BUC - Claimants Frequently Asked Questions
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Claimants and Employers have the same right to appeal an unemployment decision to grant or deny unemployment benefits under federal and state law. Our goal is that all appeals conclude with the parties feeling they had a fair opportunity to present their case.
Unemployment insurance provides a temporary source of income to individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Unemployment insurance is funded solely by unemployment taxes paid by employers; employees do not pay into the unemployment system.
You can apply as soon as you become unemployed. Any weeks prior to the date in which your application is filed cannot be considered, and are not eligible for benefits, so you should not wait to file your claim.
You can apply for unemployment online, by telephone, or by mail. Your best option for filing an unemployment claim is to file online. Calling the department to speak with a customer service representative may be difficult during periods of high call volumes, especially Mondays and Tuesdays in the winter; you may experience a long wait time on the phone or get a message to call back later in the day. Wait times are typically shorter on Wednesdays and Thursdays and in the afternoon.
If you are temporarily laid off, your employer may provide you with a partial claim form if they expect to rehire you within a short period.
When you apply, you will need the following information:
- Your Social Security Number (and Alien Registration Number if applicable);
- The business name, address and telephone number of each place you worked during the past 18 months; and
- The jobs you held and the dates you worked (for each employer).
- Dependent Information: Social Security number (s) of children whom you’re the main support of.
Veterans who separated from the armed forces in the past 18 months will need to provide information from a DD-214. Federal civilian employees will need to provide information from a SF-8 or SF-50.
Yes. We will contact your employer to obtain information needed to process your application.
The dollar amount you are qualified to receive each week is called your weekly benefit amount (WBA). It is based on your earnings during a set period prior to losing your job. The figure is calculated by dividing the average of your wages in the two highest quarters of your base period by 22. The maximum WBA is adjusted annually. Effective June 1, 2018, it is $431.00 (plus $10 per dependent per week, and can total no more than one half of the WBA).
The maximum amount of benefits you can receive, as well as the length of time that you may receive benefits, depends on your individual earnings, but is limited to a maximum of 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits. Not all individuals qualify for all 26 weeks. Not all weeks need to be used consecutively, but must be used within the benefit year.
A benefit year is a period of 52 consecutive weeks; it begins with the week in which you file your initial application for benefits. Because a benefit year must be created for each claimant, the term is commonly used as shorthand for a person's unemployment "account." So, the term is used both to define the period during which you may be eligible to receive benefits and to describe the record you have established with the unemployment bureau to receive benefits.
The base period is the first four (4) of the last five (5) completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of your benefit year. We will use the last four completed quarters if you are not eligible using the regular base period quarters.
Covered employment is work performed for employers who are required by law to pay unemployment taxes to the state or are required to reimburse the state for any unemployment benefits paid to former employees. Covered employment from other states may be used under certain conditions.
Almost all employers in the state are covered by the Maine unemployment compensation law; however, certain types of employment are not (for example, some non-profit entities or some agricultural employers). If a question arises during your initial claim as to whether your former employer was covered by unemployment law, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) office will research the issue for you and make a determination as to whether you are eligible to receive benefits.
Not necessarily. When you apply for unemployment, we determine whether you are monetarily eligible; which means that you have sufficient qualifying wages spread over a minimum of two (2) calendar quarters. Then we must determine whether you meet all other eligibility requirements.
You may have enough covered wages in your base period and still be denied for other reasons. Some of the reasons for disqualification are listed below.
You May Be Disqualified If You:
- were discharged or fired for misconduct [Laws, Rules]
- voluntarily quit without good cause attributable to the employment [Laws , Rules]
- are not able and available for full-time work [Laws, Rules]
- are not a U. S. citizen and not authorized to work in this country [Laws, Rules]
- have limited the wages, hours, days, or areas of a job you would accept [Laws, Rules]
- do not report for or satisfactorily participate in reemployment services as directed [Laws, Rules]
- are self-employed [Laws, Rules]
- are involved in a strike [Laws, Rules]
- are not looking for work [Laws, Rules]
- refuse suitable work [Laws, Rules]
File a claim for every week you are fully or partially unemployed: To receive benefits for a specific week, you must file a weekly claim. You can file unemployment any day of the week online or by phone. Be aware, however, that each claim must be filed within 14 days of the week-ending date (Saturday) of the week you are claiming, or it may not be eligible for payment.
Look for work: To be eligible to receive unemployment benefits you must be both actively seeking employment and actively registered with Maine JobLink (unless you have been issued a waiver by the Department of Labor that specifically exempts you from having to look for work). Watch this short video that explains looking for work. If for some reason you are not registered with Maine JobLink, you must do so immediately online, or by visiting or contacting your local CareerCenter. You are now required to report your work search activity when filing your weekly certification.
You must be available for work, and able to work, each week you file a claim: You must be both physically capable of work and available to accept a job if one is offered to you. Examples of situations where a person may not be available for work include: vacation, schooling, illness, incarceration or lack of transportation. Call the unemployment office at 1-800-593-7660 if you have questions about any of the requirements listed above.
It will take approximately two to three weeks from the date you first file a new claim to receive your first unemployment payment, assuming there are no potentially disqualifying issues to be addressed (like those listed above).
In cases where a fact finding interview is scheduled to adjudicate issues of eligibility, claimants allowed benefits will receive those monies shortly after they get their decision in the mail. The first eligible week claimed is a Waiting Period week, and no payment is made for that week. (Remember, you must file a claim to receive credit for the waiting week.)
Yes. You must report all earnings from all jobs for the week the work was performed even if you were not paid that week. Your first $100.00 will not affect your unemployment check. Earning greater than $100.00 will be deducted from your benefits. If you earn more than $5.00 above your weekly benefit amount, you will not be eligible for benefits for that week.
You should file a claim. This information is provided to you as a guide only. Your eligibility cannot be accurately determined without actually filing a claim for benefits. You will be provided with a written decision that can be appealed if you disagree with the facts. Your claim cannot be backdated for any reason and valuable weeks of benefits could be lost if you delaying filing a claim. You cannot be denied the right to file a claim and receive a determination of eligibility.
Yes. The Maine Department of Labor is a workforce development agency and offers a variety of federal and state programs to people who are eligible. Contact your local CareerCenter for more information and find out if you qualify for opportunities in your area.
There are several reasons why the Department may place a lock on your PIN that requires you to contact the claims center in order to unlock it. Most of these reasons involve protecting your identity and sensitive information.
To avoid having your PIN locked, be sure to keep your address current with the Department; when logging in online and you have forgotten your login or password, use the “Forgot your email?” or “Forgot your password?” links and follow the directions; and report any identity theft issues immediately to the Department when you become aware of them.
A PIN might be locked when:
- your mail is returned to the Department with an undeliverable address.
- the Department has received a notice that your personal information may have been compromised or stolen.
- there is an eligibility issue with your claim.
- a claimant has been reported as deceased to the Social Security Administration.
- you have exceeded the allowable PIN entry attempts and it appears that someone who is not authorized could be trying to access your account.
For help with a locked PIN, call the Unemployment Claims Center at 1-800-593-7660 between 8:00 AM and 12:30 p.m. PM Monday through Friday. Please keep in mind that Mondays are high call volume days with possible 20-30 minute wait times. Wait times drop significantly later in the week.