July 21, 2019
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DHHS lays off 56 employees, closes disability benefits office because of federal government shutdown

AUGUSTA, Maine — All employees at a disability services office in Winthrop and four more in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services were laid off Monday as a result of the federal government shutdown, Gov. Paul LePage announced Monday evening.

The 52 employees at the DHHS Disability Determination Office in Winthrop make Social Security disability determinations on behalf of the federal government, but will be furloughed until Congress and President Barack Obama can end a political stalemate that has kept the federal government closed for the past week. Employees were notified on Monday and the layoffs were effective immediately, said LePage in a media release. The Disability Determination Office in Winthrop will be closed until further notice.

In addition, the state notified four other DHHS employees that they have been laid off, including two in the Office of Aging and Disability Services, one in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and one in the Office for Family Independence.

All of the affected positions are 100 percent federally funded.

“The state of Maine has no choice but to suspend operation of disability determination because it relies solely on federal funding,” said LePage. “This is just one of the many difficult situations we must address as the federal shutdown in Washington continues with no immediate resolution in sight.”

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