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December 21, 2009
Thousands of laid-off Maine workers will benefit from legislation signed by President Obama today. Provisions in the new law extend certain Federally-funded unemployment programs and COBRA insurance into the new year.
Under the new law, people receiving unemployment benefits will continue to be automatically enrolled in the next available benefit program through the end of February.
The bill moves the planned phase out of the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program from December 31, 2009 to February 28, 2010. Federal funding for the Extended Benefits and Federal Additional Compensation programs will also continue until then.
Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said the measure comes just in time for nearly 10,000 laid-off Maine workers who otherwise would have lost benefits in the next two months.
In praising the move, Commissioner Fortman emphasized that workers will not need to apply for or call the claims center to continue receiving benefits.
“Everyone eligible for extra weeks of benefits will automatically receive them if they continue to file their weekly unemployment claims as usual,” said Fortman. “
Maine law provides up to 26 weeks of Regular Unemployment Compensation to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Since the start of the recession, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program has added up to 47 weeks of benefits, with up to an additional 13 weeks under the Extended Benefits program. The Federal Additional Compensation program provides an extra $25 weekly payment to workers receiving benefits under any of those programs.
The Maine Department of Labor reminds workers that the best way to file for unemployment is to file online at www.fileforui.com. The online service is the quickest method for filing new unemployment claim or submitting a weekly benefit claim. Workers who don’t have a computer or internet access at home are encouraged to use a computer at their local library or CareerCenter.
More information about the program will be posted on the Maine Department of Labor Unemployment Benefits website (www.fileforui.com) as it becomes available.