Good morning.  First, I’d like to offer an apology to all of you who, when encouraged to sign up for our email alerts, were told “You’ll never get more than a few emails a year from us”.  Crazy times.

A lot of us are now facing furloughs or layoffs (honestly, I’m not sure what the difference is) and are now navigating the joy that is Unemployment Benefits.

Maine has opted into the federal programs that have been created by the recent Stimulus Package, which increases benefits.

Maine’s Department of Labor has opted in to a set of temporary federal unemployment programs to provide additional relief to Mainers who have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The programs bring several benefits with them, including expanded eligibility, extended enrollment, and support. Mainers who are not covered by regular unemployment, like those who are self-employed, will be able to file under the new program.

Those who are currently enrolled in the state’s unemployment program will also receive an additional $600 per week.

State Labor Department officials warned these programs have not yet arrived in Maine, so residents who have exhausted other options or who are self employed should hold off trying to enroll for now.

Officials are encouraging people to use the state’s website to apply for benefits as much as possible. Mainers can also call 1-800-593-7660 if they do not have access to internet. Officials warn the phone line is open from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday to Friday. The queue fills up quickly but officials encourage Mainers to keep trying.

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS ARE TAXABLE.  Please be sure to opt for withholding for both Federal and State.  You won’t want to be surprised next year when you file your 2020 tax returns.