What to know about applying
By Catherine Buxton
The Peer Workforce Navigator Team at a recent job fair, co-hosted with Gateway Community Services and the AFL-CIO
Unemployment Insurance (UI) provides a weekly payment to laid-off workers. You are likely eligible for UI if you have lost your job. Although UI will not replace the full amount of your previous salary, the average weekly benefit in Maine is $450, with an additional $25 for each child in your household.
Who is eligible?
Eligibility depends on many factors. Here are general guidelines:
- Anyone with current work authorization or extension, refugee status, residency card, or U.S. citizenship may qualify. Applying will not impact your immigration status.
- You are eligible if you lose your job due to circumstances you didn’t choose, such as a lay-off, business closure, or change of seasons for a seasonal job. If you voluntarily left your job or were fired, you may still be eligible.
- You must be physically able and available to work – and looking for work – to qualify.
- If you are in an approved training program, you can apply for a waiver and still receive benefits. PWN can help you apply.
How do I apply?
- Apply as soon as you lose your job, so you don’t miss any payments.
- Apply through the Maine Department of Labor:
- If you are good at using computers and speak English, you may apply online.
- You can also apply by phone, especially if you want a language interpreter. Call (800) 593-7600, press 2, and ask for an interpreter.
- If you are having trouble applying, you can go to a Maine CareerCenter:
§ Portland: 151 Jetport Blvd., Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
§ Lewiston: 5 Mollison Way, Thursdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
§ Augusta: 5 Commerce Dr., Mondays – Fridays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
§ For other centers: Please contact your local Maine Career Center
- Be sure you have the following information before starting your application:
o Name and birthdate
o Social Security number
o If you are not a U.S. citizen, your USCIS number
o Name, birthdate, and Social Security numbers of your children who are under 18. Do not include children who do not live with you.
o Contact information for employers in the last 18 months.
o If you would like to receive payments by direct deposit, your bank account and bank routing numbers.
- Your initial application will probably take at least 90 minutes to fill out.
What do I do after I submit my initial application?
Once you submit your initial application, you need to request your benefits by submitting a “Weekly Claim” each week you are out of work. Don’t forget to do this!
You can file this weekly claim online or by phone.
You will be asked a few questions:
Are you able to work? This means are you physically and mentally able to work?
Are you available to work? This means that if you are offered work, could you accept the job and start when asked?
To receive benefits, you must report at least one job application or job-related activity each week.
You must report any income you may have received that week, even from a small job, and even if you haven’t yet been paid.
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Pay attention to your mail or the online portal for updates, including any additional steps you may need to take. You may be asked to submit documentation, such as photos of your work permit or your ID card.
If you opted to receive your payments on a debit card, watch your mail for an unmarked envelope containing your card.
Sign up for a MaineJob Link account. This is where you can find hundreds of job openings and track your job search activity.
If you have questions or encounter issues, contact the Peer Workforce Navigator Project.
We also welcome you to join us at our in-person clinics. Appointments are strongly recommended. Hours are subject to change. Current clinics are held:
On the first and third Wednesdays of every month at Gateway Community Services, 124 Canal St., Lewiston, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
On Fridays at ProsperityME, 175 Lancaster St., Portland, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
For other locations, please contact your local Maine Career Center at https://www.mainecareercenter.com/locations/index.shtml