Emergency Unemployment Extension to Help Laid-off Maine Workers Bookmark and Share

July 1, 2008

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Prompted by a rising national unemployment rate and slowing U.S. economy, Congress and the President have approved emergency extended unemployment benefits for laid-off workers. The measure becomes effective on Monday, July 7, and the Maine Department of Labor will begin accepting claims for emergency extended unemployment benefits that morning.

Workers must file an application to receive the emergency extended unemployment benefits. Maine Department of Labor is mailing benefit applications to more than 31,000 Mainers identified as potentially eligible.

“The simplest and quickest way to file for benefits under this benefit extension is to complete and return the application form that the Maine Department of Labor will be mailing out later this week,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. “Applications will begin being processed the week of July 7.”

Workers will also be able to download a copy of the emergency extended unemployment application form from the Maine Department of Labor and mail or fax it in. Recipients need to file a weekly claim each week in order to remain eligible.

Emergency extended unemployment benefits can pay up to an additional thirteen weeks of unemployment to eligible workers. Unemployed workers may qualify for the extension if they are currently unemployed and have exhausted regular unemployment benefits on a benefit year that ended on or after May 1, 2007 and have no rights to any benefits under any other unemployment program. They also must meet certain earnings requirements over the past 15 to 18 months. Applications for emergency extended unemployment can be taken through the week ending March 28, 2009 for workers who may exhaust their benefits in the coming months and who otherwise meet program eligibility rules.

Starting the week of July 7 – 12, workers can also file claims for emergency extended unemployment benefits 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. Unlike regular unemployment claims, the initial claim for emergency extended unemployment benefits cannot be filed over the Internet. Once an emergency extended unemployment claim has been set up, weekly benefit claims can be filed online (www.File4UI.com), by telephone using the automated voice interactive system at the number above or by mail.

Because call volumes at the Unemployment Claim Center will likely be heavy, applications by mail or fax are 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 the application form). Filing a claim later in the week will not affect the start of the claim.

“The weakening national economy has affected thousands of Maine workers,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. “This temporary extension of benefits provides needed help to workers who have lost their jobs and are having trouble finding new work.”