Published in: Banks | April 1, 2020
How to Apply for Unemployment in Maine
By: Christy Bieber
Unemployment benefits could help you cover the bills if your income is cut or you are laid off because of the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 has left millions of Americans worried about dwindling bank account balances as businesses all across the country have shut down in an effort to flatten the curve or slow the spread of the virus.
A job loss or reduction in your income can hit hard, and you may already be worried about how you will cover the bills. But there is financial help available, including unemployment insurance. This guide on how to apply for unemployment in Maine can help you understand these benefits and get signed up for them if you qualify.
Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?
Maine has established certain requirements you must meet to be eligible to receive unemployment income. These include the following:
- You must have lost your job or had your income reduced through no fault of your own and you can't have voluntarily quit without cause or been discharged or fired for misconduct.
- You must participate in reemployment services as directed and must be actively looking for work.
- You can't refuse suitable work.
- You must meet minimum past income requirements.
Maine has announced it is waiving the work-search requirement through May 14, 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. You're also not expected to look for work if you're planning to return to your job after a temporary COVID-19 closure. And if you've been ordered to quarantine, you could be eligible for benefits as long as you're ready to accept work that wouldn't cause you to break isolation.
You must always be available and ready to work, as unemployment is not intended to serve as a form of sick leave or short-term disability benefits.
The minimum income is calculated using a base period, which is usually the first four quarters of the most recent five calendar quarters completed prior to the date you file.
Your wages need to have equaled at least twice the average annual Maine weekly wage during at least two calendar quarters of your base period and you must have received at least six times the average weekly wage during your entire base period.
The average weekly wage as of July 1, 2019 is $856.79.
How do I apply for unemployment benefits?
You can apply for unemployment benefits at ReEmployME or by phone at 800-593-7660. You will need to create an account and provide some basic information including:
- Your Social Security number or Alien Registration Number
- Your employment information for the past 18 months:
- Contact information for past employers (address and phone number)
- Dates you worked
After filing your initial claim, you must file a weekly certification either online or via phone.
How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits?
To calculate your benefit, the first step is to determine your average wage in the two quarters of your base period when you earned the most. Then divide by 22. If you are the main source of support for a child who is under 18, disabled, or between 18 and 23 and going to school, you may also be eligible for a $10 dependency allowance per child.
Maine has a maximum benefit of $445, not including the $10 per week additional dependency benefit, which can't exceed half the weekly benefit amount.
And the federal government has passed a stimulus package providing for an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits through the end of July, so this will significantly raise the amount you can receive.
How long can I collect unemployment benefits?
Maine's rules allow you to receive 26 full benefit payments during a 52-week benefit year. However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.
What if my unemployment claim is denied?
If you want to appeal a decision on your unemployment benefits, you have to do so within 15 days from the mailing date of the decision. You can file your appeal online and should include the deputy's decision number, your Social Security number, and the benefit year ending date.
A hearing will then be scheduled where you can present your case. You should continue to file your weekly certifications during the appeal process.
If you've been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be facing some difficult financial decisions. Take the time to understand these rules and maximize your chances of qualifying for unemployment benefits in Maine.
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