Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Applications for PUA will open on Friday, May 1.

4/28/2020: Department of Labor to Accept Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Applications May 1

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), created through the federal CARES Act, provides unemployment coverage for self-employed family child care providers. PUA will provide up to 39 weeks of benefits through December 26, 2020. Expanded coverage under PUA will be available to workers whose employment was affected by
COVID-19 between February 2, 2020 and December 26, 2020.

Beginning Friday, people who have been self-employed should do the following:

  • Create a ReEmployME account
  • Verify your email address in ReEmployME – click on the Benefit Maintenance menu and follow the instructions to receive a confirming email
  • Sign up for direct deposit – also through the Benefit Maintenance menu. This is faster than the debit card option
  • File your PUA claim – through the Unemployment Claim menu
  • File your weekly certification for any weeks after your loss of employment
  • Continue filing your weekly certification every week

Frequently Asked Questions on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Process:

  1. How do I file for unemployment benefits under this new program?
    A. If you have already applied for benefits and been denied due because of insufficient
    earnings, do NOT reapply. Your claim is in the system and will automatically transfer to PUA.
    Continue filing your weekly certification.
    B. If you are self-employed and you tried to file for unemployment benefits before PUA was
    launched, you must log-in to your online account and update your claim with your self-attestation of earnings. Continue filing your weekly certification.
    C. If you are self-employed and have not yet filed a claim, visit www.maine.gov/unemployment and fill out the streamlined application form for PUA. Submit your weekly certification each week thereafter.
  2. How do I “self-attest” my earnings to file as a self-employed person?
    If you are self-employed person filing for unemployment insurance under PUA, you will be
    asked to attest to the amount of your earnings for either 2018 or 2019. To expediate claims, supporting documentation of your earnings are NOT required at this time, but must be provided later. The Department will alert you when these documents need to be uploaded.
    Please Note: This program is subject to audits by the federal Office of the Inspector General, so claimants are advised to provide accurate information to the best of their ability.
  3. How soon will I receive benefit payments?
    If your PUA claim does not require further review by the unemployment program, you should begin receiving benefits in seven days or less from your initial filing.
  4. How much will I receive?
    PUA benefits start at 50% of the average weekly state unemployment benefit for self-employed and those who do not meet monetary eligibility for regular unemployment. This is $172/week. If you are self-employed, once we are able to verify documented earnings, PUA benefits will be adjusted, retroactively. The maximum benefit available under PUA is $445/week. In addition, anyone who receives a PUA benefit also receives the full $600 additional weekly benefit from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program which is available through July 25, 2020.
SELF-EMPLOYMENT DOCUMENTATION

What documentation will I need to submit for my self-employment? Because wages of people who are self-employed are not reported to the Department, documentation of earnings will be required. PUA benefits will begin in advance of this documentation – do not submit paperwork at this time. The Department will notify people who are self-employed when it is time to submit the documentation.

Listed below are sample scenarios and the documentation that will be required.

A. I owned a business in 2019 and have filed my federal tax return for 2019: 2019 Form 1040 and appropriate schedule, so Schedule C – Profit or Loss from business (sole proprietorship)

B. I owned a single business and filed my federal tax return in 2018 but have not filed my 2019 taxes: 2018 Form 1040 and appropriate schedule, so Schedule C – Profit or Loss from business (sole proprietorship)