ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Another 51,000 Marylanders filed for unemployment claims last week, but frustration over getting benefits from the Department of Labor remains high.
State Senate President Bill Ferguson is suggesting ways to fix the system right now.
The labor department said it must follow state and federal guidelines as it approves claims with so many people needing their benefits. Now the senate president suggests a different approach.
“I try to stay positive, wake up, ‘It's going to be taken care of today.’ It's never taken care of,” said Jamie Meyers.
Meyers tries to remain upbeat, but admits he's feeling despair.
“I'm almost like defeated in a sense. You make every call and do what you're supposed to do, and still don't get anything,” Meyers said.
It's been 60 days since he applied for unemployment benefits because of the coronavirus. He received a debit card, which had $6 on it from years ago, a previous time he was unemployed. He's received nothing more.
Dana Deliket is also waiting for her unemployment money to arrive.
“This issue is our livelihood, our health, our stability. Keeping everybody sane and not being depressed,” Deliket said.
“This is just unacceptable,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson is calling for default approval, having the Department of Labor put aside certain guidelines and regulations to get the money out the door.
“Are there going to be people that abuse the system? Yes. It will be a minor number. There are many more desperate people needing to put food on the table,” he said. ”It's best to get something out to those and own the cost of people abusing the system later on and true up at the end.”
On WBAL News Radio’s 1090/FM 101.5's C-4 Show, Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson described how her department is trying to solve issues created by an overwhelmed unemployment system.
“We are not satisfied. We are not getting to every person's claim. We will continue working as hard as we can and pushing ourselves to our limits till we are paying every eligible claim,” Robinson said.
Robinson again talked about plans of adding more staff and extending call line hours on Sunday. Ferguson said he'd like labor to have a line answering calls and helping people 24 hours a day.
The Unemployment Insurance Claim Center hours have been extended weekdays to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and claims centers will be open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon -- call 410-949-0022.
The BEACON One-Stop Online Application website was launched April 24 and has posed problems for many Marylanders since.
Announced April 27, the Maryland Department of Labor is implementing a new gating system:
SUNDAYS and MONDAYS: ONLY residents who are filing weekly claim certifications will be able to file. People who cannot file weekly claim certifications on Sunday or Monday can file it on any other day.
TUESDAYS through SATURDAYS: Residents can file new claims as well as complete all other activities.
Those applying online will see a virtual waiting line: "By entering this system, you will be able to see how many individuals are waiting for site access, receive an estimated wait time that is constantly updated and sign up to receive an email when the system is ready for you to access the platform," the Maryland Department of Labor posted online April 27.
Read more at WBALTV