BALTIMORE — Thousands are still waiting for their unemployment insurance benefits, but slowly claimants are having their issues resolved.
Terry Gerard had been waiting since October. He tried for months to reach someone at the Department of Labor but couldn’t get through.
“Somebody please help us. This needs to be dealt with immediately,” Gerard said in an interview with WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii in December.
At the time, Gerard was facing eviction and about to lose his car.
“And in the middle of a pandemic, where things are already stressful, this is something we don’t need. We need this help and we need it bad,” said Gerard.
A month after the interview, Gerard was still waiting on a solution. He sent one more email and he received a reply. Maryland Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson personally responded to his message.
“That breakthrough changed my perception on the whole thing,” said Gerard.
In her email to Gerard, Robinson wrote:
“I care more than you could possibly know, but I'm also grateful for your prayers because I find myself working to help an impossible number of claimants. … Unemployment insurance is incredibly complex with overlapping state and federal laws and we are literally doing everything in our power to address every single customer's issues as quickly as possible, some of which require in-depth investigation and multiple interviews because we represent the employer as well as the employee. This takes time, even though we have been working 7 days a week and holidays since March. I have asked my team to work on your claim and I will try to have someone resolve your issues this week. Please hang in there...we're doing the best we can.”
-Maryland Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson
“It’s kind of a two-fold situation because we feel defeated because nothing’s happening and the workers are feeling defeated too because the more cases they clear in the process a thousand more come in, so it’s easy for them to feel discouraged as well. That’s why we have to pull together on this and work together and keep each other encouraged on both sides,” said Gerard.
With the Secretary's assistance, Gerard said his issue was finally resolved.
“It is my faith that held me one more day. I’d make more phone call, I’d send more email, I’d send one more letter and God gave me strength to hold on for one more day,” said Gerard.
And he hopes his story of perseverance gives someone else the strength to keep pushing for a response.
“I believe in my heart that Maryland as a state has the potential to be better than the rest. Do I think we’re acting on that potential? No. But we have it because the people have it and the people here have heart,” Gerard said.
How to get help with your unemployment insurance claim
If you still need help, there are several things you can do:
- Continue to contact the Department of Labor Division of Unemployment Insurance
- Contact your state legislators. Click here then type in your address under the "lookup" tab and you'll have the option to email all the checked legislators.
- Fill out this inquiry form for assistance.
- See if your question is addressed in our Unemployment Guide.