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Definitions - Unemployment Insurance

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Appeal - An appeal is a claimant or employer’s formal request to have a determination reconsidered. More information about filing an appeal with the Lower Appeals Division and the Board of Appeals is available on the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance website.

Base Period - The wages paid to a claimant in either the standard or alternate base period determine the claimant’s weekly benefit amount. The standard base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before your claim effective date. If you do not qualify for benefits using the standard base period, an alternate base period may be used. The alternate base period is the most recently completed four calendar quarters of wages before your claim effective date.

Note: Your claim effective date is the Sunday of the week in which the initial claim is filed. For example, if you file a claim on Wednesday, March 4, the claim’s effective date is Sunday, March 1.

For more about base periods, see the Claims Filing - Initial Claims section of the Claimant FAQs.

Benefit Year - Your benefit year is a one-year period that starts on the Sunday of the first week in which you file your initial claim. For example, if you filed your initial claim on Friday, March 6, 2020, your benefit year would start on Sunday, March 1, 2020.

If you are still unemployed when your benefit year expires, you should file a new claim. You may be entitled to benefits in the next benefit year, provided you meet all eligibility requirements. For more, see the Claims Filing - Initial Claims section of the Claimant FAQs.

Claim Certifications - Filing a weekly claim certification (also referred to as a continued claim) is your request to be paid unemployment insurance benefits. After you file an initial claim, you will be required to file claim certifications each week that you are unemployed to receive benefit payments.

Each claim certification will cover a one-week period (Sunday to Saturday), referred to as the benefit payment week.

  • You should file your claim certification between Sunday at 12:01 a.m. and Saturday at 11:59 p.m., immediately following the week for which you are requesting payment.
    • For example, to request payment for a benefit payment week ending on Saturday, September 4, you would file a claim certification between Sunday, September 5, and Saturday, September 11.
  • When you will file a claim certification each week, you are required to answer several eligibility questions.

Claim certifications may be filed by telephone (referred to as a Telecert) by calling 410-949-0022 or online (referred to as a Webcert) in the BEACON claimant portal. You can also file claim certifications in the MD Unemployment for Claimants mobile app (download from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store). For more, see the Claims Filing - Initial Claims section of the Claimant FAQs.

Claim Specialist - A claims specialist (also called a claims agent or claims examiner) assists claimants and employers with unemployment insurance inquiries. Specialists also make decisions (determinations) about a claimant's eligibility for benefits and benefits charged to an employer’s account.

Determination - A decision made regarding a claimant's eligibility for benefits. A monetary determination addresses whether or not the claimant earned enough wages in covered employment during the base period to qualify for benefits. A nonmonetary determination addresses the claimant’s eligibility for benefits based on several factors, including the reason the claimant separated from employment, and the claimant’s availability for work. For more, see the Denials and Payments section of the Claimant FAQs.

Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning (DWDAL) - DWDAL has two main functions:

  1. To help a claimant find appropriate training programs to enhance the claimant's skills, knowledge, and abilities.
  2. To help the claimant find a job.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) - DUA is an unemployment insurance program for individuals whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster, as declared by the President of the United States (presidential major disaster declaration).

Effective Date - Your claim effective date is the Sunday of the week in which you filed an initial claim. For example, if you filed a claim on Wednesday, March 4, the claim’s effective date is Sunday, March 1. For more, see the Claims Filing - Initial Claims section of the Claimant FAQs.

Extended Benefits (EB) - EB is a federal unemployment insurance program which allows claimants who exhausted Regular Unemployment Insurance benefits to receive additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. EB is only available during periods of extremely high unemployment, and states must meet federal requirements before EB can be offered.

Hearing - A hearing is a formal meeting held to consider an appeal of a decision/determination.

Hearing Examiner - A hearing officer who hears the claimant's or the employer's appeal. After the hearing, the hearing examiner will issue a formal written decision that will be mailed to all parties involved.

Initial Claim - An initial claim is your application for unemployment insurance benefits. For more, see the Claims Filing - Initial Claims section of the Claimant FAQs.

Overpayment - An overpayment occurs when a claimant receives a benefit payment to which the claimant is not entitled. Overpayments can occur due to a penalty resulting from: employment separation; changes in a claimant's availability for work; audit results; unreported/underreported wages; and appeal decisions that reverse a claimant’s eligibility for benefits, among other reasons. The Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance notifies a claimant of an overpayment by sending a Overpayment Determination (available in BEACON and sent via the claimant’s preferred communication method). For more, see the Overpayments and Fraud FAQs.

Part-Time Worker - An individual whose availability for work is restricted to part-time work, and who worked at least 20 hours per week in part-time work for the majority of weeks in the base period.

Partial Benefits - If you work part-time while receiving unemployment insurance benefits, but your gross wages are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA), you may receive partial benefits. Partial payments are usually paid when you only work part-time, you are working all available hours at your part-time job, and you are actively seeking full-time work.

Penalty - For a claimant, a penalty is a condition the claimant must fulfill to be eligible for benefits after being disqualified. For example, if a claimant voluntarily quits a job without good cause or valid circumstances, the claimant’s penalty is a disqualification from benefits until the claimant becomes reemployed, earns at least 15 times their weekly benefit amount in covered employment, and subsequently becomes unemployed. For more, see the Issues, Disqualifying Reasons and Penalties webpage.

Quarter - The calendar year is divided into four quarters: the first quarter is January through March, the second quarter is April through June, the third quarter is July through September, and the fourth quarter is October through December.

Reasonable Assurance - If you work for an educational institution, you may not be eligible for benefits during the period between academic years or during a vacation period if you have reasonable assurance that you will be employed when the academic year resumes/the next academic year begins. Factors including the type of communication received by the claimant, who made the communication, when it was issued and the claimant's work history with the employer, are used to determine whether a claimant has reasonable assurance.

Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) - TRA is a federal program that provides payments to individuals who have exhausted unemployment insurance benefits and whose jobs were affected by foreign imports.

Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) - UCFE is a federal unemployment insurance benefit program for former federal employees.

Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) - UCX is a federal unemployment insurance benefit program for ex-military personnel. Former members of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can also receive UCX.

Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) - Your weekly benefit amount is the amount of unemployment insurance benefits you are determined to be eligible for each week. For regular unemployment insurance, your WBA is based on the wages you were paid by all employers in the base period. For more, see the Claims Filing - Initial Claims section of the Claimant FAQs.

Week Ending Date - The week ending date is the last day of the benefit week. In Maryland, the benefit week runs from Sunday to Saturday, and the week ending date is always a Saturday. When a claimant files a weekly claim certification to request benefit payments, the claimant will answer questions about the last completed benefit week. For more, see the Claims Filing - Weekly Claim Certifications section of the Claimant FAQs.