Maine Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Maine unemployment benefits provide essential financial support for people who are out of work. Find out how to apply for benefits and how much you'll receive.

Finding yourself out of work can be stressful, but you might be entitled to support to help you meet your financial obligations. The Maine Department of Labor issues unemployment benefits to people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own and meet the state's monetary and non-monetary criteria. Understanding how Maine unemployment benefits work and how to apply can make it easier to get help when you need it most.

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Maine?

You'll need to fulfill various monetary and non-monetary criteria to receive unemployment benefits in Maine. Successful applicants must also meet ongoing criteria to retain their benefits entitlement.

Reasons for Job Separation

You can only claim unemployment benefits in Maine if you're out of work through no fault of your own. In practice, this means you're unlikely to qualify if you're fired, leave voluntarily without good reason or refuse to have a COVID-19 vaccination as required by your employer's health and safety policy. You can't claim unemployment benefits if you're unemployed due to sickness. 

You may be eligible for Maine unemployment benefits if:

  • Your employer laid you off or reduced your hours due to a lack of work
  • You left your job to accept a new role, which subsequently fell through
  • You need to relocate because of your spouse's job
  • You quit your job to escape domestic abuse or protect an immediate family member from abuse

Base Period Earnings

Maine uses a different base period than most other states. The base period is the last five completed calendar quarters before your claim, and your earnings must meet a certain threshold to qualify. The monetary eligibility criteria to receive unemployment benefits in Maine are:

  • Earnings of at least $1,700 per quarter in a minimum of two base period quarters
  • Total earnings equal to or exceeding $5,600 over any four base period quarters

Maintaining Eligibility

You could lose your entitlement to Maine unemployment benefits if you don't search for work while you're receiving payments. Claimants must register online for re-employment services with Maine JobLink, and you can get support with your job search at your local Maine CareerCenter. The Department of Labor requires benefits recipients to complete and log at least one re-employment activity per week. However, it may issue a work search waiver in the following circumstances:

  • Your employer will recall you to work within six weeks
  • You've accepted a full-time job commencing within two weeks
  • You enroll in approved training

You can only claim unemployment benefits if you are ready and able to work, so your weekly payments may be reduced if you can't work on certain days. For example, lack of childcare or transportation could affect your ability to work and impact your payments. 

Refusing a suitable offer of work or a job referral from a Maine CareerCenter could disqualify you from future benefits payments. To accept a referral, you must contact the employer and schedule an interview. If you believe a position or referral is unsuitable and wish to refuse it, you should give a detailed reason why in your weekly claim.

Generally, a suitable position offers equivalent pay and conditions to your previous roles in an industry that fits your qualifications and experience. However, you may be required to accept a less suitable role if you're unemployed for 10 weeks or longer and the job pays the average weekly wage in Maine or higher.

How Do You Apply for Maine Unemployment Benefits?

The most straightforward way to file an initial application for Maine unemployment benefits is to set up a ReEmployME account on the Maine Department of Labor website. Sign in to your account and follow the on-screen instructions to submit your claim. 

Alternatively, you can file over the phone by dialing 1-800-593-7660. The Department of Labor recommends calling on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday to avoid long waiting times. Online and phone applicants must provide their Social Security number and an 18-month work history. 

You must also file a weekly claim through your ReEmployME account or by phone for every week you receive payments. If your claim is 14 days late or longer, you'll need to reopen your claim, and your benefits may be affected. You should report any income earned and any re-employment activities you carried out in your claim.

How Much Do You Get From Maine Unemployment?

If your application is successful, you'll receive a weekly payment of the average earnings of your two highest-paid quarters, divided by 22. The minimum weekly benefit amount awarded is $89, and you can't receive more than the state maximum of $511 per week, even if your earnings calculation gives a higher total. Payments can be made via direct deposit into your bank account or to a debit card, depending on your preference.

In addition to a weekly benefit amount, the Department of Labor will calculate a maximum benefit amount. This is the total amount you can receive over the benefit year and is 26 times your weekly benefit amount or 1/3 of your base period income, whichever is lower.

If you have dependents, your weekly benefit amount will increase by $10 per dependent. Payments for dependents are capped at 50% of your weekly benefit amount. 

You can receive Maine unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks per year, and you don't need to claim these weeks in a consecutive block. Some people will qualify for fewer weeks, depending on their base period earnings.

Any earnings you receive in excess of $100 per week will affect your weekly benefit amount. If your weekly earnings exceed your weekly benefit amount by $5 or more, you won't receive a payment.

What Happens if Unemployment Claims in Maine Are Denied?

The Department of Labor will send you a notice if it decides you're ineligible for benefits. You can appeal your disqualification if you disagree, and successful applicants also have the right to appeal their monetary determination. 

You should submit your appeal no later than 15 days after the date on your determination letter. The department may allow an extra 15 days at its discretion if you have a valid reason for appealing late. You can lodge an appeal online through your ReEmployME account, by phone at (207) 621-5001 or in writing to:

Division of Administrative Hearings
30 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0030

Alternatively, you can present your appeal letter in person at your local Maine CareerCenter. You will then receive a letter with an appointment time for your appeal hearing. Most hearings are conducted by telephone, although you may be asked to attend an in-person meeting. 

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