Update on Unemployment Insurance in Challenging Times

For Immediate Release: March 24, 2020

MDOL: AUGUSTA – A significant number of individuals are filing unemployment insurance (UI) claims and reaching out to the Maine Department of Labor with questions as Mainers lose work due to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

“The Maine Department of Labor is working as quickly as it can to process the unprecedented number of unemployment claims,” said Commissioner Laura Fortman. “The unemployment insurance program provides a critical economic lifeline and is experiencing extremely high volumes of claims and questions. For example, our unemployment insurance webpage had over 90,000 views on March 20, up from 1,400 a week before. We recommend that those filing a claim do so online, and we appreciate everyone’s patience.”

To help those accessing the unemployment system, the Department urges all to review these tips for common questions and follow the links:

  • If you are unsure if you will be eligible for unemployment, we encourage you to apply. MDOL will review your application and make a case-by-case determination about eligibility. It is best to apply online; the system is available 24/7 (https://reemployme.maine.gov/).
  • MDOL has waived the work search requirement through May 14, consistent with the current duration of the temporary emergency unemployment insurance provisions signed by the Governor.
  • After the initial week that you file a claim, you must continue to file on a weekly basis.
  • The new measures are not intended to provide sick leave or short-term disability payments.
  • The waiting week has been waived as a result of the new UI legislation. If your account indicates that you have a waiting week, don’t worry, ignore it. The system is being updated to reflect the new changes.
  • If your work was affected by COVID-19 the week of March 15 but you have been unable to file your claim for unemployment benefits yet, your initial claim will be accepted through the week of March 23. If eligible, you will not lose the previous weeks’ benefits.
  • The UI system allows two attempts to enter a password correctly; if you try a 3rd time your account will be locked. If you are unsure of your password (or have already tried twice), use “Forgot Password” link. A new temporary password will be generated and sent to the email address on file in your account. If you are locked out due to an incorrect password, CareerCenter staff can help you reset it: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov/locations/index.shtml
  • If you live in Maine but work in a different state, and need to apply for unemployment, you apply in the state where your employer is located.
  • If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, you can call 1-800-593-7660 between 8 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • The Department recommends filing a claim on a computer, rather than a cellphone.

UI Claims can be filed online or by phone at:  https://reemployme.maine.gov/ or 1-800-593-7660.  The Department provides unemployment filing free of charge; individuals should never be asked to pay a fee to file a claim. Maine Department of Labor (Department)’s Unemployment Insurance Program provides partial wage replacement for workers who experience job layoff, loss or reduction in hours through no fault of their own. Those applying must be able and available and looking for work. Governor Mills’ emergency COVID-19 legislation, signed into law March 18, enacted temporary measures will help relieve the financial burden of temporary layoffs, isolation, and medically-necessary quarantine created by COVID-19 by making unemployment benefits available to individuals who would have otherwise been able and available to work and who maintain contact with their employers. Anyone who has filed for unemployment benefits on or after March 15 will be reviewed under these new temporary measures.

For more information and resources, visit the Department’s COVID-19 page: https://www.maine.gov/labor/covid19/, and follow the Maine Department of Labor on Facebook @MElabor and Twitter @maine_labor

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