The Maine Department of Labor plans to announce a timeline Tuesday for processing jobless benefits from newly eligible Mainers who are self-employed, contractors or otherwise do not qualify for normal unemployment compensation.

At least 10 states have implemented Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for uninsured workers, created by the federal CARES Act passed in late March. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont already are accepting applications through the program.

Maine is still waiting for the federal Department of Labor to issue guidance on matters such as a timeline for income verification, status changes that may trigger someone on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to become eligible for normal benefits, and how previous denials of benefits affect claimants under the new system.

“The clarity of this guidance will ultimately reduce errors and avoid the need to recover overpayments later,” said department spokeswoman Jessica Picard.

There is no issue with the state’s online system; it is not holding up program implementation, Picard added.

“Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a completely new federal program with different eligibility requirements than regular state unemployment,” she said.

States typically have a baseline of employment records for workers eligible for traditional unemployment benefits. They need a brand new system to determine income and eligibility for self-employed people, contractors and so-called “gig” workers.

“We are working to streamline and automate the process so that claimants can receive benefits as quickly and accurately as possible,” Picard said. “While some states may be taking applications, only about 10 states are actually paying claims for (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) at this time, a rank we plan to join very soon, based on the timeline we will be announcing very shortly.”

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