BALTIMORE, MD—Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson on Wednesday announced that the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, offering claimants an additional $300 per week in retroactive federal benefits, will be launching ahead of schedule this Friday, September 11th.
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, for a total of six weeks of $300 federal payments. MD Labor will also be launching the fully modernized BEACON 2.0 unemployment insurance system for claimants and employers this month.
“Our department has worked around the clock to implement the Lost Wages Assistance Program ahead of schedule, putting up to $1,800 in the pockets of struggling Marylanders in addition to their regular unemployment benefits,” said MD Labor Secretary Robinson. “We believe Maryland’s claimants and employers deserve a state of the art unemployment insurance system, which is why our department will be launching the fully modernized BEACON 2.0 system later this month. BEACON 2.0 will offer dozens of new features, allowing us to better serve our customers while preparing our state for the future.”
Lost Wages Assistance Program Begins Friday
To qualify for the $300 in federal benefits retroactive to the weeks ending August 1, 2020 through September 5, 2020, 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.
Fully Modernized UI System Launches Later This Month
A fully modernized BEACON 2.0 unemployment insurance system will be launching for claimants on Sunday, September 20 and for employers on Monday, September 21. 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 from Wednesday, September 16 at 5 p.m. to Sunday, September 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 tomorrow.
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.