Mainers who have exhausted their unemployment benefits may get a months-long extension under a state program rolling out this week that will boost eligibility up to a full year.

The state’s extended benefits program will provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits for jobless residents who have run out of aid, the Maine Department of Labor said Monday.

In normal times, unemployed Mainers can claim benefits for up to 26 consecutive weeks – about six months. The federal CARES Act, passed in March, includes a federally funded 13-week extension of benefits, which was made available in Maine almost two months ago. That provision stretched eligibility up to 39 weeks.

The state program would prolong benefits even further – up to 52 weeks – as the state and country go through one of the most severe recessions the last 100 years. Maine’s unemployment rate in July was about 10 percent, the highest monthly rate in more than four decades.

State Extended Benefits is an existing program under state and federal statutes that is paid for by the federal government under emergency legislation passed this spring, Department of Labor spokeswoman Jessica Picard said.

The state is authorized to implement extended unemployment insurance benefits once the jobless rate for those covered by the insurance program averages 5 percent or higher over a 13-week period and is at least 120 percent higher than the average rate over the same period of the previous two years, she said.

Maine hit those thresholds in early May. The last time unemployment conditions triggered extended benefits in Maine was in 2008.

However, federal requirements stipulate that the extended federal unemployment benefits have to be paid out before states implement their own extended benefits, Picard said.

“Now that some claimants are exhausting their (federal) benefits, the department has implemented extended benefits,” she said.

The average duration each claimant had received jobless benefits in June was about 10 weeks, according to the department. Almost 1,350 claimants exhausted their benefits that month, it reported.

Mainers who have run out of benefits do not need to take any action to receive an extension, the labor department said.

But claimants who receive benefits under a federal program for contract, self-employed and other non-payroll workers, who are not eligible for state unemployment insurance, will not be able to access the state extension, Picard said.

The federal program, called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, provided 39 weeks of benefits. Almost 25,200 unemployed Mainers on federal aid filed continuing claims, also known as weekly certifications, in the second week of August.

Mainers on state unemployment benefits received an average weekly payment of just under $300 in June, according to the labor department. An additional $600-per-week benefit funded by the CARES Act expired at the end of July.

Maine has said it will apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to temporarily provide $300 per week in added benefits to those filing unemployment claims, which would have to be matched with $100 a week in state funds. Still, that program only has enough funding to last a few weeks.

Between March 15 and Aug. 15, the Maine Department of Labor paid out about $1.38 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits, it said Thursday.

The department has handled roughly 181,000 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 84,400 initial claims for the federal assistance program. There have been about 2.1 million continuing claims filed during the five-month period, it said.

The department said it continues to review all claims carefully as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud, when a person’s personal information is stolen and used to illegally apply for jobless benefits. Last week, the department canceled about 575 initial claims and 60 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent. Maine is one of many states working with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent unemployment imposter fraud.

Tens of thousands of fraudulent claims have been canceled since the pandemic began.

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