Coronavirus Individual Resources

Last Updated January 7 2021.

Update on Direct Payments:

Congress recently approved a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP). More information is available here. You can also check your EIP payment status 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 January 8 2021.

The CARES Act expands who is eligible to receive UI, and the Coronavirus Relief legislation passed in January extends these programs. 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 call center phone numbers to help process unemployment claims and questions.

The phone numbers 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

Local unemployment offices are 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.

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

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 January 8 2021.

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 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.

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 January 7 2021.

Congress recently approved a second round of direct payments to help individuals and families deal with COVID-19. Most payments will be distributed automatically, and individuals can check their payment status here. More information is also available here.

Updated January 7 2021.

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 recently approved a second round of direct payments to help individuals and families deal with COVID-19. Most payments will be distributed automatically, and individuals can check their payment status here. More information is also available here.

Homeowners:

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.

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

Student Borrowers:  

Federal student loan forbearance has been extended through January 2021. More information can be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s website here, and the CFPB’s website here.

Renters:

On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an order to temporarily halt residential evictions for nonpayment of rent if the renter completes this declaration and meets certain qualifications. The order has been extended through January 31, 2021., For more information on this order, visit CFPB’s website here.

The CARES Act 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. Eviction moratoriums and loan forbearance protections end on various dates, based on the program. The website above also provides details on these protections and their expirations.

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 here.

The State of Hawaii, Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai Counties, and the City and County of Honolulu have all established emergency assistance programs to provide cash aid. See the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii’s website for more information on programs in your county here.

Credit Reporting: 

Borrowers concerned about their ability to pay their loans are encouraged to contact their lenders during this time. More information can be found on the CFPB’s website 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 January 7 2021.

Congress recently approved an additional $82 billion for education programs through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF), which will provide funding for K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and other programs.

College students impacted by the coronavirus may be eligible for assistance through the ESF. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

University of Hawaii (UH): UH continues to provide updated information for students on its website here.

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

HIDOE parents and students with health-related questions can also call the Department’s health hotline. More information is available here.

The Grab-and-Go meal program has been extended through June 2021. More information 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 (Last Updated 05/2020)