COVID-19 Financial Resources

Note the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) closed on August 8th, 2020 but the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs have received a second round of funding. EIDL loan applications are now being accepted.

Federal Stimulus Overview:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. There are several programs which provide financial relief to small businesses, including sole-proprietors, contractors and self-employed. Maine lobstermen, sternmen and fishing businesses should not wait to apply for these benefits.

Every lobstering business is unique, so each lobsterman must assess which programs are the best fit for your business. However, to maximize your overall benefits, the MLA recommends you explore the benefits in this order:

  1. SBA loans. These forgivable loans will enable you to continue to get paid and cover some of the operating expenses of your business for 8 weeks. These loans include Paycheck Protection Loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. You do not have to pay these loans back as long as you meet the terms of the loan.
  2. Unemployment Benefits. If you are not able to earn an income after this 8 week period, you will still be eligible to apply for unemployment. These benefits have been expanded to include self-employed and contractors and the benefit has been increased by $600/week above the base payment calculated by your previous earnings.
  3. Small Business Relief through the Finance Authority of Maine. The state of Maine created several loan programs to help consumers and Maine businesses impacted by COVID-19.
  4. NOAA Fisheries Disaster Relief. You may be eligible for additional benefits under this program. The details of this program are under development and it will likely be administered through the state.
  5. Stimulus Checks. Everyone earning less than $75,000 will automatically receive $1,200, plus, $500 per child. Those earning between $75,000-$99,000 will receive a pro-rated amount.

SBA (Small Business Association) COVID-19 Loans

Congress created several new loan programs through the U.S. Small Business Administration to support small businesses that you do not need to pay back. These loan programs were co-authored by Senator Collins through the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act. These include the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), Debt Relief, and Express Bridge loans. Borrowers may apply for more than one loan, as long as each loan is used for a different purpose. 

Paycheck Protection Program Loans

The Paycheck Protection Program closed August 8th, 2020

The Paycheck Protection Program is providing $670 billion in relief to small businesses. The funding was provided in two cycles with initial funding of $350 billion, supplemented with an additional $320 billion. Applications for the second round of funding opened on April 27. Loan applications closed on June 30, 2020.

The Paycheck Protection Loan program (PPP) is available to small businesses, sole-proprietors, contractors and self-employed persons. The purpose of this program is to allow businesses to continue to pay workers, whether the business is operating or not. Therefore, the provides funds to pay yourself and your employees for up to 8 weeks. You do not need to run payroll to qualify for this program. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans

On April 24, the EIDL program received an additional $60 billion in funding (including $50 billion for loans and $10 billion for grants).

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans, for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19. EIDL loans provide an emergency cash advance of $1,000 per worker, up to a maximum of $10,000, that you do not need to pay back. (The cash advance is no longer available. 10/14/20) These loans are for working capital which includes fixed debts, payroll (unless that is covered through a PPP loan), accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid due to the disaster’s impact. It does not cover lost sales.

  • Apply for SBA EIDL loan online here
  • Visit the SBA COVID-19 website for info on EIDL loans here
  • Read the Maine Small Business Development Centers excellent overview of this loan program here

SBA Debt Relief and Bridge Loans

The SBA is offering debt relief on SBA loans by paying the principal and interest on any new SBA loans issued before September 27, 2020. The SBA will pay the principal and interest on current loans for a period of 6 months.

The SBA is offering Express Bridge Loans for those who currently have a business relationship with an SBA express lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans will be repaid in full or in part by the EIDL loan program.


Expanded and Increased Unemployment

Maine Dept of Labor began accepting applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) on May 1.

PUA was created through the federal CARES Act and provides up to 39 weeks of benefits through December 26, 2020

Big news…. lobstermen and sternmen are eligible for unemployment benefits! Unemployment has been expanded to include self-employed, 1099 contractors, sole proprietors and part-time workers through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). For self-employed persons who file for unemployment, your base benefit amount will be calculated based on your previous earnings. Unlike the PPP program, you still qualify if you experienced a loss in 2019. Anyone who qualifies for PUA will receive $600/week in addition to your base benefit.

To apply for PUA, Maine Dept of Labor advises that you do the following:

  • Create a ReEmployME account
  • Verify your email address in ReEmployME – click on the Benefit Maintenance menu and follow the instructions to receive a confirming email
  • Sign up for direct deposit – also through the Benefit Maintenance menu. This is faster than the debit card option
  • File your PUA claim – through the Unemployment Claim menu
  • File your weekly certification for any weeks after your loss of employment
  • Continue filing your weekly certification every week

Important information to help you understand PUA benefits:

  • To qualify, your claim must be due to a loss of income as a result of the pandemic.
  • Applicants for PUA do not need to meet minimum income criteria. If your business showed a loss in 2019 you can still qualify for the minimum weekly benefit of $172/week plus $600 in federal pandemic assistance ($772 per week).
  • If you showed earnings in 2019, the PUA benefit maxes out at $35,000/year which translates to $445/week for your base benefit plus $600 in federal pandemic assistance ($1,045).
  • If you earn less than $35,000, your weekly base benefit will range between $172 and $445 and you will receive the additional $600 federal pandemic benefit.
  • The $600 week additional federal pandemic benefit ends on July 25.
  • If you file for PUA, the benefits can be retroactive to March 15. If you experienced a loss of income due to COVID before then, you would need to open a case which would involve fact finding.
  • There is no “work search” requirement to receive PUA benefits through the end of May. However, if work becomes available to you, you are required to take it.
  • You can receive partial PUA benefits. Since you certify your income each week, you simply don’t get a PUA check if you earned income in any given week. If you earn income, but it is less than your base benefit, you would get a reduced pro-rated benefit. This means you can do both the PPP program and PUA program.
  • If you received a W-2 for any reason in 2019, MDOL advises you to apply for the regular state unemployment and not the PUA unemployment program.

Can you Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) & Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?

  • Yes! As long as you do not use the proceeds from the EIDL to pay yourself for any week you are being paid through PUA.
  • The standard is that you don’t use funds from more than one program to cover the same expense. No double dipping!

Can you do Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) & Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?

  • Yes! You can take advantage of the PPP (paycheck protection program) and PUA benefits at the same time, as long as you are not getting paid from both for the same week. No double dipping.
  • You can receive partial PUA benefits. Since you certify your income each week, you simply don’t get a PUA check if you earned income in any given week. If you earn income, but it is less than your base benefit, you would get a reduced pro-rated benefit.
  • This allows you to be paid through your PPP loan for 8 weeks, or to earn income sporadically while you are participating in the unemployment program.
  • MDOL will know which weeks those are because you are required to file a certification with them on a weekly basis. If you have no earnings in any given week, you receive your unemployment benefit. If you do have earnings in any given week, you will not receive unemployment for that week.
  • For example, if your PPP money is paying you beginning April 1, you could receive the unemployment benefit for the 2 weeks prior, beginning March 15. You would file your weekly certification with MDOL showing that you are receiving PPP income beginning April 1 for the next 8 weeks. When PPP income is exhausted, your weekly filing with MDOL would reflect no income and your PUA benefit would resume.

Once you apply, MDOL advises:

  • Do NOT submit documentations such as your 2019 taxes right away.
  • MDOL will reach out to you in late May via email to request your documentation. Sending it in before then will only delay your benefits and slow the system.
  • If you qualify, MDOL will start issuing an initial weekly benefit of $172 plus the $600 federal benefit; likely within 7 days. This will be adjusted later once your base benefit is calculated.
  • Be sure to set up direct deposit since that is the fastest way to get paid.
  • You must file a weekly certification, whether or not you have earnings to report for that week.
  • If you earn income in any given week, you would not receive your PUA benefit for that week. If you earned less than your base unemployment benefit in any given week, you would receive a reduced benefit for that week. You only receive PUA benefits during the week’s that you have no other earnings.

Stay in touch with Maine Dept of Labor

For more information on the pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA), visit the MDOL website….

To apply for unemployment, click this link… or call 1-800-593-7660 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday-Friday

For password resets and basic questions through a Career Center, click this link….

For more information and resources, visit the Department’s COVID-19 page…

Follow the Maine Department of Labor on Facebook @MElabor and Twitter @maine_labor.


Federal Fisheries Disaster Relief Program

According to NOAA Fisheries, “Section 12005 of the CARES Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to provide $300 million in appropriated funds to assist fishery participants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID–19). NOAA Fisheries understands the urgent need for these funds, and our overriding goal is to distribute the assistance as quickly as possible. To that end, we are working daily with the Department and our federal partners to finalize a process to expedite the distribution of Sec. 12005 funds, consistent with the direction provided by Congress. “

The stimulus includes a stand-alone provision with $300 million dedicated to help fishermen around the country struggling due to disappearing economic markets caused by COVID-19, available until 9/30/2021.
Summary of this program:

  • NOAA Fisheries is working to develop the criteria for this program. The funds will be shared among states.
  • Available to commercial, charter and tribal subsistence fishery participants; which includes individuals, fishing communities, aquaculture businesses, processors or other fishery-related businesses.
  • Must show revenue losses incurred as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus pandemic of at least 35% relative to prior 5-year average revenue.
  • Funds may be awarded on a rolling basis, and within a fishing season, to ensure rapid delivery of funds.

NOAA Fisheries COVID-19 Update is here….
NOAA Fisheries Disaster Assistance program is here…

Update from Maine DMR September 29th, 2020 Regarding the Fisheries Disaster Money

CARES Act
Negotiations with NOAA on our CARES Act spend plan have finally been completed. To prevent individual harvesters from having to go through the difficult and time-consuming process of verifying their eligibility to apply for the relief funds based on the criteria that their 2020 revenue loss exceeded 35 percent of the previous five-year average, I had our Landings program complete this work. For other segments of the industry, such as recreational fishing guides, wholesale dealers, and aquaculture operations, it will be up to the individual or business as we don’t have the necessary information to make the loss determination.
Soon, we will be reaching out to you by mail and email with information on the application process. We will let harvesters know if our records indicate that they have experienced the required revenue loss, or if they show that they haven’t. If our landings data shows a harvester hasn’t experienced the required loss of revenue and are therefore ineligible, they’ll be able to appeal that finding as part of the application process.
Commissioner Pat Keliher


Stimulus checks to individuals

Your payment will be based upon your adjusted gross income (line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax return). If you have not filed your 2019 taxes, the IRS will refer to your 2018 return. Alternatively, a 2019 social security statement showing your income can be used.

  • Adults earning $75,000 or less will receive a check for $1200
  • Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less receive $2.400
  • For each qualifying child age 16 or under, add $500
  • Payment decreases for those earning more than $75,000 up to $99,000.
  • If you earn more than $99,000, you will not receive a check
  • If you are a college student, but your parents claim you as a dependent, you will not receive a check
  • Those receiving social security retirement, disability, unemployment and veterans will receive checks.

According to the IRS, those without 2018 tax filings on record could potentially affect mailings of stimulus checks. The IRS will direct deposit the funds into your bank account if it is on file, or mail you a check. Payments are expected to be received within 3 weeks. Payments are not subject to income tax.


Maine-based COVID-19 Small Business Resources

Prior to the development of the large federal stimulus package, the Maine Legislature and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) acted quickly to put several loan programs in place to support consumers and small businesses.

The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) is offering loan programs to eligible Maine businesses and individuals/employees who experience hardships due to COVID-19.

  • COVID-19 Relief Consumer Loan Program provides no-to low-interest consumer loans of up to $5,000 (minus any unemployment benefits received by borrower) through a loan guarantee program involving Maine’s banks, credit unions, and FAME. Interested borrowers should contact their local bank or credit union (not FAME) to see if the lender is offering this program and to apply. A borrower may apply for up to three (3) loans, one per each 30-day period.
  • COVID-19 Relief Business Direct Loan Program provides FAME Direct Loans of up to $50,000 with special terms available to Maine-based businesses experiencing interruption or hardship due to COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Relief Interim SBA Finance Loan Program provides FAME Direct Loans of up to $100,000 with special terms available to eligible borrowers who provide proof of commitment for SBA financing. The FAME loan would be originated for use to the business owner until the SBA loan is funded. The SBA loan would then pay-off the FAME loans.
  • COVID-19 Relief Lender Insurance Program provides commercial loan insurance of 50-75% to lenders who make loans to Maine businesses experiencing interruption or hardship due to COVID-19.

More information on these and evolving programs can be found on the Maine DMR website and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development website.

Resources from the Maine Department of Commerce

Maine-Chamber_Stimulus-loans-one-pager-1

Maine-Chamber_PPP-loan-guide

Maine-Chamber_EIDL-guide

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