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Letter for Tuesday, March 9, 2021

The struggle is real

I am writing to inform you of a terrible situation in our county and state. As a member of the community struggling with unemployment, I feel that there has not been enough focus on the disasters that the citizens are experiencing, and I guarantee there are stories here that deeply affect our community. Here is my experience so far:

Due to DLIR ineptitude, I have not been paid my benefits in 3 months.

I have been claiming regular unemployment insurance since May/June 2020. When Mayor Kawakami joined safe travels in October of 2020, I went back to work part time and filed for partial unemployment until my funds ran out. Mayor Kawakami opted out of safe travels and I was back to full unemployment. The Unemployment office processed my partial claims out of order, but did process some claims. My Unemployment funds ran out in December and I filed for the extension. I have had a nightmare since.

After thousands of attempted calls and missed payments for about a month, I finally spoke to an agent on the phone who told me my claim would be processed and money would be in my account in 3 days. That did not happen.

After a few thousand more attempted calls and emails to mayor and governor, my claim was sent to the Kauai Unemployment office. They told me that because of the incorrect processing, my account was overpaid, and they would have to cancel out later payments to make up for the missed earlier payments then back date my extension request. However, only an Oahu unemployment office had the ability to do this. So, my claim went to Oahu.

Again, thousands of calls and multiple emails later. I finally was able to get a UI agent on the phone yesterday. She had her supervisor look into the situation, they told me the main office had my claim and they would call on it and call me back. I got the call back today, the main office is saying they can NOT touch my claim because Kauai already had touched it and they need to send it BACK TO KAUAI.

So, here I am a single mother on a single income living off the good graces of my family while unemployment plays hot potato with my claim, which is messed up because of DLIR’s own errors.

DLIR can not and will not provide any answers an when I can expect my claims to be resolved. Trying to get any reasonable or reliable communication from them is next to impossible. All the government officials point the finger and tell me “this is not my department and I can’t help you.” No one in leadership is taking accountability and helping the people.

If there is anything you can do to help bring awareness and help me and other members of the community experiencing these life altering disasters due to DLIR, please please do.

Thank you for your time,

Heather Friend, Kilauea
Source: The Garden Island

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