BALTIMORE — Since the start of the pandemic 1.6 million unemployment claims were filed in Maryland.
With every one of those cases a person is trying to get what they need to survive, and for a lot of people it has been difficult to impossible due to a lack of communication.
Around 28,000 people call the Maryland unemployment line a day.
To meet that demand the state added 989 new staff members including 675 new call center employees.
Information from the the Department of Labor shows they’ve processed around 95 percent of claims and that only around 5 percent are pending.
The people I’ve talked to say those efforts haven’t made much of a difference because they still aren’t seeing their problems resolved.
“I have CCD, everybody in the state that I possibly know could look into this except god,” said Wayne Knott.
From May to mid-December Knott was on a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claim getting half of what he originally received when he lost his job in March.
In the beginning, he couldn’t even get through on the phone.
“You call multiple times you get through finally or you get a call back and you pour out about what’s happening thinking these people can actually do something when in reality they can’t do nothing to help you,” Knott said.
He is one of the many people who have overpayment statuses.
His online profile says he's over by $17,000.
On top of his own issues, he was sent another person's information.
“There is a breach in the DLL security because they sent another persons information to me,” said Knott. “It has nothing to do with her claim. Yet I have her full name, her social security number, her claimant ID. I have everything that pertains to how much she gets per week and how much her overpayment is.”
Gary Beach has been unemployed since November.
He said it took him two weeks to get through to unemployment on the phone.
“They said I have a two week wait before I got a phone interview and that wasn’t the case so I call back and finally got through again and they said I was still on the waiting list,” Beach said.
He said he’s had at least 1000 calls dropped and even started emailing Governor Hogan daily with how many times he was dropped in that day.
He finally got a person assigned to his case— but still hasn’t had a phone interview.
“Governor Hogan did email me back,” said Beach. “He also copied in Tiffany Robinson who’s the secretary of Labor for the state of Maryland.”
Priscilla Logan’s card was closed on July 5th.
She’s faxed her id, passport and there is nothing on the beacon for her to do.
She has 7 claims that she's waiting for a response on.
“I’ve called on the regular just to see if I could talk to anyone and I never get an answer I always get the machine,” Logan said. “Or they want you to do it on virtual, I got to type stuff but they can’t answer me because it’s not the questions that I want answered.”
Everyone I talked to says they’ve reached out to their delegates and senators and in many cases that has helped at least get a little more communication.
While their cases are on the right peoples radars, they are still looking for answers.