim, requesting language assistance, or to inquire about a message saying you have been disqualified, see contact information here.

For guidance and assistance in determining whether you are eligible, please refer to the DLIR’s Eligibility Fact Sheet.

The DLIR has published answers to frequently asked questions, found here, including a video on how to file an unemployment claim, which can be viewed here.

Updated April 14 2020.

The U.S. federal government funds two major nutrition assistance programs that are operated by state and local partners: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The coronavirus response legislation passed by Congress in the past few months have included provisions to expand access and give states additional flexibility in administering the programs.

Federal Programs:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program 

First time applicants can use this form to apply for benefits. Once completed and signed, the form can be 1) mailed or dropped off at a processing center drop box (locations found here), or 2) if the applicant is able to scan or take a photo of the application, it can be sent as an attachment to BESSD.StatewideBranch@dhs.hawaii.gov.

Current SNAP recipients with six-month reviews or eligibility reviews during March, April, and May have been granted a six-month extension in benefits to ensure no lapse and should receive information on this in the mail. 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.

Special Supplemental Program

Hawaii has received a waiver from the USDA that allows WIC applicants to receive support and services without requiring the applicant’s physical presence. Possible 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.

Social Distancing Guidelines and WIC

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.

Please follow the link here to access the Hawaii Department of Health site on WIC.

Nutritional Assistance for Seniors: 

Senior Nutrition Programs

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act both provided additional funding for nutritional assistance programs for seniors.

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. 

Meals on Wheels

Hawaii Meals on Wheels has begun 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 July 1 2020.

Earlier this year, Congress approved direct payments to help individuals and families deal with the COVID-19 outbreak during this difficult time. Payments continue to be distributed, but individuals and families with questions are encouraged to visit the IRS’s website for more information about whether they are eligible for these payments and how to receive them here. More information is also available online here. Additionally, the IRS continues to provide updated information about payment eligibility, payment status, how to access payments, how to provide bank account information, error messages, and address changes online here.

Most eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns should have automatically received their payments. However, certain individuals who are eligible for payments but not required to file returns, including lower income taxpayers (individuals whose incomes did not exceed $12,200 in 2019, or $24,400 for married couples) can submit their payment information online here.

Individuals who receive Social Security income (i.e. retiree or disability beneficiaries), Veterans Affairs benefits, or Supplemental Security Income benefits (besides those with children) do not need to submit their payment information online, and should have automatically received these payments. However, eligible individuals who have not yet received their additional payments for qualifying dependent children may receive those payments later this summer.

Individuals are encouraged to visit the IRS website or contact my office for additional information. More information about how to track payments is available here.

Updated June 23 2020.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) established two new provisions – the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act – that provide additional paid leave options for workers and financial relief for employers. The recently enacted CARES Act included provisions that modified the programs further. The following provides the most up-to-date information on these programs.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

Under the new law, private employers with less  than 500 employees are required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for full time employees. Part-time employees are also eligible, and their hours will be calculated against the time they regularly work. Employers are reimbursed for the cost of providing paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19. . Workers are provided paid leave to tend to their health and the health and safety of their loved ones.

Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

Congress also expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to allow for up to 10 weeks of FMLA leave to care for children whose schools are closed due to COVID-19.

Both provisions are temporary and only available through December 31, 2020, and applicability and rate of pay can vary depending on a number of factors. Employers and employees should consult the U.S. Department of Labor’s website for accurate, up to date information and guidance:  

Additional information for employers about these programs can be found here;

Additional Information for workers can be found here.

For answers to frequently asked questions, please click here.

The Department of Labor now has an online tool to help workers determine their eligibility for paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave, available here.

 

Updated July 1 2020.

Congress has enacted a number of financial relief initiatives to help Americans remain financially solvent during this public health emergency. Please see below for more information on loan forbearance, eviction moratoriums, and extended tax deadlines.

Direct Payments for Individuals and Families:

Congress has approved direct payments to help individuals and families deal with the COVID-19 outbreak during this difficult time. Payments continue to be distributed, but individuals and families with questions are encouraged to visit the IRS’s website for more information about whether they are eligible for these payments and how to receive them here. More information is also available online hereAdditionally, the IRS continues to provide updated information about payment eligibility, payment status, how to access payments, how to provide bank account information, error messages, and address changes online here

SSI, VA, Social Security Beneficiaries:

Most eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 should have automatically received their payments. However, certain individuals who are eligible for payments but not required to file returns, including lower income taxpayers (individuals whose incomes did not exceed $12,200 in 2019, or $24,400 for married couples) can submit their payment information online here.

Individuals who receive Social Security income (i.e. retiree or disability beneficiaries), Veterans Affairs beneficiaries, and Supplemental Security Income recipients do not need to submit their payment information online, and should automatically receive these payments. More information about how to track payments is available here.

Note: Those without internet access are encouraged to contact my office for assistance.

Homeowners:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress recently 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.

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

Student Borrowers:  

Loan forbearance is also available for student borrowers. More information is available on the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Federal Student Aid (FSA) website here. Additional information about available assistance can also be found on CFPB’s website here.

Renters:

The CARES Act also put in place protections for renters in federally-supported housing by putting in place a moratorium on evictions for up to 120 days beginning on March 27, 2020. In addition, landlords in federally-supported housing can seek loan forbearance in order to ease the burden of rent payments.

If you are a renter or homeowner with questions, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii has produced a frequently asked questions (FAQ) website with answers to questions about the CARES Act’s provisions, as well as specific policies put in place by Hawaii State and local government. You can learn more about the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and the services they provide to renters, homeowners, and consumers on their website at: https://www.legalaidhawaii.org/

Credit Reporting: 

Borrowers concerned about their ability to pay their loans are encouraged to contact their lenders during this time. More information is available online here.

Extensions for Filing and Paying Federal and State Income Taxes 

Federal:

The U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would be extending the deadline to file federal taxes by three months: the deadlines to file and pay federal income taxes is now July 15, 2020. More information can be found online here. You can also read more online here.

State of Hawaii:

Following Treasury’s announcement, the Hawaii State Department of Taxation announced that it would be extending the deadline to file and pay state income taxes to July 20, 2020, three months past the original April 20, 2020 deadline. More information can be found online 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 July 1 2020.

Earlier this year Congress created an Education Stabilization Fund and allocated approximately $30 billion in relief for education programs and activities. Within this fund, Congress provided around $14 billion for a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), $13 billion for an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and $3 billion for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.

College students impacted by the coronavirus may be eligible for assistance through the HEERF. Students can find more information about whether they are eligible for assistance online here.

University of Hawaii (UH): UH recently released updated guidance for reopening schools. You can find information about the guidance here.

General information is available on the University’s website, here.

Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE): HIDOE has also released updated guidance for reopening schools You can find information about the guidance here.

General information is available on the Department’s website, here.

Separately, HIDOE students with health-related questions can call HIDOE’s hotline. More information is available here.

Free “Grab-and-Go” Meals for Children: HIDOE’s Grab-and-Go meal program has been extended through the summer. More information about the program is available 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 Guides:

Recently enacted federal legislation provides resources and initiatives to assist individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The guides below provide summary information about major provisions that could offer critical support.

College Students Guide