BALTIMORE — While the number of unemployed Marylanders continues to climb, so do questions surrounding payments for claimants who filed weeks ago.
WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii has repeatedly asked the Maryland Department of Labor about the number of claims that have been paid. On Thursday, a spokeswoman said they're working on compiling the data.
"It’s been 5 or 6 weeks since I’ve applied, I’ve seen nothing," said Kaylee Podany who filed for unemployment on March 23. "I’m just trying to figure out if it’s something I did wrong on my side, or if it’s on their side and it’s just going to take a little bit longer, but not knowing is super frustrating."
Podany said she tries calling the claims center around 200 times a day but only gets a busy signal or operator error and is disconnected.
Many claimants have had similar experiences.
In the absence of answers from the Department of Labor, Sofastaii reached out to Sagitec, the website vendor that created the new BEACON One-Stop Application.
A spokesperson wrote in an email that regular UI benefits have been paid to claimants who are eligible and approved. "In some cases, applications are still pending internal review by the Department of Labor. These aren’t technical issues from BEACON-One Stop."
On their Facebook page, the Maryland Department of Labor wrote: "With the unprecedented demand, we cannot give an exact time frame," the agency wrote in a comment. "We are working through the requests as quickly as possible in the order they were received. Please note, you will not lose out on any benefits because your payment will be backdated to the date of unemployment, not when the claim was processed."
Meanwhile, many new claimants can expect to receive payments this weekend, including those covered under the CARES Act, but they won't immediately have access to those funds.
"The plan is for PUA and PEUC claimants to see their eligible payment amount on Saturday, but these claimants will not yet have access to their payment. In addition, claimants who file under the regular unemployment insurance program will continue to see their payment amounts in their BEACON account, as long as they remain eligible," the spokesperson wrote.
Sagitec is responsible for running the payment batch. The batch will create a file for Bank of America as well as show claimants the amount that they will be receiving once Bank of America disburses the funds.
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.
On Thursday, a spokeswoman with the Department of Labor wrote in an email that they're working with Bank of America to find a way to expedite the shipping of debit cards.
For more answers to frequently asked questions, click here.
And to see the full interview with the Head of Sagitec’s Labor and Employment Practice, click here.