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Labor commissioner to announce applications for the self-employed

More than 100,000 Mainers have signed up for unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 coronavirus hit in March

AUGUSTA, Maine — After weeks of frustration over unemployment benefits, Maine’s self-employed workers who are out of work will finally be able to take the first step to getting financial help. 

Laura Fortman, Maine’s Commissioner of Labor, said Friday that she will announce the start of applications for benefits next week.

More than 100,000 Mainers have signed up for unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 coronavirus hit in March. Many have gotten benefits but there are 1,000 of self-employed people who have not, despite the fact that Congress passed special funding for that purpose, called the Pandemic Assistance Program. 

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But Fortman said it has taken many weeks for the federal government to provide the needed guidance for how to implement the program—essential because self-employed people have never been eligible for benefits before.

“The statute says you have to lose job thru no fault of your own, you must be available to work willing to work and able to work,” Fortman told the daily CDC briefing. 

“How will we cover self-employed? How do we determine if they are able, ready, and willing to work? We need clarification [from the federal government] at the same time we are being told to get this up as quickly as possible.”

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