Maryland Unemployment Benefits to be Paid by Debit Card


DLLR eliminates paper unemployment checks, saving money and time

BALTIMORE (December 1, 2008) - Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Thomas E. Perez today announced that all new recipients of unemployment insurance benefits will receive automatic payments through prepaid debit cards, eliminating the need for paper checks and saving the state $400,000 a year.

"Marylanders who find themselves unexpectedly unemployed need access to unemployment insurance benefits fast, so they can continue paying for their living expenses and contributing to the local economy," Secretary Perez said. "As the national economic downturn leads to more Marylanders out of work, this switch to prepaid debit cards will create a more efficient and safer process for the State, and for its residents in need."

The State of Maryland's Treasurer's Office and the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation have entered into a contract with CitiŽ Prepaid Services to provide the debit cards, which will receive electronic payments automatically. Claimants will have the option of having payments directly forwarded to their own bank account. The switch to plastic substantially reduces the costs of postage, paper, staff time and processing associated with the nearly one million checks issued each year by the Division of Unemployment Insurance.

"This new program eliminates the problems caused by lost or delayed checks, and can save beneficiaries the costs of fees sometimes associated with cashing checks. It's a great program for our State, and for our residents," Unemployment Insurance Assistant Secretary Thomas Wendel said.

With their Citi Prepaid debit cards, unemployment insurance claimants will be able to:

  • Access fee-free funds at ATMs within the Citi network
  • Make fee-free purchases everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted
  • Access fee-free cash at Visa member banks
  • Access fee-free cash at participating retailers
  • Manage their account online or make bank transfers for free
  • Access their account via toll-free interactive voice response system

Also, cardholders are supported by 24/7/365 multilingual Customer Service to assist with any questions or issues that may arise.

Unemployment Insurance claimants are required to register with the Maryland Workforce Exchange Web site, which can help them connect with employers. They will receive an informational brochure with instructions for registration after an initial claim for unemployment benefits is filed.

You can find more information on the Division of Unemployment Insurance page.