AUGUSTA — After receiving an unprecedented number of unemployment claims due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Maine Department of Labor has instituted a new alphabetical-by-last-name call-in schedule for Maine people filing for unemployment benefits. The new schedule will help reduce phone line congestion as the Department ramps up its capacity to receive and process claims.
Starting Monday, April 6, Maine people seeking to file for unemployment by calling the 800 number with last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday; I-Q on Tuesday; R-Z on Wednesday.
"While we hope to have 100 more people answering the phone lines by the end of next week, implementing this new system will ease congestion on our phone lines in the meantime," said Commissioner Laura Fortman, in a news release..” This is an easy way for individuals to take action to improve access for everyone. We are all in this together and we appreciate your help as we navigate these unprecedented times.”
The recently enacted federal CARES Act includes new temporary unemployment programs to provide additional relief to people affected by COVID-19.
At the direction of the Governor, Maine has opted in to the new programs. However, MDOL requires guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor in order to implement the new programs.
“MDOL continues to press for that guidance and once it is received, will implement the system changes,” the release said. “Claims filed will be processed retroactively to the dates in the law.”
Until then, the Department urges Maine people who would be eligible under these programs to wait to file until they are in place. Filing now will result in a denial of benefits when those applying, in fact, deserve the benefit, the release said.
MDOL wants every Mainer to receive the benefits for which they are eligible during this difficult time. MDOL posts all information as it is received on its social media pages and website and Maine people are encouraged to view those pages for updates.
Unemployment insurance: Online (available 24/7) at https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/
By phone: 1-800-593-7660 (8 a.m.-12:15 p.m.)
For password resets and basic questions, contact a Career Center: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov/locations/index.shtml
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.