The Maine unemployment compensation (UC) program provides local workers who recently lost their jobs with temporary financial assistance. UC, which is also referred to as unemployment insurance (UI), is funded through the tax dollars of in-state employers. Furthermore, the Maine Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for managing the UI program across the state. Within the DOL, the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation is also responsible for managing funds.
Qualified candidates may be curious about how to apply for unemployment online or through different methods. The sections below will explain the state’s eligibility for unemployment requirements, as well as the specific documents candidates need to apply. Furthermore, additional subsections will explain how applicants may claim unemployment benefits and what they can do if they are denied benefits.
What is unemployment in Maine?
Maine unemployment insurance is a short-term program designed to provide support to applicants while they search for new jobs. To qualify for unemployment, candidates must have recently lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Moreover, workers must be ready and willing to accept suitable employment offers. The maximum period for candidates to maintain an unemployment claim is 26 weeks within a calendar year. Furthermore, the maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA) they may receive is $431. This means that beneficiaries may not receive more than this total each week they are enrolled in UC. While unemployment insurance benefits are designed to provide households with support, applicants must remember that UI is not intended to be a long-term solution to joblessness. In order to maintain UI coverage, petitioners must be actively pursuing relevant job opportunities. Similarly, they must accept any suitable offers they receive.
What are the requirements to get unemployment in Maine?
Applicants must meet specific eligibility for unemployment requirements to be considered for the state’s UC program. In order to determine who qualifies for unemployment in Maine, the DOL examines specific aspects of the petitioner’s candidacy. For example, the department examines whether or not applicants are able to work. Likewise, petitioners must be prepared to accept any suitable employment opportunities they are offered. In addition, petitioners must be physically able to perform the jobs they are applying for. Applicants do not meet unemployment insurance eligibility requirements if they refuse suitable work offers. Moreover, candidates who have scheduling conflicts that prevent them from working will be excluded from the program. For instance, petitioners who cannot work because they have school or child care commitments may not receive UI.
Qualifications for unemployment also examine how claimants lost their previous jobs. In order to receive UC benefits, petitioners must be unemployed due to circumstances that were out of their control. Therefore, candidates may not receive UI if they:
- Were fired. Candidates who are let go due to misconduct or work neglect may not qualify for this program.
- . Claimants who quit for personal reasons may not receive UI. Examples of this include quitting due to a lack of transportation, scheduling conflicts or simply because the applicants disliked their positions.
- Participated in labor disputes. Applicants who are participating in a work stoppage such as a strike will not qualify for UC benefits.
There are also specific financial qualifications for UI in Maine. Specifically, the state requires that petitioners made enough money during their base periods to qualify for UC. The base period refers to the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters preceding an application. In order to be financially eligible to claim UI benefits, the DOL examines the following criteria:
- Wage distribution – Applicants must have earned at least two times the annual average state wage during at least two calendar quarters.
- Income total – Regarding the total base period, claimants must have earned at least six times the state’s annual average weekly in order to qualify for UC.
How can I sign up for unemployment in Maine?
Applicants may wonder how to apply for unemployment online or via other methods. In addition to submitting an online application for unemployment, candidates may also apply over the phone or through the mail. Regardless of how claimants choose to file their petitions, they must be sure to include the following information in their applications:
- Identifying numbers – Applicants must submit their Social Security Numbers (SSNs). If the workers are not U.S. citizens, they must provide their Alien Registration Numbers.
- Work history – All petitioners are required to include in their submissions their work histories for the past 18 months. This include names, phone numbers and addresses of each employer.
- Dependent information – Claimants who will be supporting their children using UI benefits must include their dependents’ names and Social Security Numbers.
Furthermore, former federal employees and military members who apply for unemployment benefits must submit their relevant documents. Therefore, veterans must submit their DD-214, and federal employees are required to include their SF-8 or SF-50.
How do I prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Maine?
Most petitioners need to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Maine after they submit their applications. These fact-finding conversations are required for all claimants who are unemployed for reasons besides being laid off. Because most applicants must participate in an unemployment phone interview, candidates should not imply that the DOL will reject their claims upon requesting an interview. The questions asked during unemployment interview vary depending on each applicant’s specific petition. Therefore, it is difficult to prepare for these interviews because each one is different. In general, applicants must be ready to discuss the circumstances that led to their unemployment.
In some instances, the DOL may require an unemployment interview with employer. The information obtained through the interview will be compared to details that were provided in an application. When petitioners are fired, it is particularly common for the DOL to conduct an interview with the applicant’s former employer. Regardless who is being interviewed, it is important for neither parties to focus on how to pass the unemployment insurance interview. The purpose of these conversations is to help the DOL discern whether or not petitioners qualify for UI benefits. Therefore, it is important for claimants and their employers focus on providing the department accurate and honest information.
In order to prepare for the UI interview, applicants and their employers may gather supporting documents before the conversation. Specific items that may be helpful include:
- A copy of the employee handbook
- Email correspondence between the candidate and his or her supervisor
- Written warnings from the human resources department to the applicant
- Notes from the claimant’s exit interview
How do I claim unemployment benefits in Maine?
In order to claim unemployment benefits in Maine, petitioners must make sure that they fulfill the program’s ongoing requirements. Completing these steps is necessary for applicants who want to maintain an unemployment benefits claim once they are approved to receive UC. The program has three major requirements:
- Filing a claim – Petitioners are required to file a claim during each week that they are fully or partially unemployed. Candidates who do not file claims for a specific week will be ineligible to receive funds during that time. When filing a claim, beneficiaries must report how much money they earned during the weeks they are claiming. This must be completed within 14 days from the week’s end.
- Searching for work – Beneficiaries must be actively searching for employment opportunities while they receive UI funds. Similarly, enrollees must register with the state’s online portal to be connected with local job opportunities. Furthermore, claimants are required to document and report their work search efforts when they file their weekly certifications.
- Ability to work – UC recipients must be willing and able to work. This means that all enrollees must physically be able to accept a job when it is offered to them. In order to be paid UI benefits, applicants may not have obligations that prevent them from accepting full-time employment. Examples of situations that would exclude them include being incarcerated, having a conflicting class schedule or not having reliable transportation.
When claiming benefits for unemployment, petitioners must remember that they are required to report whatever income they receive. Any earnings they receive that are greater than $100 will be deducted from their WBA. Similarly, if claimants earn more than $5 above their WBA, they will not receive funds for that week. Despite this stipulation, enrollees are still required to report all income they earn during the weeks they claim. Failing to do so is considered fraud, which may result in the enrollees’ being dismissed from the program.
What do I do if I am denied unemployment benefits in Maine?
Petitioners who are denied unemployment in Maine are able to appeal those decisions. Even though they were not the ones denied unemployment benefits, employers may also file appeals if they disagree with the DOL’s decisions. Claimants must file an unemployment denial appeal within 15 days from when the DOL mails its determination. Petitioners may file their requests:
- Over the phone
- Through the mail
- Via fax
Once applicants file for their denied UI appeals, they must submit all relevant evidence to the Division of Administrative Hearings (DAH). Most hearings are held over the phone, and the DAH will mail notices to all relevant parties. These documents detail when the conversations will take place. However, if the hearings will be conducted in person, these notices will also contain the trial locations. Regardless, employers and claimants may have witnesses testify for them. In addition, both parties are permitted to have legal representation at their hearings.
Once the hearing officer makes his or her decision regarding the UC denial appeal, the determination will be mailed to all relevant participants. If either party disagrees with the hearing officer’s decision, they have the right to appeal to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Commission.
How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in Maine?
A federal unemployment extension is available to individual states or on a national scale when there are many unemployed individuals in an area. As a result, an unemployment benefits extension in Maine must be authorized by Congress. While not commonly offered, an unemployment extension offers additional benefits to applicants who have already exhausted the state’s 26-week maximum enrollment. These extensions are offered in tiers:
- Tiers one and two extend benefits by 14 weeks.
- Tier three extends UI benefits for an additional nine weeks.
When available, petitioners requesting a UC extension must contact the DOL about enrollment.
How do I contact the Maine unemployment office?
The Maine unemployment office maintains locations in various major cities around the state. In addition, each UI office has a phone number that claimants and employers may call to learn more about the program. Moreover, they may visit an unemployment office in person. The Augusta DOL is located at:
45 Commerce Drive
Augusta, Maine 0433
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When should I apply for unemployment benefits in Maine?
The best time to apply for unemployment insurance is as soon as possible. The more you wait, the more likely you are to miss out on a week of claim payments. Keep in mind that the time you were unemployed prior to your claim does not count towards your benefits. If you qualify for unemployment insurance your benefits will begin from the day you filed your claim.
Does the unemployment office contact my past employer?
Yes. The State of Maine Department of Labor will typically contact your past employers in order to obtain information needed to process your claim.
What is “ReEmployMe”?
The “ReEmployMe” website is the online portal the state of Maine uses to process unemployment claims. You can access the website by visiting reemployme.maine.gov. There you can find information on unemployment benefits, appeals, job opportunities and more.What is Covered Employment?Covered Employment refers to the time you have worked for employers that have paid the unemployment taxes, which are required by law, to the state or are obligated to pay unemployment benefits.