Recipients of federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Maine now can upload their tax documents online to determine whether they are eligible for additional, retroactive benefits, the Maine Department of Labor said Tuesday.

Many Maine participants in the emergency federal jobless aid program have been receiving the minimum weekly benefit of about $170 because the labor department has no tax history to verify their past income.

The added ability to upload income history follows the department’s move last week to begin paying retroactive benefits to eligible recipients whose claims have been automatically adjusted based on available tax documentation. About 6,000 Mainers have been found eligible for retroactive payments so far, and state officials said the adjustment process is ongoing.

“With this last piece of the federal programs now in place, those whom we cannot automatically match information for are able to upload their tax documents and receive their adjusted benefits,” Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said in a statement. “As we continue to monitor Congressional action after the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, these redeterminations provide some crucial financial relief for those eligible.”

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is one of three federal unemployment programs created in response to COVID-19. It covers workers previously ineligible for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed and contract workers, and is available through the week ending Dec. 26.

Maine implemented the federal assistance program in May with all eligible claimants receiving the minimum weekly state benefit of $172 plus an additional $600 per week in federal assistance, but eligibility for the $600 payments ended July 25.

Recipients whose gross wages in 2019 were below $15,224 will continue to receive the minimum benefit of $172 a week and do not need to upload any information, the labor department said. Those with higher earnings are eligible for a maximum weekly benefit of up to $445 or $462, depending on whether their claim was filed before or after June 1.

The department said it is currently contacting by mail and email claimants whose income history could not be matched automatically, and providing them instructions on how to upload the income information.

Guides on how to upload the information also can be found on the department’s website at maine.gov/unemployment.


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