BANGOR – As companies are closing and COVID-19 is spreading across the state, the rate of unemployment applications is increasing dramatically. That’s according to Laura Fortman, the commissioner at the Maine Department of Labor.
Fortman said with the increase, they have a backlog of people trying to apply through the phone. She’s encouraging workers to apply online.
“In order to apply you need some information up front. Obviously your name, your social security number, the name of your employer or employers over the last 15 months,” Fortman said.
This application can be found at mainecareercenter.gov. Those who don’t have internet access at this time can call, but online is recommended, she said.
How do you know if you qualify for unemployment?
“So there’s a monetary eligibility requirement,” Fortman said. “You have to have lost your job for no fault of your own and we’re hearing lots of closings here so we understand that.”
Fortman said because of the pandemic, emergency legislation was put into place so the Maine Department of Labor can be more flexible.
Right now, according to Fortman, the work search requirement is waived and you don’t have to wait one week before filing.
For those of you who may be sick with coronavirus, Fortman said you won’t be eligible.
“If you are sick and you are home because you’re sick you’re not eligible for unemployment insurance,” she said.
Fortman encouraged those who are unsure to apply online anyways.
If you do get approved, benefits take from 10 days up to two weeks to receive.
Also, Fortman said recipients must continue to file until they return to work.
“It’s not a one and done situation. It’s every week you are unemployed you need to file for that week,” Fortman said.
“We’re encouraging people, if you filed last week and submitted your initial claim, this week you also need to file but it’s much shorter. It’s about five questions you need to answer on a weekly basis,” she said.