AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Labor began accepting applications Thursday for a new unemployment insurance program providing $100 weekly to workers who were both self-employed and working a traditional job prior to the pandemic.
The Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation Program, which was created as part of a December coronavirus relief bill, aims to help workers whose wages are not fully accounted for by regular state unemployment benefits. The program covers weeks from January of this year through early September, with claimants allowed to file retroactively.
Claimants are eligible if they are currently receiving state unemployment benefits or were during any weeks the program covers. Workers will have to prove that they received at least $5,000 in net income from self-employment in 2019 or 2020, depending on when their initial unemployment claim was filed.
The $100 weekly benefit, paid by the federal government, comes in addition to $300 per week that all unemployed workers are currently receiving under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. Eligible workers can apply online through Maine’s unemployment portal.
As of last week, nearly 44,000 Maine workers were receiving unemployment benefits, although about 70 percent were receiving federal, not state, benefits. Many workers who initially filed state unemployment claims have been shifted onto federal programs after exhausting state-level benefits.
States had to opt in to the new program, with all but two states — Idaho and South Dakota — choosing to participate, according to Mixed Earners, an advocacy group. A handful of states began paying the additional benefit to eligible workers in March, according to CNBC, but others, including Vermont, are still working to implement the program.