AUGUSTA — COVID-19 has created the need for extended unemployment, and there are now a number of people who are coming to the end of their benefit year, according to the Maine Department of Labor.
If an individual filed their unemployment claim a year ago, their benefit year may be expiring soon. A benefit year is the 52-week period following the date someone filed their initial claim. For example, if someone filed a claim in March 2020, their benefit year would end in March 2021 and a new one would need to be established if they are still eligible to collect benefits.
The Department will need to review these claims to determine whether someone qualifies for regular state unemployment benefits on this new benefit year, especially if they are currently collecting on one of the federal programs.
For some, a new benefit year will be automatically established. Others will receive a system prompt to file a new benefit if the prior one has expired.
If someone is receiving benefits through PUA or PEUC, the system will in most cases complete the eligibility review automatically.
If they do not qualify for state unemployment, they will receive a denial letter for state unemployment benefits on the new benefit year and continue to receive benefits through the federal program until they have exhausted it or the program ends.
If someone worked since they filed their claim last year, have out of state wages, Federal Civilian wages, Military wages, or have been on Workshare within the past year, their claim may require additional review to determine eligibility.
If the system prompts an individual to file a new benefit year, from their account they should navigate to “Unemployment Claim” and “File Unemployment Claim” to complete this process.
“We recommend they do so as soon as they receive the notification to avoid missing out on eligible claim weeks,” the Department says.
Claimants should continue to file their weekly claims for benefits, even if an eligibility review is pending. If otherwise eligible DOL will process all eligible pending weeks for payment once the review is completed.