Unemployment Bill to Benefit Thousands of Laid-off Maine Workers Bookmark and Share

July 22, 2010

The Maine Department of Labor is moving quickly to notify thousands of Mainers affected by legislation passed in Congress today restoring federally funded unemployment benefits for laid-off workers, but the agency cautioned that funds will take a while to reach claimants.

President Obama is widely expected to sign the measure later today, reauthorizing the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and Extended Benefits (EB) programs. The Maine Department of Labor began efforts last week to prepare for the anticipated extension and will send out notices early next week to the nearly 10,000 workers potentially eligible for benefits under the programs.

The new law continues the Federal EUC and EB programs through November 30, 2010. Benefit payments under EUC and EB will be paid retroactively for any weeks disrupted for claimants who meet all other eligibility requirements. The measure also continues until early December the $25 Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) payments to any active claimant with a Benefit Year that started prior to June 2, 2010. Workers with new initial unemployment claims filed after June 2, 2010 will not include the $25 FAC payment.

There are no new weeks of benefits/tiers included in the legislation. That means that workers who ran out of all benefits available to them through EUC or EB programs will not receive any additional weeks as a result of this proposal.

Claimants will receive notices in the mail next week. Each mailing will include information on steps to take in order to sign-up or continue collecting benefits under the EUC or EB programs. For some workers, that will mean filling out an enclosed application or weekly claim cards and mailing it back to the Maine Department of Labor. Simply receiving a notice or application does not mean a worker is eligible for benefits.

“The quickest and easiest way for workers to reopen their claim is to complete the materials that come in the mail,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura 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. 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. Since the start of the recession, the federally funded unemployment programs have provided over $300 million in benefits to laid-off Maine workers. A recent study by Moody’s Analytics found that every dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates an overall return of $1.61 for the economy.

”The programs have served as an economic stabilizer for communities hardest hit by the recession,” said Fortman. “We are working quickly to ensure benefits are quickly restored for eligible claimants.”

More information about the extensions are posted on the Maine Department of Labor Unemployment Benefits website, www.fileforui.com.