Claiming Benefits for Unemployment in Maine
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In Maine, federal unemployment benefits help support unemployed workers financially as they seek new employment. The amount of financial assistance you receive will depend on your past earnings, but will usually amount to less than your previous salary.
Before you claim unemployment benefits in Maine, you should review the following information:
- How to claim unemployment benefits in Maine
- How to calculate your federal unemployment benefits
- Maine unemployment benefits and federal income taxes
- Continued unemployment eligibility in Maine
Maine Unemployment Resources
How to claim unemployment benefits in Maine
When you file an unemployment benefits claim in ME, the state will determine the amount of assistance you are entitled to by examining the wages you earned during a “base period.” The state divides years into three-month intervals, or quarters, and a regular base period consists of the wages you earned during the last four to five quarters. If you did not receive a sufficient amount to qualify for unemployment, your earnings during the “alternate” base period will be examined. This period consists of the last four quarters of work before you filed an initial claim. For example, if you claim unemployment benefits in March of this year, the base period would consist of the time between February of last year and January of this year.
The state may send you a letter stating that you did not earn enough income to claim unemployment benefits. If this occurs, a re-determination of benefits will be sent to you, and you will receive this new amount until the Department of Labor fully examines your earnings during the alternate base period. You will still need to file a weekly unemployment benefits claim in Maine until your information is processed. Once your new amount is determined, the state will send you a final letter.
How to calculate your federal unemployment benefits
Calculating your federal unemployment benefits in Maine is relatively simple. Each state establishes a different minimum wage amount, which is the lowest amount of money you could have earned to be eligible for benefits. In order for a Maine worker to be “monetarily eligible” for benefits, he or she must have:
- Earned at least twice the amount of the average weekly wage in Maine for at least two calendar quarters during the corresponding base period.
- Earned at least six times the annual average weekly income throughout the entire base period.
If you meet these standards, you will receive a Monetary Determination letter shortly after your ME unemployment benefits claim is reviewed. This letter will show the weekly benefit amount that you are entitled to, as well as the maximum amount of aid that you can be paid during the calendar year. The state recommends that all workers read this letter carefully, and swiftly report any errors or missing information to the Department of Labor. If certain wages have not been taken into consideration, you will need to provide the state with proof before a correction can be made.
When reviewing your ME unemployment benefits claim, the government will only consider wages earned from a “subject employer” when calculating your monetary determination. A subject employer is an employer who pays into the state unemployment fund or who holds a liability for your benefits. The vast majority of employers, including state and federal employers, fall into this category. The government will notify you if your employer failed to pay unemployment taxes. If you earned wages in another state during the regular or alternate base period, you will need to file an interstate claim. If you are currently entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, those payments will be taken into consideration in regards to your monetary determination.
The state limits the amount of federal unemployment benefits that you can receive. Your weekly benefit amount limit is calculated by taking your average income during the two highest quarters of your regular base period and dividing that number by 22. The maximum amount of unemployment that you can receive in a year is calculated by multiplying your weekly benefit amount by 26, or one-third of your base period income. If you exceed this aid limit, you will have to wait until the next calendar year to file another claim. A Maine unemployment benefits extension may also be available in certain cases.
Maine Unemployment Benefits and Federal Income Taxes
If you are claiming benefits for unemployment in ME, you will need to report your weekly benefit amounts on your state and federal taxes. If you fail to do this, you could end up owing money to the government. You can opt to pay estimated quarterly taxes, or you can request that they government withhold a certain percentage of your benefits each week. If you are claiming benefits for unemployment, and it is important to remember that the state will not automatically withhold funds from your weekly benefits. When it is time to file your taxes, you should utilize the IRS 1099G.
Continued Unemployment Eligibility in Maine
To remain eligible for federal unemployment benefits in ME, you must continue to look for work, meet the general eligibility criteria, and file a claim each week. You must also register for work before you file your initial claim. You will not receive benefits for any week that you fail to meet the eligibility criteria or report at least three job contacts.