BALTIMORE — Since March 9, the Maryland Department of Labor has received more than a million new unemployment insurance claims.
SEE ALSO: A week-by-week look at Maryland unemployment claims in the age of COVID-19
To process claims covered under the CARES Act, the state decided to implement an entirely new system for all claimants.
On April 24, the state launched the BEACON One-Stop application.
WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii has received a number of questions about the process. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Why am I receiving an invalid SSN message?
If all the information doesn’t match what’s in the Social Security Administration’s databases, the system will returns an invalid SSN message. Last name is a common error as well as date of birth.
According to the Maryland Department of Labor, when this happens, the claim is flagged for review, and the claimant gets a notification to upload proof. This proof would usually consist of a copy of their SSN card. A member of their staff then has to review the claim, make the appropriate change, and approve the claim based on the new information. Until this action is complete, the claim does not move forward.
What can I do if I'm unable to reach anyone by phone or email?
Unfortunately, there's no other workaround at this time. The call center hours were extended, and the Department of Labor has hired additional staff to handle the surge in calls. In addition to the 400 employees who typically process claims, Labor partnered with a vendor to bring in 200 additional call and claim takers. They're also in the process of reassigning over 150 current state employees and hiring over 100 new unemployment insurance employees. These actions will more than double the staffing at claim centers located throughout the state.
The Department of Labor also launched a new virtual assistant on their website to help Marylanders receive answers to their most frequently asked questions about unemployment insurance benefits. The virtual assistant is in the bottom right hand corner on their site.
According to the agency, as of May 19, 2020, the Virtual Agent has handled 211,113 total sessions and 1,079,832 total messages. The Department is also expanding this functionality to their Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to allow customers using smart-phones to engage in chat sessions with the Virtual Agent while they are awaiting assistance by telephone. They are currently in the testing phase and are planning to deploy this functionality by the end of May.
The new IVR system will add additional functionalities for filing weekly certifications and resetting PINS. The Department is also expanding the IVR system’s capacity of 200 phone lines to 540 lines phone lines. However, this expansion is not going to entirely address the issue with the call volume. To address the call volume, the Department said they will continue to hire additional staff and to leverage technology, such as interfacing the Accenture IVR with the Virtual Agent and having the Accenture staff engage in human to human chat functions.
Why can't the Department of Labor use direct deposit instead of debit cards?
According to the agency, direct deposit will be available when their fully modernized UI system goes live later this year.
The Division has tried to amend its current contract with Bank of America to include digital disbursement services, but the State Treasurer’s Office was not comfortable with the terms that Bank of America presented and did not allow an amendment to the contract in the midst of a one year extension.
What should I do if I'm still waiting for a phone interview?
Hang in there. According to the Secretary of Labor, pre-pandemic cases were resolved within the 21 days, with a typical backlog under 3,000. Today’s volume is 52 times that of their pre-pandemic workload, so it may take a number of weeks for every interview to be scheduled.
Staff is also attempting to contact customers whose issues may not require a formal interview in order to reduce this backlog more quickly. These issues
may have been triggered by a claimant choosing suspension without pay, leave of absence, discharge, reporting unemployment as wages, and/or reporting last paycheck as earnings.
What if I don't see the weekly claim certification tab in BEACON?
According to a spokesperson with the Maryland Department of Labor, it may be because it is too early to submit, you are not eligible to submit a certification for that particular week because you are no longer eligible for benefits (this can happen for a variety of reasons), or a certification has already been submitted for that week. If none of these reasons apply, a claimant will have to contact Sagitec’s technical support team by emailing BEACON.email@example.com.
Why am I unable to file weekly certifications for previous weeks?
This should be fixed. On May 20, the Department of Labor tweeted that all regular unemployment insurance claimants are able to file weekly claim certifications for all prior weeks they have missed in just one session using the BEACON One-Stop. These claimants were previously limited to filing one prior week at a time.
In addition, regular unemployment insurance claimants should check their BEACON portal to see if there are new claim certification weeks available to file. If there are multiple weeks available, claimants can file them all to ensure that their claim filings are up to date.
I lost my benefits following the switch to BEACON. What happened?
This can happen for a number of reasons including difficulties confirming information with your employer, answering the new weekly claim certification questions incorrectly, or passing the deadline of your return to work date.
"That triggers a stop of their weekly payments and it triggers a need for our team to contact the employer to get something in writing from them that tells us they’re still closed and we want to extend that return to work date," said Robinson in a virtual briefing with lawmakers.
When asked why Labor doesn't do away with return to work dates, Robinson said they've reached out to employers and received feedback that many wish to keep the date, particularly essential businesses, and employers needing to keep workers on the payroll to qualify for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness.
RELATED: Secretary of Labor answers lawmakers' questions on unemployment
Can the state simplify the process by eliminating weekly claim certification questions?
No. The Secretary said these questions are mandated by the federal government.
Am I required to search for work during the pandemic?
No. There is a temporary exemption from the work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The Secretary of Labor said claimants will not be penalized for answering "no" to this question on their weekly claim certification.
Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson has also extended the waiver to the work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits to last the duration of the state of emergency, plus 30 days. The original exemption was for a 10 week period, effective 4/20/2020.
And even though the requirement is waived, you must still file a weekly claim certification in order to receive benefit payments. You may file your weekly claim certification by Internet or telephone.
When will I receive my Bank of America debit card?
According to the FAQ document on the Maryland Department of Labor’s website, it could take 7-10 business days to receive a Bank of America debit card in the mail. This debit card from Bank of America will contain benefit payments.
A common issue has been previous claimants waiting for a new debit card.
If you've received unemployment insurance benefits from the State of Maryland on a Bank of America prepaid card, the Department of Labor will continue to send funds to that existing prepaid card account.
If you no longer have that card or it has expired, you can request a new card online through the new Replace My Card tab on the bank’s website. The replacement card will be sent to the address on file with the Department of Labor.
Why was I only approved for $176 as my weekly benefit amount for PUA or PEUC?
On Monday, May 11, the Department of Labor tweeted that claimants who are determined eligible for PUA are preliminarily assigned the minimum amount of $176 as their monetary eligibility. This amount may increase after your income documentation has been reviewed, but it will not decrease.
Correspondence detailing your monetary determination will be available in your claimant portal and depending on your communication preference, may be mailed to your address as well. Payment processing should begin shortly after that.
Also, if you applied for PUA or PEUC benefits, it will initially say in your account that you have applied for Regular UI benefits. This is because in order to be eligible for CARES Act benefits, you must first be determined ineligible for Regular UI benefits per federal guidelines.
If you see that you are "Ineligible/Pending", this means that you are ineligible for Regular UI benefits, but pending for CARES Act benefits. Once you are determined eligible for PUA benefits, your program name will change from Regular UI to PUA.
Will I automatically receive the additional $600 in weekly pay from the federal government?
Yes. Everyone eligible for benefits will receive an additional $600 per week as part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program on top of current regular benefits. FPUC is effective March 29, 2020 through July 31, 2020 (last paid week ends Saturday, July 25, 2020). Your benefits will be retroactive to when you lost wages, all the way back to March 29, 2020.
NOTE: The additional $600 will not be reflected in your BEACON account, but it will be included on your debit card.
What's the best way to access the BEACON system?
On a computer, any browser should work. Mobile devices and tablets are not recommended.
On May 6, a Sagitec executive said they will be releasing a new mobile application the week of May 11 where claimants will be able to submit weekly certifications and some account updates on their phones and tablets. New claims will still need to be filed through the website.
What happens after I file?
According to the Maryland Department of Labor, after reviewing a claimant’s application and supporting documentation, DUI will notify a claimant of their eligibility through the portal and their preferred method of communication. If they are denied or found ineligible for benefits, they will receive instructions on how to protest or appeal the determination.
When will I receive benefits?
The Maryland Secretary of Labor has said they're working to abide by the federal guidelines of delivering benefits within 21 calendar days, however, if there's an issue with the claim, it make take longer.
If you haven't received your benefits within 21 days, try contacting the claims center by phone or email.
The claims centers are open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. To contact a claim center, call 410-949-0022.
You can also e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I file a claim?
The Department of Labor has put out several video tutorials on how to navigate the BEACON website. Click here to view the video tutorials, and scroll down.
What if I'm having issues logging onto the website?
The Maryland Department of Labor created a username/password resource guide. Click here to view it.
For additional information about logging into the application, read their Login Quick Start Guide.
If you continue to have login issues, email email@example.com.
I haven't received a response to the email I sent. Is there anyone else I can contact for technical issues?
Sagitec said they're unaware of any alternative emails or phone numbers. A tip for getting support faster is to provide more information when emailing support. For example, Claimant ID, Username, what the user was trying to accomplish, what the user tried that didn’t work, screenshots, etc. This helps reduce the amount of back and forth between the support team and claimant.
What if I answered the weekly claim certification questions incorrectly, and my benefits were stopped or delayed?
The Maryland Department of Labor said they've implemented an automated solution to help customers who had active claims that became inactive the first week of May because they answered the weekly claim certification questions incorrectly. If your issue isn't resolved, you'll need to contact the claims center.
RELATED: The mistake causing Marylanders to lose unemployment benefits
Who created the BEACON website?
The vendor's name is Sagitec. In 2015, the Maryland Board of Public Works awarded Sagitec a $49 million contract to modernize the state's unemployment insurance website.
Is the Governor thinking about firing the vendor?
It's unlikely. When asked about this in a news conference, the Governor said he’s frustrated Sagitec hasn't gotten this fixed, but he doesn’t think it makes sense to bring in a new vendor to start from scratch. Other states have done this and have had worse results.
In an emailed statement, Sagitec said they've made significant progress, but there's more work to do. "We will not stop working on making system improvements until we meet the ultimate measure of success, which is getting eligible unemployed Marylanders paid quickly and accurately, with as little frustration as possible," wrote Sagitec.
BEACON One-Stop Tutorial Videos:
- Account Activation and Login
- Filing Your Weekly Certification
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) application
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application
- BEACON One-Stop Overview of Claimant Portal
- BEACON One-Stop View and Complete an Action Item
- BEACON One-Stop Viewing Correspondence
- BEACON One-Stop Viewing Messages
Copyright 2020 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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You may be disqualified from receiving benefits (completely or for a set period of time) if any of the following conditions are true: You voluntarily quit your job without good cause (as defined by your State), or if you voluntarily chose to retire. You were fired from your job for misconduct.How do I speak to Maryland unemployment? ›
Claimants may file initial claims for unemployment benefits via Maryland's Division of Unemployment Insurance BEACON System or by telephone at 667-207-6520. We cannot accept claims by email.Who do I complain to about Maryland unemployment? ›
You may call the office at 410-767-7861 and request a complaint form. You may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a Customer Complaint form.How long does an employer have to respond to unemployment claim in Maryland? ›
Employers should to respond to any telephone message and/or request for information within 48 hours, otherwise a determination will be made based on the information provided by the worker. For more information on what to expect during this call, check out page 23 of this guide.What reasons can you quit a job and still get unemployment in MD? ›
Necessitous or compelling personal reasons other than health problems may constitute valid circumstances. However, no necessitous or compelling situation can amount to a valid circumstance unless the claimant shows that there was no reasonable alternative other than to leave the employment.How long can you stay on unemployment in MD? ›
You can receive up to 26 weeks of total unemployment insurance benefits if you meet all the requirements of the Maryland Unemployment Insurance Law. During periods of extremely high unemployment, a special federally funded program may be in effect, which provides additional weeks of benefits.Do you have to pay back unemployment in Maryland? ›
Yes. Once the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance receives proof of your back pay wages, you will be sent a Notice of Benefit Overpayment indicating the overpayment amount due.Who can I email about MD unemployment? ›
If you are having difficulty placing a call or accessing the website, claimants can e-mail questions to email@example.com. Employers can e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 410-767-2412.What does pending mean on Maryland unemployment? ›
If you see that you are "Ineligible/Pending", this means that you are ineligible for Regular UI benefits, but pending for CARES Act benefits. Once you are determined eligible for PUA benefits, your program name will change from Regular UI to PUA.What is the unemployment law in Maryland? ›
The weekly benefit amount is based on the wages the claimant earned during the base period. The current weekly benefit amount provided under the Maryland UI law ranges from $50 (minimum) to $430 (maximum). You may be eligible to receive up to 26 weeks of regular UI benefits.
The penalties for even simple misconduct can be harsh. An employee found to have been terminated for simple misconduct may be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for between 10 and 15 weeks from his last day of work, depending on the degree of the misconduct.How do I file a complaint against mass unemployment? ›
File by phone:
If you live in area code 617, 857, 781, or 339 call the TeleClaim Center at 617-626-6800. If you live in area code 508, 774, 978, 351, or 413, call the TeleClaim Center at 1-877-626-6800.
If the employer doesn't reply to the initial contact by the state within the time allotted, your state usually approves your claim.Why is MD unemployment on hold? ›
People who forget to action official unemployment agency requests or alerts. Waiting on identity verification approvals. End of Benefit Year (BYE date) Missing documentation.What happens after 26 weeks of unemployment in MD? ›
Learn more about the weekly benefit amount from the DOL's website. Duration of Benefits - Unemployment benefits are available for up to 26 weeks. Benefits may exceed 26 weeks if a federal extension program is available. If this is the case, then the DOL will notify you that there is an extension in effect.What is the penalty for quitting unemployment in Maryland? ›
If a claimant voluntarily quits his job without good cause, but for valid circumstances, a penalty consisting of a delay of payments for five to ten weeks will be imposed. The duration of the penalty is discretionary with the fact finder.How long does MD unemployment take to process? ›
What day of the week does unemployment pay? You can file a claim for the week prior every Sunday, claims and payments are typically processed within 2 business days.How much is unemployment in md 2023? ›
|State||Max. Weekly Benefit Amount||Max Weeks*|
|Maryland||$430 (includes $8 p/dependent allowance)||26|
|Massachusetts||$1015 (+$25 p/dependent)||30|
You may qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. If eligible, you can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits.Can I collect unemployment if I quit my job due to stress in Maryland? ›
You won't be eligible for unemployment benefits if you quit your job voluntarily, without good cause. In general, good cause means that you had a compelling work-related reason that left you no other choice than to leave.
How do I reapply? If you wish to reapply for benefits, you should access your BEACON portal from an Internet browser, click on the “Apply for Benefits” link on your home page, and follow the steps. Note: You cannot complete this process from the MD Unemployment for Claimants Mobile App.Is there a glitch with Maryland unemployment overpayment? ›
There is no glitch. One of the most common reasons an overpayment occurs is because the claimant provided incorrect information upon filing.Who pays Maryland unemployment? ›
Under Maryland UI law, if an employee is engaged in covered employment, their employer is required to: report the employee's wages to the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance (the Division); pay UI taxes on those wages (or, in some circumstances, reimburse the Division for benefits charged to their accounts.How do I get rid of unemployment overpayment in Maryland? ›
You can apply to have the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance waive your overpayment. See the Overpayment Waiver Criteria page for qualifications and waiver application.How do I appeal an unemployment decision in MD? ›
- Through the Beacon portal.
- By mail addressed to or delivered in person to: Board of Appeals. 1100 N. Eutaw St., Rm 515. Baltimore, MD 21201.
- By fax to 410-767-2787.
- By email email@example.com. Filing by email is temporarily permitted due to COVID-19.
Steps to Take if Someone Files a UI Claim in Your Name
If you believe that your information has been used to fraudulently file a Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim, contact the Maryland Department of Labor's Division of Unemployment Insurance by visiting MDunemployment.com or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Board's Decisions are appealable by a claimant, an employer or the Department of Labor to Circuit Court. For information concerning an appeal to the Board of Appeals, please contact 410-767-2781.How do you know if your Maryland unemployment was approved? ›
You will receive an eligibility determination form, which will tell you whether or not you are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. This form will show your base period employer(s), wages earned from each employer, and your weekly benefit amount (WBA).What does pending claimant information mean? ›
Claim pending: When a claim has been received but has not been approved or denied, finished or completed. It is waiting until the premium is paid or the plan is canceled due to nonpayment. It is simply in a waiting period.How do I backdate my unemployment in Maryland? ›
These regulations, at COMAR 09.32. 02.03C(1), state that a claim series does not begin until the first day of the calendar week in which an unemployed individual reports and registers for work. Therefore, the claimant cannot file backdated claims.
A Guide to Maryland Unemployment Benefits Eligibility
Maryland unemployment benefits can help you cover living expenses while you search for a new job, and until you begin receiving paychecks from a new employer.
FILING PROPER CLAIMS
If you did not file a timely weekly claim certification for each week that you are unemployed, your benefits will be denied (starting from the first week that you did not file a timely weekly claim certification).
Discharge - Sections 8-1002, 8-1002.1, 8-1003 - Maryland Unemployment Decisions Digest - Appeals. A discharge for rudeness or poor attitude on the job may result in a finding of gross misconduct, simple misconduct or no misconduct, depending on the circumstances.Can I sue my employer for negligence in Maryland? ›
What is Employer Negligence? In Maryland, you may file a personal injury lawsuit claiming employer negligence in addition to your worker's comp claim.What is official misconduct in Maryland? ›
Criminal Law - Misconduct in Office
A violator is guilty of scheme of misconduct, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years. The State may initiate a prosecution for this offense at any time.
By filing a consumer complaint with the FCC, you contribute to federal enforcement and consumer protection efforts on a national scale and help us identify trends and track the issues that matter most. The FCC does not resolve all individual complaints.Does filing a complaint with the FTC do anything? ›
The FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection stops unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices by: collecting complaints and conducting investigations. suing companies and people that break the law. developing rules to maintain a fair marketplace.Who oversees mass unemployment? ›
Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD)What disqualifies you from unemployment in MD? ›
You may be disqualified from receiving benefits (completely or for a set period of time) if any of the following conditions are true: You voluntarily quit your job without good cause (as defined by your State), or if you voluntarily chose to retire. You were fired from your job for misconduct.How long does an employer have to respond to unemployment in Maryland? ›
Employers should to respond to any telephone message and/or request for information within 48 hours, otherwise a determination will be made based on the information provided by the worker. For more information on what to expect during this call, check out page 23 of this guide.
Under Maryland law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including family leave, parental leave, paid sick leave, family military leave and Civil Air Patrol leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence. Maryland law requires employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees.How do I contact the Maryland Labor Board? ›
- Agriculture Employers and Worker Services: E-mail Norton Pereira (email@example.com) or call 301-326-6006.
- American Job Centers: E-mail General Information (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 410-767-2173.
You can apply online or over the phone by contacting your local UI Claim Center. 3. How much will I receive? Weekly benefit amounts range from a minimum weekly benefit amount of $50 per week to a maximum weekly benefit amount of $430 per week.Do you have to pay back Maryland unemployment? ›
Yes. Once the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance receives proof of your back pay wages, you will be sent a Notice of Benefit Overpayment indicating the overpayment amount due.Is unemployment taxable in Maryland? ›
Yes, UI benefit payments are subject to federal taxes and must be reported on your federal income tax return. In Maryland, UI benefit payments are also subject to state taxes.How long is unemployment benefits in MS? ›
The benefit year is 52 consecutive weeks. It begins on the Sunday of the week in which your application for benefits is filed. If monetary eligibility requirements are met, your claim will remain in effect for one year. (Note: This does not mean you will receive benefits for a full year).Can you collect unemployment if you are fired in MD? ›
Maryland unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer lays off employees due to a loss of production as a direct result of COVID- 19, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet certain criteria.What is considered good cause for quitting a job in Maryland? ›
Quit job for “good cause” such as unsafe working conditions, not receiving payment for your work, to care for a minor child or terminally ill spouse etc.What is the minimum amount of wages for unemployment in Maryland? ›
Weekly benefit amounts range from a minimum weekly benefit amount of $50 per week to a maximum weekly benefit amount of $430 per week. Your weekly benefit amount is determined by your wages during the base period.Can you get partial unemployment in Maryland? ›
Partial Benefits - If you work part-time while receiving unemployment insurance benefits, but your gross wages are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA), you may receive partial benefits.
The advantages of quitting instead of being fired include the possibility of negotiating severance and a positive recommendation. Disadvantages of quitting include forfeiting the right to claim unemployment. Any time you think your job is in danger, it's a good idea to start looking for a new job just in case.Do I legally have to give a reason for quitting? ›
California law permits most employees to quit their jobs at any time, regardless of the reason for quitting.What are the two most crucial reasons for your quitting? ›
- Company downturn. ...
- Acquisition or merger. ...
- Company restructuring. ...
- Career advancement. ...
- Career change to a new industry. ...
- Professional development. ...
- Different work environment. ...
- Better compensation.
Unemployment can be classified as frictional, cyclical, structural, or institutional.What are three negative impacts of unemployment? ›
Communities with high unemployment rates are more likely to have limited employment opportunities, low-quality housing, fewer available recreational activities, limited access to public transportation and public services and underfunded schools.What is the number one cause of unemployment? ›
When businesses contract during a recessionary cycle, workers are let go and unemployment rises. When unemployed consumers have less money to spend on goods and services, businesses must contract even further, causing more layoffs and more unemployment.Who pays for unemployment in Maryland? ›
Maryland employers are required to pay their unemployment insurance taxes by the quarterly due date, four (4) times each year.How much do employers pay for unemployment in Maryland? ›
The standard (employer) rate is 10.50%. Interest rates are 1.5% per month. NOTE: Employees are charged interest (at a rate of 1.5% monthly for 2023) on late contribution/reimbursement payments. Interest charges begin on the date the payment is due and continue until the Division receives the payment.