Tips for Filing Unemployment


Calling

MDOL is receiving a high volume of calls about and claims for unemployment benefits. Claims are accepted online 24 hours a day, seven days a week; it is best to file from a computer and in the evening when internet traffic is reduced. You can also view answers to Frequently Asked Questions online https://www.maine.gov/unemployment. If your question isn’t answered there, you can submit a new question through the online Customer Message Portal (CMP): https://www.maine.gov/labor/contact/index.html.

Questions are being answered as quickly as possible and MDOL is training and bringing on more staff to answer calls and messages. There is still a significant wait period. An unprecedented number of Mainers have been impacted by COVID-19 and we appreciate your patience.

MDOL has implemented an alphabetical call-in schedule to help reduce phone line congestion as it ramps up capacity to receive and process claims. Those with 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.

Computer or Mobile Access

If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, you can call 1-800-593-7660 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

It’s best to use a desktop, laptop or tablet to file for unemployment rather than a cell phone.

Account Issues

There are two common issues that are locking up unemployment accounts. First, usernames are case-sensitive so: do not use capital letters. Second, as soon as you create an on-line account, verify your email. This will help you reset your password later if needed. To do that, log into your account, go to the “Benefit Maintenance” tab on the home screen, click on “Update Claimant Profile,” and then “Verify Email.” Enter the code sent to the email on record in the text field.

If you’ve tried to log into your account two times and the password still isn’t working, hit “Forgot Password” and follow the instructions. We currently have eight staff members dedicated solely to password resets. Please help free up these folks so they can focus on resolving other unemployment issues. Do not attempt your password more than twice. Thanks for your help!

For security purposes, the system will log you off after 10 minutes of no activity. About 2 minutes before the session times out, a box will pop up with a warning, which gives you the option to select “keep working.” If your session times out, any data already saved beforehand will be retained for when you log back in.

If you have three or more weekly certifications that were not filed, your ability to file them freezes. Because of this, you should file your weekly certification every week, and report any wages you earned the week before. In order to ensure everyone can catch up, the department will make additional weeks available for filing. Periodically check your account so that when available you can file the missing weeks.

Due to an unprecedented volume of claims, at the moment it might take several days for the claim to show up on your account. For your records, please print or take a screenshot of the final confirmation page where the screen says the claim has been successfully submitted so that you have proof that we received it. (Usually, in times of lower volume claims, the new claim would show in the individual’s portal account within 24 hours. With high volumes, it is taking longer for every item to post to accounts.)

If an individual is denied, they will receive a written determination from MDOL in the mail. There are a number of reasons a claim could be denied. This will be explained in the determination letter they receive. They will need to follow the instructions in that written determination letter. If they have additional questions, they can submit a question at this link: https://www.maine.gov/labor/contact/index.html  

Update: See also eligibility under PUA—a new federal unemployment insurance program launched May 1. If the claim under regular unemployment has been denied for insufficient wages, no further action is needed as the person will be eligible for PUA, the claim is in the system and will automatically transfer to PUA, for more information: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/pua

Weekly Certification

Individuals who think they may be eligible for unemployment benefits should apply (online, available 24/7). Under the law, individuals applying must be able to work and available to work in order to be eligible for unemployment. Under the new state temporary unemployment measures, individuals must stay in contact with their employer and make sure the employer has current contact information.

Registering on the Maine JobLink—a public job database which gives job seekers access to thousands of jobs at any one time—is normally required for those receiving unemployment benefits as part of work search. However, work search has been waived at least until mid-July (see Question 1) due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Registering is still highly recommended since when the work search is reinstated, anyone still receiving UI benefits will need a JobLink account. When individuals register and submit a new unemployment claim, the UI system creates a partial Maine JobLink account for them, assigning a generic username and a temporary password with a social security number.  Once they log into Maine JobLink with the login information provided, Maine JobLink will respond that the assigned password has expired and require they create a new password.

Payment

We recommend all individuals opt for “direct deposit” as a payment method. It is the fastest method to receive payments. For instructions on choosing direct deposit, see the yellow box on the MDOL Unemployment webpage: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/.

For a step-by-step walk through of the process, please go  https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/reemploymeguide/ (see page 27 of the guide). If instead an individual chooses to use a debit card, please be advised that U.S. Bank handles the Visa debit cards for unemployment benefits (not the MDOL unemployment program). Cards are mailed out by the U.S. postal service. US Bank contact information: 1-855-282-6161 (corrected number)