WASHINGTON – Members of 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, Anthony G. Brown, Jamie B. Raskin and David Trone, during a conference call yesterday again urged Maryland Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson to redouble the agency’s efforts to improve the expediency with which Marylanders’ claims for Unemployment Insurance (UI) are processed. Following up on their correspondence and conversations with state leaders earlier this summer, the congressional delegation also requested that the state provide a full and updated accounting on the numbers of unpaid and/or unresolved claims.
“Too many Marylanders are still reeling from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though a state-federal partnership exists to deliver vitally needed support to unemployed workers,” said the lawmakers. “Team Maryland is continuing its work to ensure that both the state leaders and federal agencies that make this process function appreciate fully the urgency of the present situation. For many – too many – the situation is nothing less than dire. Even strong economic lifelines matter very little if they are not quickly and fully deployed. We will continue to press state leaders for greater transparency and expediency in the processing of unemployment insurance claims, and will not stop advocating on behalf of those Marylanders who need assistance until they receive all the benefits they are entitled to under the law.”
The UI provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act enacted by Congress in March 2020 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 that expired at the end of July. The UI provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provide various types of assistance to states, including up to $1 billion in emergency administrative grant funding, of which Maryland received roughly $16.8 million. This law also removes through December 2020 the current requirement in UI law for states to have a waiting week for their regular UI programs.