AUGUSTA — Starting today, Aug. 4, recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), whose income documentation was not automatically matched to their claim, can upload their tax documents within their ReEmployME account to determine if they are eligible for retroactive benefits.
This follows the Maine Department of Labor’s action last week to begin paying retroactive benefits to eligible PUA recipients whose claims were automatically matched to their available tax documentation, per a news release.
This will be an ongoing process. Some 6,000 Maine people have been found eligible for retroactive payments so far.
Tuesday’s announcement is the last step in the MDOL’s implementation of the sweeping federal unemployment programs that were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the release noted.
From March 15 to July 25, MDOL has paid $1.24 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits.
“With this last piece of the federal programs now in place, those who we cannot automatically match information for are able to upload their tax documents and receive their adjusted benefits,” Commissioner Laura Fortman said. “As we continue to monitor Congressional action after the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, these redeterminations provide some crucial financial relief for those eligible.”
PUA is one of three new federal unemployment programs created in response to COVID-19. It covers workers previously ineligible for unemployment, such as the self-employed and gig workers, and is available through the week ending December 26.
To expedite payments to Mainers, PUA was launched in Maine in May with all eligible persons receiving the minimum state PUA benefit of $172 per week, plus the federal additional $600, pending recalculation based on their tax information. Eligibility for the FPUC (additional $600) program ended the week ending July 25.
Self-employed individuals whose net income, or other PUA recipients whose gross wages in 2019 were below $15,224 will continue to receive the minimum benefit of $172 a week, and do not need to upload any information. Individuals with higher earnings are eligible for a maximum benefit under the PUA program of up to $445 or $462 per week, depending on whether their claim was filed before or after June 1.
MDOL is currently contacting claimants whose information could not be automatically matched through email and regular mail with instructions on how to upload this information.
Guides on how to upload this information can be found on the Department’s website: maine.gov/unemployment.
Once redeterminations are made, claimants will receive a new monetary determination letter in the mail stating what their new benefit amount is. If retroactive benefits are due for past weeks, they will be made within 14 days of the claimant receiving their PUA redetermination letter. Claimants have the right to appeal the determination if they believe the information is not accurate.
Reminder: Since Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (the federal additional $600) was a supplement paid to individuals receiving other unemployment compensation benefits, the expiration of FPUC does not affect individuals’ eligibility for the underlying UI programs including state UI, or the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which remain in place for weeks of unemployment ending on December 26, 2020.