GAITHERSBURG, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - It’s a story FOX 5 has been covering relentlessly, Maryland’s months-long struggle to pay people their unemployment benefits. New numbers out Thursday show the backlog of people waiting hasn’t changed much this week over last.
As of Thursday, there were 23,770 claims pending adjudication compared to 24,913 the week before.
A spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Labor said the department has received over 100,000 new claims in the last two weeks and there will always be some pending claims.
FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts has tried to help those who have reached out.
Two people we introduced you to last week are finally getting the benefits they’ve waited months for.
“I can pay my bills now!” said Devona Givens of Prince George’s County.
She said as of Thursday, her claim is squared away and she’s getting back pay for the weeks she’s missed.
“I’m so grateful for your help, FOX 5 and Lindsay Watts, and I’m just grateful,” said Givens. “Because I don’t think if I wouldn’t have reached out to you and you wouldn’t have reached out to them, that they would’ve got back to me. I would still be in the same boat as a whole bunch of other people. So I’m really happy about that.”
The other man we spoke to last week, Joe Tracey, said he was worried the home he shared with his 85-year-old mother would go into foreclosure. He says he’d been calling the labor department a hundred times a day for nine weeks.
“I never felt so helpless in my life,” Tracey said Thursday. “Once you contacted them last Friday, it was fixed in an hour!”
On Twitter, the labor department touted that it’s processed 96 percent of claims and paid out over $3.6 billion.
But responses that followed were from people who said they “have yet to see $1,” had been waiting since April, another waiting since March and that it was “impossible to get through on phones.”
FOX 5 is still receiving requests for help from viewers. We sent another list to the Labor Dept. Thursday
On Monday, Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Md) joined Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery Co.) in calling for everyone waiting for unemployment benefits to immediately be paid $1,200. The labor department has rejected the idea citing fraud concerns.
FOX 5 has been requesting an interview with Gov. Larry Hogan for over two months to discuss the failures to pay people promptly. His office said Monday he had no availability.