Unemployment can help many Maryland workers through this uncertain time.
Maryland, like much of the rest of the country, is largely at a standstill as businesses close to promote social distancing. This creates financial challenges for workers and families who depend on a steady paycheck, but financial help is available from various sources.
If you’ve lost income due to COVID-19, unemployment benefits won’t replace it all, but they can give you a regular check during these tough times. This guide breaks down everything you need to know in order to determine if you qualify and how you can apply.
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Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?
Maryland residents must meet the following requirements to claim unemployment:
- You must have lost your income or had your hours significantly reduced through no fault of your own.
- You must be actively seeking and able to perform work (see note below).
- Your past earnings must meet the standards explained below.
The work-search requirement has been waived during the pandemic, effective March 21, but you still have to meet the other requirements.
Maryland looks at your earnings during a base period. This is the first four of the last five completed quarters — October 2018 to September 2019 if you apply in March or January to December 2019 if you apply in April.
You must have earned more than $1,176 during your highest-earning quarter of your base period and at least 1.5 times the upper limit of the wages for the line in the Schedule of Benefits you fall into. So if you earned $1,800 in your high quarter, you’d have to earn at least $2,700 in two combined quarters to qualify.
If you don’t qualify for benefits based on the standard base period, you may qualify with an alternate base period, which looks at the four most recently completed quarters. The income requirements remain the same.
How do I apply for unemployment benefits?
Create an account on the Maryland Department of Labor website to apply for unemployment benefits. In order to handle the high volume of applications, the department is asking people to file according to their last name:
- File on Monday if your last name starts with A – F
- File on Tuesday if your last name starts with G – N
- File on Wednesday if your last name starts with O – Z
- You can file by phone on Thursday and Friday, regardless of your name and online between Thursday and Sunday
Have the following information ready:
- Your Social Security number or Alien Registration Number
- Your address and phone number
- Names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of any dependents you’re claiming
- The name, address, and phone number for all employers you worked for in the last 18 months
Once you’ve created an account, you must file weekly claim certifications. Maryland does not currently allow for direct deposits to a bank account. You can choose between a debit card and a mailed check.
How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits?
You’ll receive at least $50 per week and possibly as much as $430 per week in unemployment benefits. It depends on your income during your entire base period and your highest-earning quarter. Here’s a table to help you figure out how much you’ll get.
You can also claim an additional $8 per dependent per week for up to five dependents. Eligible dependents include biological, adopted, and stepchildren under 16 that you care for. But your total weekly benefit amount, including dependent allowances, can never exceed $430 per week.
Maryland is working to incorporate the new provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It will entitle claimants to an additional $600 per week through July 31, 2020. This is in on top of the maximum $430 Maryland allowance.
How long can I collect unemployment benefits?
You can claim Maryland unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, assuming you don’t find new employment during that time. However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.
What if my unemployment claim is denied?
If your unemployment claim is denied, you can file an appeal in writing within 15 calendar days of receiving your Notice of Benefit Determination. The notice should explain your appeal rights and how to submit your request for appeal.
If the novel coronavirus has left you facing difficult financial decisions, you might get some measure of financial security from unemployment benefits. Consider applying today if you haven’t already.
View more information: https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/banks/articles/how-apply-unemployment-maryland/