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Maryland’s Congressional Delegation seeking answers delivery of unemployment benefits

August 28th, 2021 by WCBC Radio

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), joined by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Representatives Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Andy Harris, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone, sent a letter to the Maryland Department of Labor (MDOL) pressing for answers regarding their delivery of unemployment benefits to Marylanders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and urging the agency to expedite distribution of these crucial benefits. In their letter, the members stress the importance of a timely delivery of these benefits and request MDOL to provide data on the current status of benefits, including how many Marylanders have received payments, the amount of payments disbursed, the number of claims that are currently pending, and the average turnaround time for adjudicating claims.


The members begin, “When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, Congress acted quickly to provide expanded unemployment benefits to workers and administrative funding to states charged with processing UI claims and implementing these new assistance programs. However, many of our constituents dealt with delays and were unable to access their benefits. Almost a year and half later, we continue to hear from Marylanders needing assistance who have been unable to access their benefits or get answers from the Maryland Department of Labor (MDOL).”


They continue, “While we recognize that you must balance speed with preventing fraud and ensuring program integrity, Maryland has continued to lag behind other states and the national average in its distribution of benefits. In the first and second quarters of 2021, only 50.1% of first payments were made to Marylanders in 21 days, making Maryland one of the 10 slowest states to get benefits to claimants.”


“The expanded federal UI benefits have provided a lifeline to struggling families across Maryland as they have dealt with an unprecedented crisis and faced extreme hardships. But too many Marylanders have to contend with the added hardship of struggling to access the benefits they are owed. Too many have spent hours on the phone or contacted MDOL with no response and dealt with extensive delays as they try to access the benefits they need,” the lawmakers say.


The members go on to ask MDOL to provide answers on several questions regarding the status of current benefits claims. They close the letter stating, “As the federal unemployment benefits come to a close, we urge you to take steps to expedite adjudications, provide claimants with eligibility determinations, and to prioritize providing relief to claimants who have been waiting months to receive their UI benefits. We remain committed to partnering with your department to improve our state’s UI system to ensure that Marylanders facing unemployment and economic hardships receive urgently needed relief.”