The Maine Department of Labor will update weekly benefit payments for those currently enrolled in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers workers previously ineligible for unemployment, such as the self-employed, and is available through the week ending December 26.

The update involves matching current tax information to individual claims to pay people their full benefit, retroactive to the date of their PUA eligibility.

To expedite payments, MDOL approved the minimum state PUA benefit of $172 per week for all those eligible for PUA, pending the matching of updated tax information. The PUA minimum benefit amount is federally required to be half of the state’s average weekly benefit.

Self-employed individuals whose net income was below $15,224 — or other PUA 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. Individuals with higher earnings are eligible for a maximum benefit under the program of up to $445 or $462 per week, depending on whether their claim was filed before or after June 1.

Updating the state benefit amounts with tax information will occur in two phases:

Phase 1: MDOL is now automatically matching claimants with available 2019 tax information to determine eligibility for a higher benefit amount. MDOL estimates that 60 percent of claimants will be matched automatically.

Phase 2: Any claimant whose information cannot be automatically matched will be asked to upload their supporting tax documents through their ReEmployME account. MDOL will contact these claimants through email and regular mail with instructions on how to upload the information. More information will be posted on maine.gov/unemployment.

Once redeterminations are made, claimants will receive a new monetary determination letter in the mail stating what their new benefit amount is. If retroactive benefits are due for past weeks, they will be made within 14 days of the claimant receiving their PUA redetermination letter. Claimants have the right to appeal the determination if they believe the information is not accurate.

Recipients are reminded that the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program — the additional weekly $600 — ended with benefit payments for the week ending July 25.