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November 9, 2009
Thousands of laid-off Maine workers may benefit from extra weeks of unemployment benefits under a measure signed last week by President Obama.
The bill guarantees up to 14 weeks of additional benefits for workers in all states, with an additional six weeks available in high unemployment states if Congress acts to extend the program overall in 2010.
To qualify for the extra weeks of benefits, laid off workers must have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and have run out of all other unemployment benefits before December 31, 2009. As many as 2,000 Maine workers may be eligible for the additional weeks of Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Several thousand more could qualify by the end of the year.
The Maine Department of Labor will mail out applications the week of November 16 to all workers identified as potentially eligible under the new program. The first payable week for benefits is the week ending November 14, 2009. Recipients will need to file a weekly claim each week in order to remain eligible.
Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman stressed that workers do not need to call the Unemployment Claims Center to file a claim under the new program. “The simplest and quickest way to file is to complete and return the application form they receive in the mail,” she said.
Workers will also be able to file claims for Emergency Unemployment Compensation by calling the Unemployment Claims Center system toll free at 1-800-593-7660 or TTY: 1-888-457-8884. The claims center is open Monday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Once an Emergency Unemployment Compensation claim has been set up, weekly benefit claims can be filed online (www.fileforui.com), by telephone using the automated voice interactive system at the number above, or by mail.
Due to heavy call volumes at the Unemployment Claim Center, applications by mail or fax are strongly encouraged. Callers that get a busy signal or long wait time should call back later in the day or week (or complete and mail in an application form). Filing a claim later in the week will not affect the start of the claim.
More information about the program will be posted on the Maine Department of Labor Unemployment Benefits website (www.fileforui.com) as it becomes available.