ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Collecting unemployment benefits continues to be a nightmare for many Marylanders.
On Sunday, the governor’s office and Maryland Dept. of Labor said the unemployment website has been working better this weekend, but FOX 5 has heard from hundreds of people who are at their wits end.
“I’ve been trying for days and days.”
“I haven’t gotten through at all.”
“I actually called one of the numbers over 300 times.”
FOX 5 talked to people from across the state who are struggling. One man said he waited on hold for seven hours trying to talk to someone.
To deal with unprecedented unemployment, Maryland launched a new web portal that was supposed to make filing easier. Instead the website has been plagued with problems from its launch. And people say talking to someone on the phone can prove impossible. It’s left countless people in limbo without the money they so need.
One woman said she filed March 15 and still hadn’t received benefits. Another man said he filed March 20 and nothing.
A Facebook page called Maryland Unemployment DIY REAL ANSWERS has been created for those struggling.
People on the page told FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts about dozens of different issues they were having collecting unemployment benefits.
“The problems are huge and varied,” one man wrote, suggesting the state appoint a crisis leader.
Another suggestion-hire some of those who are unemployed to help answer calls.
People on the site said they are encouraged by support from their fellow Marylanders and knowing they are not alone.
“People are helping any way they can-words of encouragement, phone numbers emails, etc.” said Denise Kremer.
”It’s a very uplifting page,” said Stephen Smith. “Everybody’s helping everybody. It’s very positive and just getting through everything together.”
FOX 5 has been trying to speak to state Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson since Thursday.
On Sunday, Maryland Deptartment of Labor spokeswoman Fallon Pearre said in an email:
“We're happy to report that because we have taken the website down for nightly maintenance, our vendor Sagitec has fixed several technical issues. This has resulted in claimants experiencing minimal to no wait times while using the site this weekend. However, if Marylanders are still experiencing technical difficulties, we ask that they please email BEACON.firstname.lastname@example.org. To ensure that we get a claimant's issue resolved as quickly as possible, they should include the following information in their email:
- Full legal name
- Complete address
- Phone number
- E-mail address
- Last four digits of their Social Security number
- Claimant ID number
- Brief description of the issue they are experiencing
Our department is committed to ensuring that all claimants receive the assistance they need.”
FOX 5 will continue to follow up on this story.