Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson Wednesday announced the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, offering claimants an additional $300 per week in retroactive federal benefits, will launch Friday, ahead of schedule.
After being initially approved for three weeks of LWA funding, Maryland has now been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for three additional weeks of $300 federal payments. The department will also be launching the fully modernized BEACON 2.0 unemployment insurance system for claimants and employers this month.
To qualify for the $300 in federal benefits retroactive to the weeks ending Aug. 1 through Sept. 5, the federal program requires that claimants be eligible for a weekly benefit amount of at least $100. Claimants will not need to file a separate application and will be notified of their eligibility for the LWA program in their BEACON One-Stop portal and by email. Upon logging into their BEACON One-Stop portal beginning Friday, September 11, eligible claimants will be prompted to self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
After certifying they have been unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions due to COVID-19, claimants will receive a lump sum payment retroactive to their earliest date of eligibility within the LWA program within 1-2 days. This initial payment may be on a different day than a claimant regularly receives benefits. FEMA has stated that no funding will be available for states past the sixth week.
A fully modernized BEACON 2.0 unemployment insurance system will be launching Sept. 20 for claimants and Sept. 21 for employers. BEACON 2.0 is a multi-year project dating back to 2015 that integrates all benefits, appeals, tax, and reemployment functions of the unemployment insurance system.
In addition to all that claimants can already accomplish in the current BEACON One-Stop application, launched to accommodate the unprecedented surge of new claims during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BEACON 2.0 system will offer claimants and employers dozens of new online features. Claimants will have the ability to update their claims, see details of eligibility issues, respond to fact-finding questions, file appeals, submit supporting documents for appeals or adjudication, and track overpayments.
To complete this transition, Maryland’s current system will be taken offline Sept. 16 at 5 p.m. to Sept. 20 at 12:01 a.m. to convert all of the data from the legacy system. Unemployment insurance claimants will receive detailed instructions about the BEACON 2.0 launch via email Thursday.
BEACON 2.0 will also provide employers with a new portal, allowing them to quickly and easily access and manage their employer accounts entirely online. Employers now will have the ability to submit reports, access their tax rate information, submit wage reports and adjustments, pay contributions, respond to requests about claimant separation, file appeals, and more. All employers have received detailed account activation instructions via email or a mailed letter.
To receive updates and additional information about unemployment insurance programs in Maryland, go to MDunemployment.com.