(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and the Maryland congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony G. Brown, and David Trone. are calling on Governor Larry Hogan to fix Maryland’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim system and improve delivery of critical financial insurance benefits to Marylanders still struggling during this public health emergency.
“We have previously weighed in with both the U.S. Department of Labor and your administration to urge you to address a myriad of problems preventing or delaying workers getting their benefits,” the lawmakers wrote Tuesday. “We continue to hear from many constituents every day who are encountering problems, and that are, apparently, far from resolved. Some of these problems include errors processing weekly certifications, performance of the state’s BEACON online system, and inaccurate denials of benefits.”
The delegation added: “Our offices have complied with the Department’s request to send daily reports to designated points of contact with information for constituents who have contacted us. The Department in turn has not provided clear information on when the constituents will be contacted, and what the average turnaround time is for completion of these inquiries. We are left unable to effectively respond to our constituents because the Department has been deficient in providing this information.”
They concluded: “In order to better coordinate the work by the federal and state governments, we ask that Secretary of Labor Robinson immediately assign a staff member to be the liaison to our delegation and task this individual with the responsibility of sending timely responses to, and resolutions of, Congressional casework received by the Maryland Department of Labor.”
The unemployment insurance (UI) program is an extremely important federal-state partnership for the people of Maryland and the nation, which involves the collection of billions of dollars of federal and state unemployment insurance taxes. The UI provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act include expanded benefit eligibility to workers not otherwise covered by UI, such as the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers; a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits; and a $600 increase in weekly unemployment benefits.
The full letter can be found here.