Filing Proper Claims - Section 901
I. In General
A. Claim Weeks Prior to Registration for Work
The claimant reported to the local office for the first
time on September 7, and attempted to file claims for the
weeks ending August 13, August 20, and August 27, 1983.
The Board denied benefits for the three weeks in question.
Under Section 8-901, claims for benefits must be filed in
accordance with the Secretary's regulations. These regulations,
at COMAR 09.32.02.03C(1), state that a claim series does
not begin until the first day of the calendar week in which
an unemployed individual reports and registers for work.
Therefore, the claimant cannot file backdated claims. Golabieski, 211-BR-84.
The Board of Appeals allowed backdated claims where a claimant was
misinformed by the employer (which had entered into an
agreement with the Agency regarding the dispersing information
about unemployment insurance benefits to affected employees).
By virtue of the agreement between employer and agency,
the employer was vicariously placed in the position of
the Agency. In this case, the employer failed to send
a separation notice to the state regarding the claimant
and failed to initially file a claim on behalf of the
claimant as per the agreement between the employer and
agency. This action had been taken by the employer on
behalf of the claimant's similarly situated coworkers. Rinker, 842-BH-99.
Some back-dated claims may be permitted where the employer's actions (misinformation
in an employment contract on ineligibility to collect
benefits) resulted in the claimant believing that she
was not eligible. The Board stated that an employer has
an obligation to be certain that information that it was
including in employment contracts concerning unemployment
benefits was accurate. This concept is "balanced" by the
obligation upon the claimant to contact the Agency or
other legal authority to ascertain his or her rights.
Therefore, the Board allowed the claimant to file claims
in 1998 from 1996, but did not permit the backdating of
claims for 1994 and 1995. Charlyce M. Johnson v. Anne
Arundel Co. Economic Opport. Comm Inc., 575-BH-00.
B. Claims Filed by Representative
The claimant was ill and unable to keep her appointment
at the local office on September 18, 1991. The claimant's
father came to the local office that day for her. The
claimant's father was not allowed to keep the claimant's
appointment or file the claimant's claim form for the
weeks ending September 7 and September 14, 1991. If he
had been allowed to file the claim form, it would have
been filed in a timely manner. COMAR 09.32.02.09A allows
for the filing of claims through a representative. The
claimant filed proper claims for benefits under Section 8-901. Williams, 278-BR-92.
C. Presumption of Timely Delivery to Agency
A claimant mailed his claim in a timely fashion, but it
was returned because of an error of the U.S. Postal Service.
Unemployment insurance regulations are based upon a presumption
of the correct handling of the mail in transit. Where
this has not occurred, the claimant cannot be penalized
because of the mistake of another government agency. Guido, 2073-BR-92.
The claimant misplaced his claim form, but found it within the grace
period and offered to personally deliver it to the agency
in order to insure its timely receipt. The agency insisted
that he mail the form. The claimant mailed the form three
days before the expiration of the grace period. The form
is presumed to have been delivered on time, the agency's
statement to the contrary notwithstanding. Subsequent
claims constituted "continued claims" and were appropriately
and timely filed by mail. Robinson, 1682-BR-93.
D. Effect of Written Instructions
The claimant received written instructions at the time
of filing his original claim and was scheduled to report
back approximately ten days later. Due to a medical problem,
the claimant was unable to keep the original appointment,
and made no effort to contact the agency for over one
month thereafter, even though he had received no claim
forms. The claimant was aware of the necessity of filing
claim forms each week because he had received written
instructions. Since the claimant filed no claim forms,
he failed to meet the requirements of Section 8-901. Boone, 511-BH-83.
Backdated claims will not be accepted where a claimant fails to
file weekly claims after receiving a written instruction
pamphlet which he simply failed to read thoroughly. The
claimant had the ability to understand the written instructions. Spigel, 580-BH-85.
E. Grace Period for Filing Claims
The claim form for the weeks ending February 4 and 11,
1989 was received by the agency on February 17, 1989.
Since the claim was received within 14 days of the week
two ending date, the claimant filed a proper claim for
benefits for the weeks in question. Schultz, 426-BR-89.
Under COMAR 09.32.02.04B(4), a continued claim "shall be filed and
received within 14 days of the week for which benefits
are claimed in order to be timely..." The claimant filed
a claim form for the weeks ending March 2 and March 9,
1991. The last date for it to be timely received was March
23, 1991, however, March 23, 1991 was a Saturday. The
agency offices are closed on Saturdays (as well as Sundays)
and do not receive mail deliveries. Therefore, it was
impossible for the claimant's claim form to have been
received on the 14th day, March 23, 1991. Any form normally
deliverable on March 23 could not have been received until
March 25, 1991 which is the day the claimant's form was
received. Under Article 94, Section 2 of the Annotated
Code of Maryland, when the last day of a period of time
prescribed by any statute falls on a Sunday or legal holiday,
the period of time runs until the end of the next day,
which is neither a Sunday nor a holiday. The Saturday
in this case is analogous to a legal holiday or Sunday;
therefore, the claimant filed proper claims for benefits
for the weeks ending March 2 and March 9, 1991. Powell, 827-BR-91.
The 16-day grace period for the filing of claims is extended to 17
days, where the 16th day was a federal and state holiday. Burton, 1760-BR-94.
Absent a showing either that the employer deliberately misled
the claimant, or that the employer, through an arrangement
with the Agency (DLLR), was acting in place of the agency
advising employees with regard to filing for unemployment
insurance, the Board found that an otherwise late-filing
claimant will not have good cause to overcome the requirement
to file timely and proper claims. Nutter v. Anne Arundel
Co. Economic Opportunity Commission, Inc., 915-BR-99.
F. Timely Attempts to Correct Errors
1. Timely Communication to Agency
When a claimant visits a local office in an attempt to file
a claim within the 14-day grace period, but is not given
a claim form, the claimant cannot be disqualified for not
filing that claim timely. Peralta, 708-BR-91.
A claimant put her claim forms for the first two weeks in a stamped
envelope and then lost them. She believed that she had
mailed them. She visited the local office twice during
the 14-day grace period to inquire about the fact that
she had not received her check. The claimant was not given
new claim forms to file. The reason for having a 14-day
grace period is to allow for errors, not only of the local
office and the postal service, but also of the claimants.
The claimant made a timely visit to correct her error,
even though she did not, at the time, realize that she
had made the error. She should not be disqualified for
filing that claim untimely. Bailey, 561-BR-92.
The claimant was advised to visit the unemployment office in person
if she had a problem with her claim forms. The claimant
did visit her local office in person. On neither of the
two occasions was she advised to do anything but wait.
There was no evidence that she was advised that the forms
which she kept receiving in the mail were invalid. The
claimant cannot be disqualified for failure to file claim
forms in a timely manner. Fields, 659-BR-93.
Since the claimant visited his local office on January
11, 1993, he should have been informed at that time of
the necessity of reopening his claim. He cannot, therefore,
be disqualified for the weeks ending January 16 and January
23, 1993 for a failure to file claims. Van Prooien, 1113-BR-93.
2. Failure to Follow Agency Instructions
For the weeks ending January 19, January 26, February 2
and February 9, 1991, the claimant failed to visit her
local office to obtain claim forms when the forms did not
come in the mail. She was advised of the necessity of
doing so, but chose not to do so, partly because of the
requirement of a one hour wait in line. Visiting the local
office in this situation is a requirement under COMAR
09.32.02.04B(1). The claimant failed to file timely claims
for benefits for the weeks ending January 19, January 26,
February 2 and February 9, 1991. Davis, 707-BR-91.
G. Removal from Claim Status
The claimant filed his first claim form for the week
ending April 9, 1988 late. Consequently, his claim was
closed and no further claim forms were mailed to him. The
claimant was considered to be out of claim status until he
reopened his claim. However, the claimant had not been
advised that filing late for one week would result in the
claim being closed. As a result of this late filing, the
claimant was denied benefits for the weeks ending April
16, April 23 and April 30, 1988. The claimant failed to
file a proper claim for the week ending April 9, 1988;
however, the claimant should not be denied benefits for
four weeks when in fact, his claims were only late for one
week. Butler, 841-BH-88.
The claimant filed a claim for the weeks ending January 6 and January
13, 1990. On this claim form, the claimant indicated that
he had worked and earned more than his weekly benefit
amount for the week ending January 6, 1990. For the week
ending January 13, 1990, the claimant indicated that he
had no earnings and claimed benefits for that week. The
next biweekly form, for the weeks ending January 20 and
January 27, 1990, was not mailed to the claimant. When
he did not receive it, he visited the local office on
January 29, 1990 and filed the forms in person. The claimant
was disqualified because when he indicated on the January
6 claim form that he earned more than his weekly benefit
amount, the computer closed his claim. His claim for January
13 was not paid and the agency stopped mailing him claim
forms. However, there is no statutory requirement that
claims be closed in this situation. The claimant filed
timely claims for benefits under Section 8-901. Simmons, 652-BH-90.
The claimant filed a timely claim for the weeks ending March 10 and
March 17, 1990. She had not filed a claim for the prior
two-week period because she was not seeking work for those
two weeks. When she did not receive a claim form for the
weeks ending March 10 and March 17, 1990, she used a claim
form that she had that was marked "void" and wrote in
the dates. She then mailed in the form to the agency.
The agency's computer would not accept the form because
the claimant's claim was closed when she failed to return
the earlier claim form. The Board has held that the agency
cannot close a claim without reasonable justification
and the agency cannot deem a claim untimely because the
data processing system is programmed to close cases in
such a situation. The claimant's not filing one claim
form does not justify the closing down of her claim and
the claimant therefore, filed a proper claim. Goldstein, 723-BR-90.
II. Mitigating Factors
A. Agency Error: Waiver of Section 8-901 Requirements
The agency's repeated statements to the claimant that he
should "wait" before he filed, coupled with his repeated
inquiries which showed that he made every reasonable attempt
to file, resulted in a waiver of the usual filing requirements. Saeed, 835-BR-86.
The claimant was laid off on July 10, 1987. The claimant's job was
eliminated and he was awarded three months of severance
pay. The agency informed the claimant that there was no
point in immediately filing for benefits because he would
not be eligible until he had exhausted his severance pay.
Subsequently, he learned that he would not be disqualified
because his job had been eliminated and the statute provides
that severance pay will not be deducted from benefits
when a claimant's job has been abolished. The claimant
requested that his claims be backdated until July, 1987
based on the misinformation given to him on two occasions
by the agency. If a claimant is misled by the agency into
not filing a claim, the regulations promulgated pursuant
to Section 8-901 should be waived by the agency and not
be held against the claimant if he follows agency advice.
Since no reasonable person would have filed a claim under
these circumstances, the claimant is not disqualified
under Section 8-901. Gordon, 222-BH-88.
The claimant opened his claim on January 10, 1990. He was told that
his claim form would come in the mail in a few days. When
it did not come, he began repeatedly calling the local
office. He was repeatedly told that the form would come
in a few days, however, it still did not come. The claimant
also visited the local office two or three times during
this period in an attempt to straighten out his claim.
It was during this time that he learned that he had been
disqualified for the four previous weeks for failing to
file claim forms. The claimant made every reasonable attempt
to file claim forms for the weeks in question and was
deterred only by agency error; therefore, his claims should
be allowed. Williams, 469-BR-90.
Since the hearing examiner found that the claim for the week ending
April 20, 1991 was returned by the claimant in a timely
manner, the claimant's failure to file the subsequent
weeks' claims within 14 days was due to the agency's error
in not sending the claim forms, within the meaning of
COMAR 09.32.02.04B(4)(a). Under this regulation, the subsequent
claims are timely filed. The claimant is entitled to rely
on specific information given to him personally by unemployment
insurance personnel where it modifies general language
in a pamphlet, at least where this information does not
address any substantive issue of eligibility. The claimant
filed proper claims for benefits under Section 8-901. Voxakis, 1030-BR-91.
When the claim form for the weeks ending July 20 and 27 did not
come in the mail, the claimant called the local office
to ask about this and was specifically told to wait. The
claimant then repeatedly contacted both her local office
and the central office in Baltimore about her claim over
a period of weeks but was not told to come in until August
13. At one point, she was given conflicting information
from the local office as to whether the form had been
received. Although the claimant did not file timely claims,
she was making repeated contacts to the agency and she
was instructed to be patient and wait. The claimant should
not be penalized for following the instructions she was given. Wall, 372-BR-92.
B. Specific Agency Directions
The agency gave the claimant specific instructions for
filing his claim and the claimant followed these instructions
exactly. Whenever a finding of fact is made that the agency
modified a reporting requirement and that the claimant
complied with that modified requirement, no disqualification
is appropriate. The claimant filed claims in accordance
with agency instructions and no disqualification based
on Section 8-901 was imposed. Chew, 879-BR-87.
A claimant followed the specific directions on his claim form. Since
the claimant followed the specific directions, he cannot
be disqualified, because specific directions on his particular
case given to a claimant override any contrary general
instructions in the pamphlet. Weeks, 117-BR-92.
C. Employer's Failure to Provide Documents
A claimant cannot be held responsible for the employer's
failure to provide a required document. Nagy, 1470-BR-92.