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If you lost your job due to coronavirus COVID-19, here's how to file for unemployment in Maine

The coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak has lead to nearly 60,000 Mainers have filed for unemployment in the past 3 weeks, nearly double the monthly total from last year

MAINE, USA — MAINE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR CONTACT INFORMATION

Maine Department of Labor Update: Tuesday, April 7

According to the Maine Department of Labor, on Monday night tens of thousands of unemployment benefit payments were scheduled to process. Because of the unprecedented volume of people receiving benefits, the transfers to financial institutions and the department's debit card provider was delayed. This means that some of the people who filed their weekly claim on Sunday or Monday, and who were therefore expecting a payment today, will see a delay of up to 72 hours in receiving their weekly benefit. The Maine Department of Labor asks that you please keep checking with your financial institution.

Weekly certifications can be filed starting on Sunday for the previous week. If you can wait until later in the week to receive your payment, the department said to please file anytime Tuesday through Friday.

Update at 12:09 p.m. Tuesday: 

Maine Department of Labor: "Payment files have been received by the state's designated financial institution and are currently being transmitted to beneficiary's accounts. Payments should be in accounts within 24-72 hours. We ask that claimants expecting a payment today continue to check with their financial institutions."

WHERE WE STAND

The coronavirus pandemic is changing life as we know it—not only from a health and social standpoint but from an economic one. Gov. Janet Mills, health officials, and the White House are forcing closures, self-quarantine, and, most importantly, social distancing to contain the spread, which means millions of people across the country are without work.

The pandemic has forced over 60,000 Mainers to file for unemployment insurance. According to state data, this monthly average nearly doubles the monthly total from last year and the becomes the single-highest weekly total since the Great Recession.

"We took more initial claims in one week than we did in a month during the great recession," Laura Fortman, the Commissioner of the Department of Labor, said.

Fortman says the week before March 21, 649 Mainers filed unemployment claims; the week ending March 21, there were 21,459. That's a 3,200 percent increase.

Fortman said in a recession, you would typically start to see gradual signs that bad times are ahead -- and then start planning for it by putting people and processes in place. That's not what happened in this case.

Credit: NCM

HOW TO FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT

You can file your claim here: https://reemployme.maine.gov

First, you'll need to create an account, which requires your social security number, name, and birth date. After you create a username and password, you can file your claim.

You can file a claim in Maine if:

  • You have worked in the state of Maine or served in the military within the past 18 months.
  • You have not filed a claim for unemployment benefits against another state in the past 12 months.

You will need the following information to complete your claim:

  • Your Social Security Number;
  • Alien Registration Number, if applicable
  • The business name, address and telephone number of each place you worked at during the past 18 months;
  • The jobs you held and the dates you worked for each employer within the previous 18-month period.

You will proceed to fill out the information, which is pretty straight forward. When you get to the part about why you are filing, you can say "lack of work."

The Maine Dept. of Labor also has detailed filing guides: Guide for using ReEmployME and the ReEmployME Instruction Guide.

Starting Monday, April 6, Maine is instituting a new alphabetical-by-last-name call-in schedule for Maine people filing for unemployment benefits. 

The new schedule will help reduce phone line congestion as the Department ramps up its capacity to receive and process claims.

Starting Monday, Maine people seeking to file for unemployment by calling the 800 number with last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday; I-Q on Tuesday; R-Z on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will be left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.

While the MDOL has set up this schedule, the Department reiterates that the best way to file your claim as quickly as possible is to do so online as the website is available 24/7, and you don't have to wait.

Maine Department of Labor:

Department officials also say, "Federal Unemployment Program Update: Implementation is still in progress – new benefits are not yet available. All states, including Maine, still have not received the necessary guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor to implement the new federal unemployment benefits for people who are self-employed. U.S. DOL guidance was issued Saturday regarding eligibility for $600 payments. This is the first step. We will have it up and running as soon as possible, keep checking our website for updates. Both programs will be available retroactively once implemented. Stay tuned!"

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: NEWS CENTER Maine Coronavirus Section

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