The Maine Department of Labor is asking self-employed individuals seeking to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance follow a filing schedule to help reduce internet traffic to the site when filing opens Friday, May 1 at 8 a.m.
The DOL notes the application will be available 24/7 after 8 a.m. on May 1, and a claim for this week can be filed anytime between the May 1 opening and 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, May 2.
The filing schedule is as follows:
Last names A-H file from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Last names I-Q file from 10 a.m. to Noon
Last names R-Z file from Noon to 2 p.m.
It is recommended that those who miss their filing time slot file after 2 p.m.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a new federal program which expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits to certain categories of workers not typically able to receive unemployment in the past, such as:
- Self-employed workers
- Independent contractors
- Nonprofit employees not already covered by regular state unemployment benefits
- Gig economy workers
- Workers who do not have enough work history and earnings to be eligible for traditional unemployment benefits
- Others who have been determined ineligible for regular unemployment benefits
Claimants filing for PUA will be asked to self-attest to their earnings in either 2018 or 2019 when they file their claim. The federal Office of the Inspector General has advised that this program will be subject to rigorous audits, and so the Department asks that claimants provide accurate information to the best of their ability.
PUA benefits start at 50% of the average weekly state unemployment benefit for self-employed and those who do not meet monetary eligibility for regular unemployment, a release noted, or $172 per week.
“If you are self-employed, once we are able to verify documented earnings, PUA benefits will be adjusted retroactively,” a news release said. “The maximum benefit available under PUA is $445/week.”
In addition, anyone who receives a PUA benefit also receives the full $600 additional weekly benefit from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which is available through July 25, 2020. Claimants will also need to file a certification every week in order to receive benefits.
To expedite the benefits process, claimants are not required at this time to send the Department paper or electronic copies of documents showing their earnings. The Department will let claimants know later in May when these documents should be uploaded to finalize their claims.
Claimants under PUA should do the following:
No action needed: Claimants who have been denied unemployment benefits due to not having enough earnings to qualify for state benefits do not need to reapply. Their claim in the system will automatically process.
Claim must be updated: Those who are self-employed and who attempted to file for unemployment benefits before PUA was implemented must log-in to their online unemployment account and update their claim with their self-attestation of earnings.
Claim must be filed: All others eligible for PUA but who had yet not filed a claim will should visit maine.gov/unemployment and fill out the new streamlined application form for PUA. Submit your weekly certification each week thereafter.
More information on PUA and instructions on how to apply can be found on MDOL’s website: maine.gov/unemployment/pua.