Unemployment Insurance Information
The Federal Government has authorized states to provide financial assistance to people who have lost their jobs or those who have a reduction in work hours due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) strengthens and expands unemployment insurance in addition to other financial assistance.
On April 24, the Maryland Department of Labor launched a new one-stop application for unemployment insurance benefits claims, commonly referred to as BEACON. New claims can be filed Tuesdays through Saturdays only. Sundays and Mondays are reserved ONLY for claimants who have received benefits that need to file their weekly claim certificate – they can also file weekly claims any other day of the week. To avoid overwhelming the new system, a virtual waiting line to access the application has been introduced. Upon accessing the application, users will be placed in a queue showing how many users are ahead of them and an approximate wait time that is continually updated. The application will be taken down nightly for maintenance between 1:00 and 3:00 am.
With this new system in place, individuals who would traditionally be ineligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits will be able to submit claims during the COVID-19 crisis.
Who may be eligible for the newly expanded benefits?
- Exhausted regular Unemployment Insurance benefits.
- Currently receive regular Unemployment Insurance benefits.
- Can no longer access adequate child care during this crisis.
- Work in a category that was previously ineligible for benefits, such as self-employed, independent contractor, gig economy worker, or recently hired (those who would not have sufficient time to establish eligible work histories). The following examples of occupations may be covered for expanded benefits under the CARES Act:
- Self-Employed – generally those who carry on a trade or business as a sole proprietor, are members of a partnership that carries on a trade or business, or those who are in business for themselves, including part-time (ex: social media consultant, video production, web design, event coordinator, interior decorator, life coach, tutor, market researcher).
- Independent Contractor/Freelancer – those who work for one or multiple clients with defined projects and a set time frame (ex: handyman, freelance writer, delivery driver, insurance sales professional, medical courier, project manager)
- Gig Economy Worker – those who do not work for a single employer, but work for themselves on a job-by-job or client-by-client basis that is temporary and flexible (ex: Uber or Lyft drivers, Instacart, Postmates, Amazon Flex, Rover, Airbnb)
The State will examine each application to determine if a claimant’s work status is eligible for expanded benefits.
What’s needed to prepare to file a claim?
Before filing a new claim, it’s important to have identification and supportive documents prepared for submission. Common information/documents include:
- Social Security Number
- Mailing Address
- A telephone number where the claimant can be reached
- The name, birth date and social security number of all dependents under age 16
- If the claimant is not a U.S. Citizen, proof of alien status
- The business name, address, and dates of employment for all employers within the last 18 months
- A copy of the claimant’s W-2 form
- If the claimant worked for a union, the hiring hall number may be required
- If separated from the military within the last 18 months, a copy of claimant’s DD-214
The State may require additional documentation to support claims under the expanded benefits program.
The Department of Labor has updated FAQs for weekly claim certifications here (May 7, 2020).
For helpful tutorial videos visit Maryland State’s YouTube Channel here. Videos titled “Maryland Unemployment Insurance BEACON One-Stop” provide information to help you navigate the new system.
Resources For Job Seekers
Check out our latest post for a list of employers that are currently hiring here. We’re also offering virtual workshops and career coaching sessions regularly. You can see all of our current offerings and registration information on our calendar. The Montgomery County American Job Centers (AJC) are closed until further notice, but the staff is still hard at work for you. If you require individual employment search or skill-building assistance, contact staff at one of our AJCs here:
The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) and DirectEmployers Association announced the launch of NeedAJobNow.usNLx.com, a job site dedicated to providing a centralized location for displaced workers to access employment opportunities from U.S. corporations with immediate hiring needs due to COVID-19. There are over 400,000 jobs listed from vetted employers in all industries and the list grows daily.
The CASH Campaign of Maryland has compiled helpful resources for Marylanders to lessen the financial impact of this public health crisis. Financial education classes are available online and services are being transitioned to virtual formats. To see upcoming webinars on a variety of financial topics, click here.
Resources For Employers & Businesses
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has published an Operational Toolkit for Businesses Considering Reopening or Expanding Operations here (May 6, 2020).
Without question, COVID-19 has put incredible stress on the restaurant industry. That’s why OLD BAY, McCormick for Chefs, and CORECares have joined forces to offer support to local Maryland restaurants impacted by COVID-19 providing up to $2,500 in new grants. Click here for more information on the Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund.
The Maryland Business Express website is continuously being updated by the Maryland Departments of Commerce and Labor on resources for businesses. Tip: you can subscribe to receive updates to this page at the top.
Within MD Labor, unemployment insurance (UI) also has a Work Sharing Program where employers can reduce worker hours (instead of laying employees off), and the employee can receive partial UI benefits to supplement lost wages.
For more business assistance resources, visit Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC).