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Despite issues Maryland's unemployment website is open, but with changes

Posted at 8:00 AM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 15:08:12-04

BALTIMORE — The Maryland Department of Labor's BEACON One-Stop Application for Unemployment Insurance is back open with some changes. It's operating slower than normal and with limited days.

On Sundays and Mondays, the site is only open for people who have an existing claim or who are filing a weekly claim certification. New claims can only be filed from Tuesday to Saturday. According to the Maryland Department of Labor website, "this gating system will increase the number of customers who are able to complete their filings with minimal hassle and frustration."

The WMAR-2 Newsroom was flooded with calls all weekend of people frustrated that this website wasn't working. It launched on Friday and then crashed.

Governor Larry Hogan expressed his frustrations as well, that the site couldn't handle the volume of people. A representative from the Governor's Office said in an ideal environment they would have had time to test, re-test and even do a soft launch on the site, but that was time they didn't have since they want to help people quickly.

Mike Ricci, the Communication Director for Governor Hogan said, "we are doing things in days that would typically take weeks, in weeks that would typically take months." He added, "There are going to be things that don’t go right. I’m sorry about that."

The vendor, Sagitec, said they can't guarantee that additional technical difficulties will not happen. They are closing down the site from 1 a.m. until 3 a.m. for the next couple of days to do maintenance work to hopefully prevent the site from crashing again.

On Monday, the Department of Labor issued an apology to applicants for the inconvenience and hardships caused.

"The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance sincerely apologizes for the difficulties surrounding applications for unemployment insurance benefits. The launch of the new online BEACON One-Stop application was intended to offer Marylanders the opportunity to quickly and easily file all types of claims and weekly certifications entirely online 24/7. The launch of the site has clearly fallen short."

To help applicants manage their time better, the department says they're introducing a virtual waiting line.

The system will show how many users are waiting for access into the site, and an estimated time of how long it might take to get in. Applicants can provide their email and be notified when the system is ready to access.

In order to get the system more functioning, it will be down for maintenance nightly between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. until further notice.

For more information on BEACON, click here.