Governor Hogan recently announced that Maryland will be ending federally enhanced unemployment assistance paid by the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, or DLLR, this summer. As part of the federally enhanced unemployment benefits, those who are eligible for traditional unemployment in Maryland have been receiving an additional $300 per week. On June 2, 2021, the State submitted the required 30-day written notice to the Federal Government to opt out of the program. Although the federally enhanced unemployment programs are scheduled to expire in September, these benefits will end for Maryland residents on July 3, 2021. Maryland is joining half the states in the country who are opting out of the enhanced unemployment benefits under ARPA. Employers in Maryland, particularly in the service sector, have been reporting a significant worker shortage and point to the enhanced unemployment benefits as its major cause. Governor Hogan cites increased vaccine availability, Maryland’s close to 70% vaccination rate, and decreasing first-time unemployment claims in further support of the move.
In addition to ending the enhanced benefits, Governor Hogan has reinstated the work-search requirements for unemployment beneficiaries that were suspended during the pandemic. Beneficiaries are again required to make at least three re-employment attempts each week to be eligible to receive benefits for that week. By eliminating the enhanced unemployment insurance benefits and reinstating job search requirements to continue receipt of unemployment benefits, Governor Hogan expects more unemployment beneficiaries will return to work, thereby alleviating the worker shortage.
The end of the enhanced Federal unemployment assistance does not only affect those who were eligible for traditional unemployment. Those who were placed out of work for reasons that would render them ineligible for traditional unemployment but are still receiving benefits from DLLR likely are beneficiaries of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, or PUA. PUA was designed to create a safety net for those who were working in jobs that could not be done remotely or were out of work due to pandemic-related issues. For example, a parent of school-aged children who was required to be home to provide care for their children due to school closures would have received unemployment benefits through PUA even though they would not have otherwise been eligible for unemployment benefits. These benefits will also end on July 3, 2021.
While the enhanced benefits will be eliminated after July 3, 2021, the DLLR has promised that any benefits properly owed under either enhanced unemployment or PUA for weeks through July 3, 2021 will be paid to the beneficiaries. This is important because PUA determinations have been particularly susceptible to data entry errors, such as incorrect time periods and other inaccurate information, which have resulted in eligible beneficiaries’ claims being denied. These determinations must be appealed for benefits to be received.
At Luchansky Law, we have successfully represented claimants in their appeals before the DLLR and obtained benefits for those who were improperly denied. If you believe you have been wrongfully denied PUA or any other unemployment benefit, give us a call at (410) 522-1020 to schedule a consultatio