June 4, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 2020
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending May 30
AUGUSTA - For the week ending May 30, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 11,000 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and an additional 13,500 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 16,500 individuals filing an initial claim.
About 162,000 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 55,000 weekly certifications were filed under PUA, including for retroactive benefit weeks. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits. Data is preliminary and subject to revision. Since March 15, the Department has paid out roughly $650 million in unemployment benefits.
The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud. Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person's Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.
"The Department of Labor is committed to maintaining the integrity of Maine's unemployment system and, alongside our partners, fighting fraud and defending innocent Maine people from scammers trying to exploit them," Commissioner Laura Fortman said. We know these benefits are a lifeline for many Maine people during this unprecedented time, and the Department will work as hard as we can to distribute benefits as quickly as we can while we continue to combat this criminal activity.
The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employees personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft/.
Data on initial and continued claims, benefits paid, contributions received, the balance of the unemployment insurance trust fund, as well as other information, is available at https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ui.html .
If you have not yet applied, you can do so at https://www.maine.gov/unemployment. Click on the ReEmployME icon in the bottom left of the page. You will be prompted to create a claimant account, after which you can submit an unemployment claim and file your weekly certifications. Dont forget to verify your email address and sign up for direct deposit. There is no separate application for PUA. The application process will make the determination of whether you are eligible for state or PUA benefits based on your answers to questions. PUA benefits are available to anyone who is self-employed and does not receive W2 wages, regardless of the profitability of your business.
The Department of Labor recommends filing your claims online with a computer, as opposed to a smartphone, and during evening hours when internet traffic is less congested. The Department has implemented an alphabetical call in schedule to help reduce phone line congestion as the Department ramps up its capacity to receive and process claims. Last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday, I-Q on Tuesday; and R-Z on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.
Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and may be reached at 1-800-593-7660. Roughly 1,800 calls are answered per day. Those who are unable to connect with a claims representative should submit a message at https://www.maine.gov/labor/contact/ .
For more information and resources, visit the Departments unemployment page: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/ .
Follow the Maine Department of Labor on Facebook @MElabor and Twitter @maine_labor.