I received an email from the Maryland Department of Labor. It explained that even though Congress passed an extension to federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and President Trump signed it into law, it’s going to take a while for my benefits to resume.
Of course. I already knew that. There were so many hurdles and delays in getting the initial Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. I knew this extension would be no different.
Here’s the email:
Dear Valued Claimant:
On December 27, the federal COVID-19 relief package, called the “Continued Assistance for Unemployment Workers Act” that extends the CARES Act programs and provides additional federal unemployment benefits, was signed into law. Labor has reviewed the legislation and is working with the vendor to begin programming the four new and extended programs in the BEACON system.
However, the department is waiting to receive complete and detailed guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor for each program before it can be implemented and paid in Maryland. States cannot move forward without this critical guidance and it is likely that guidance will be issued early in the new year. As the guidance is received, Maryland will modify the BEACON system and implement each program as quickly as possible to bring much-needed relief to eligible claimants.
Please note that while there will be no gap in benefit eligibility because the PUA, PEUC, FPUC, and MEUC programs are retroactive to the week ending Saturday, January 2, 2021, for eligible claimants, there may be a delay in the receipt of payment. However, rest assured that eligible claimants will receive ALL benefits they are owed backdated to their earliest date of eligibility within the extended and additional programs. An overview of the four programs can be found below, on our website, and attached to this email.
Maryland acts like an extension to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was a surprise
Congress has been working on an extension to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for eight months. The Maryland Department of Labor is just now beginning to work with the vendor of BEACON, the terrible software Maryland uses to process benefits. I do not believe that.
This is just an excuse to delay paying benefits. Speaking of delay, the claim that the Maryland Department of Labor needs “detailed guidance” from the U.S. Department of Labor before implementing the extension is ridiculous. The state of Maryland has lawyers who can read a newly passed law and suss out what it specifically says. Detailed guidance is not required. Legally, Maryland has to follow what is specified in the law, not a memo for the U.S. Department of Labor.
What, me worry?
No matter how long it takes to get the extended benefits, I’m not going to worry. I’m going to be Alfred E. Neuman about this.
I experienced the initial round of Maryland executing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. I know Maryland will take as long as it possibly can to comply with the law. Knowing this, I’m not going to worry about it. Plus, We’ve got money in savings. If we watch what we spend and if I don’t go crazy and buy a lot of stupid stuff, we shouldn’t have to tap into savings.
Considering that I’m naturally inclined to buy stupid stuff (i.e., comics, hats, Funko Pops, Hot Wheels, sports trading cards, etc.), it’s something I have to work on. My stupid spending has gone way down, mostly because we don’t go anywhere. If it weren’t for Amazon, my level of stupid spending would be close to undetectable. It would also help if ’47 Brand stopped sending me 25% coupons. Every time they do that, I feel as though I have to buy a hat.
If you’re a fan of Marie Kondo, you’ll understand it when I say ’47 hats spark joy for me.
It turns out the delay was highly exaggerated. On January 5 I received an email from the Maryland Department of Labor asking me to go to the BEACON website to reopen my unemployment claim. I did that and then today, January 7, I received an email informing me funds have been added to my unemployment debit card.
Maryland did a fantastic job.