GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Tens of thousands of out-of-work people continued to be worried about unemployment benefits ending early in Maryland.
Many of them are FOX 5 viewers who are continuing to email and message us about their concerns. They say, they have yet to either receive their last unemployment check, or that they are unable to talk with someone on the phone or are having trouble with navigating the state’s website.
This comes as Gov. Larry Hogan last week, made the decision to opt out of federal programs that have aided the unemployed during the pandemic.
"It’s hard, I have worked really hard to get what I had," said Lacey Koontz in Maryland.
Koontz had a difficult time holding back tears Sunday, as she described to FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan what tens of thousands of people like her in Maryland, are currently dealing with when it comes to unemployment.
"He is just going to stop this program that was given to help people."
The program Koontz is referring to is the $300 supplemental weekly payment that Hogan said, will be cut off starting July 3rd.
Many Marylanders will either receive reduced unemployment benefits or none at all.
The reason as Hogan said last week during the announcement, is that the state has significantly boosted its vaccination rates and lowered it’s Covid-19 caseload —making it easier for people to get back to normal activities.
"Why would you want to do this? Why would you want to take two months away from people?," Koontz questioned.
Koontz said, she’ has barely been able to keep her head above water for the past year and a half amid the pandemic, after the salon she was working for, shut down and she lost her job of 15 years as a hair stylist.
"I didn’t just lose a job, I lost a career," she said.
And now, next month, the mother of four and many other unemployed Marylanders are bracing for the impact, of losing the federal enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits. But Koontz said that’s not the only stressor.
"It’s terrible to even try get on to the website to even get your last four weeks," she explained.
In neighboring Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam said, the state will give an incentive of up to $500 for employees to return to work at small businesses across the Commonwealth.
In the District, while there are no such major incentives currently being offered, unemployment insurance benefits are still being paid out.
"Nobody wants to be on unemployment this isn’t fun," Koontz said.
"This isn’t like a huge pay day, this is just enough to get you through."
Not only are enhanced benefits ending in Maryland beginning July 4, everyone who is out of a job will have to prove they are looking for one and provide proof of their search, otherwise, residents could be deemed ineligible to qualify for future unemployment insurance benefits.