State Assessing Impact of Federal Shutdown; Furloughed Workers Encouraged to File for Benefits On-Line

Posted on Oct 4, 2013 in Main, Press Releases

Honolulu –  On day four of the Federal government shutdown, Acting Governor Shan Tsutsui today provided an update on how the State is responding to the situation.

 “Each department director at yesterday’s emergency cabinet meeting has been tasked with assessing the impact of the shutdown on their federally-funded programs and positions,” said Tsutsui.  “It is going to take some time to fully understand the true fiscal and social impact on our State.”

Earlier this week, the Acting Governor and State Budget and Finance Director Kalbert Young spoke to members of the Hawaii congressional delegation to get a better sense of how our federally-funded state programs will be affected and the magnitude.

“The impacts of this shutdown are not isolated to the federal government.  It has operational implications for state and local governments,” said Young.

Right now the State is trying to determine its ability to keep various federally-funded programs and services available.  Programs such as Medicaid, temporary assistance for needy families, rental assistance, subsidized school lunches, and numerous social programs could be affected.  Operations and staff personnel funded by federal means are under review.

“The State has made a concerted effort to minimize the impact on State programs that are federally-funded and there hasn’t been any reduction in those programs.  But as this shutdown continues, we are not sure if the State can continue to afford to maintain the level of services,” said Young.

The Acting Governor and the State department directors are assessing the daily financial impacts.

“While the State is committed to providing these programs, we cannot nor should we assume the federal government’s obligations,” said Tsutsui.  “We will closely monitor the situation as the shutdown continues.  Another cabinet meeting is scheduled for early next week.”

The State is taking a proactive approach in preparation of the influx of furloughed local federal workers expected to file for benefits.

Federal employees who are unemployed due to the government shutdown may apply for unemployment insurance benefits.  However, if Congress ultimately acts to retroactively pay federal employees that were furloughed, then those employees will likely be required to reimburse the State for benefits received.

“We empathize with federal workers who are unable to work at this time through no fault of their own, especially given the uncertainty of the duration of the shutdown,” said Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Dwight Takamine.  “All federal workers eligible for benefits need to consider their own circumstances carefully in deciding whether to apply for benefits.  If individuals do apply for benefits, we highly recommend they file online to avoid long wait times on the telephone or at local offices.”

To apply for benefits online visit http://uiclaims.hawaii.gov from 6:30 am to 11:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and 9:00 am to 11:00 pm on weekends and holidays.  People can also call Hawaii Teleclaims at 643-5555 from 7:45 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has created a page on its website where furloughed workers can go for more information.  The webiste address is: http://labor.hawaii.gov/ui/federal-shutdown-unemployment-benefits-for-furloughed-workers/

To apply for benefits, furloughed federal workers will need to provide:

•             Personal information such as social security number, address, and date of birth.

•             Employment information such as employer’s name, location, and the address of your payroll office.

•             Proof of employment and wages to establish monetary entitlement.  Make copies of SF8 and SF50 (if available), earnings and leave statement for the one-year period prior to 10/1/13, W-2 for 2012, and furlough notice to give to the UI office for their records. These documents can be delivered mailed, faxed or emailed to the local claims office. Go to http://labor.hawaii.gov/ui/contact/ for contact information.

The DLIR’s Research and Statistics Office estimates that there are approximately 9,000 non-defense, federal employees in Hawaii, although it is unknown how many of those are considered essential by their agency and still working.