(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today wrote to Governor Larry Hogan to communicate concerns that have been persistently raised by his constituents attempting to access unemployment insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rep. Raskin wrote: “The most common complaints I hear are from Marylanders who have found it nearly impossible to get any sort of response from Maryland Department of Labor (MDL) – via phone or email – when they have a problem with their unemployment claim. Although the online benefits portal, BEACON, has been advertised as a one-stop-shop for unemployment claims, the reality is that there are dozens of scenarios in which our constituents have no choice but to contact MDL by phone or email in order to resolve their claims. Marylanders have to contact MDL when their claim is erroneously denied; when they are incorrectly deemed ineligible – a common occurrence for sole proprietors who are informed (via U.S. mail or in the BEACON portal) that they are ineligible and instructed to call MDL without any further explanation; when they have waited days or even weeks to receive their benefits, even after their claims have been approved; and when they are unable to log-in to the online portal because BEACON doesn’t recognize their information, because they filed for unemployment assistance prior to BEACON’s implementation, because BEACON is unable to handle the high volume of visitors to the site, or because of some other system failure or technical glitch.”
Rep. Raskin continues: “I know that you and your team are working hard to process the massive influx of unemployment claims generated by this crisis, but I believe more has to be done – and quickly – to help Marylanders survive this pandemic and mitigate the financial fallout from COVID-19. Congress recognized this reality back in March, when we passed the CARES Act – emergency legislation that expanded unemployment assistance around the country and provided new federal funds to help bolster states’ unemployment insurance systems. I respectfully request that you reevaluate your staffing levels in an effort to increase responsiveness to constituents. We need to help Marylanders get the funds they need during this difficult time.”
A copy of the letter is available here.