WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Maryland’s congressional delegation on Friday sent a letter pressing state labor officials about issues with the delivery of unemployment benefits to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, Congress acted quickly to provide expanded unemployment benefits to workers and administrative funding to states charged with processing UI claims and implementing these new assistance programs,” the members wrote. “However, many of our constituents dealt with delays and were unable to access their benefits.”

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They said Maryland is one of the 10 slowest states to get benefits to claimants.

“The expanded federal UI benefits have provided a lifeline to struggling families across Maryland as they have dealt with an unprecedented crisis and faced extreme hardships,” they wrote. But too many Marylanders have to contend with the added hardship of struggling to access the benefits they are owed.”

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The members asked the Maryland Department of Labor for data on the status of benefits, including how many claims have been paid out and how many remain pending.

Last week, state lawmakers took Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson to task over delays in payments to claimants.

“I’ve got teams of people continuing to work from the oldest [claims] forward,” Robinson said. “I’ve got other teams of people who are handling the claimants who present themselves to us with the most urgent issues.”

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Read the full letter to Robinson.

CBS Baltimore Staff