How to File for Unemployment in Massachusetts
Becoming suddenly unemployed can be anxiety provoking and overwhelming, and although it may seem complicated, it is actually a rather clear-cut process. You should try to apply for unemployment benefits within the first week of becoming unemployed. In the state of Massachusetts, you can file for unemployment online through the UI Online portal, in person at 19 Staniford St. Boston, MA 02114, or by calling 877-626-6800. To apply for unemployment benefits check your eligibility, prepare your documents, submit your claim, and understand your allotted benefits. Claims are usually processed within 21-28 days.
Checking Your Eligibility
Determine the reason you left your job.You are eligible to receive unemployment benefits if you were laid off due to reduction-in-force or if you were let go because your employer had to make cuts due to economic hardship. You are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits if you quit your job. However, if you quit due to a dangerous work environment, discrimination by your employer, or misconduct by another employee or employer, you may still be eligible to receive benefits.
- If you were let go because you failed to perform the duties of your job, were fired due to intentional misconduct, or violated a reasonable or regularly enforced rule, then you may not be eligible for benefits.
- If the rule you violated was due to incompetence, you may still be eligible.
- If you were forced to leave your job because of an urgent situation such as domestic violence or other critical personal issues, you are still eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
- You will not qualify if you have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.
Have made at least ,700 during your base period.The base period is the most recent 4 or 5 complete calendar quarters you worked during the last year. The quarters chosen are the earliest ones completed before you filed your claim.
- To determine how much you earned in your base period, add your wages from the last 4 completed calendar quarters. If this number is more than ,700, then you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
- If you do not meet the minimum eligibility requirements, you can ask to receive an alternate base period of the last 3 completed calendar quarters and the time between your last quarter and the effective date of your claim.
Make 3 work search attempts, on separate days, per week.To remain eligible while you receive unemployment benefits, you must be actively seeking employment. The state of Massachusetts requires you to make 3 work search attempts every week while receiving unemployment status. You have completed a work search attempt once you have applied for a job opening. Often, you must register with MassHire, a career center provided by the state. This is where you will conduct your work search. You may also be required to attend career seminars to maintain your eligibility.
- To register or for more information on MassHire visit .
- You must log all of your work search attempts. The job search log is located at . You may need to submit your log each week to the Department of Unemployment Assistance.
Be physically able and available to work.While you are receiving unemployment insurance, you must be available to work any hours that a potential employer may offer. You also must be physically able to work.
- If you decide to enroll in school while receiving benefits, you have to change your class schedule to fit the needs of the employer. However, these hours must be comparable to the hours you worked for your previous employer.
Take any suitable work offers.If you are getting unemployment insurance, it is mandatory that you take any work offers that relate to your previous work experience. Work offers are considered suitable if they are comparable to your previous employment. The offer must also require similar skills, pay, environment, and training that was utilized with your previous employer.
- If you refuse a suitable job offer, limit the number of hours you can work, or are fired from your new job, you may lose your unemployment benefits.
- The longer you remain unemployed, you may need to accept jobs that are outside of your field, take slightly lower pay, or have a longer commute to work.
Report any other income or self-employment.While you receive unemployment insurance you have to report any income made during that time. If you do not notify the unemployment office of all of your income, you may lose your eligibility to receive any unemployment assistance. In some cases you may be able to receive benefits if you are self-employed.
- If you are self-employed your benefits will be delayed and the unemployment office will need to review your case. There is the possibility that you will not qualify to receive future benefits or your weekly benefits will be reduced.
- For questions about your self-employment status, reportable income, and how it relates to your unemployment eligibility, contact the Department of Unemployment Assistance at 617-626-6800.
Disclose any full-time or part-time work.If you work part-time while getting unemployment, you can still receive benefits if your gross wages (total amount before tax deductions) are less than the amount of the benefits you get weekly. If you work full-time for any week while getting benefits you will no longer be eligible to receive benefits for that week.
- If you earn more than 1/3rd of the amount of your weekly benefit while working part-time, your weekly benefit amount will be deducted dollar-for-dollar. Earning over 1/3rd the amount of your benefits is also known as your earning disregard.
- To calculate your earnings disregard, divide the amount of your weekly benefit by 3 or 1/3. If the amount you make working part-time is over that number, then subtract 1/3 of your benefits from your part-time wages. This number will be how much your weekly benefits will be reduced while you continue to work part-time.
- Full-time is considered between 35 and 40 hours of work in 1 week.
- If you work full-time any week you will lose your eligibility regardless of how much you were paid for that week.
Preparing the Proper Documentation
Have all of your personal information on hand.When you apply for unemployment benefits you must provide all of your personal information including any current and past names, your Social Security Number, your date of birth, your home address, and your phone number.
- You may be required to provide an email address as well.
- If you have children, you must include all of their birth dates and Social Security numbers.
- If you are not a citizen of the United States, you are required to provide your Alien Registration Number.
- You may also provide your Permanent Resident Card, and any information that says you can legally work in the United States. Although this information is not required, if you choose not to provide it the DUA will not accept your application for unemployment benefits even if you meet the other eligibility requirements.
- If you are not a U.S. citizen will provide you with additional fact sheets and information on unemployment benefits.
- Any papers that are dishonest or altered to falsify your eligibility will result in action by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
List all of your previous employers within the last 15 months.To determine your eligibility, you must provide a list of any employer you had over the 15 months prior to filing for unemployment. You need to list the names of the employers, their business address, and phone numbers. You also need to provide your work start and end dates along with your reason for leaving those jobs.
- You must disclose if you have a recall date, meaning you were let go temporarily and have a set date to return to work.
- If you are part of a union, in some cases, you may be required to provide the name of your union and their local phone number.
Complete the forms for military or federal government employees.This is not applicable to everyone, but if you served in the military or were employed by the federal government, then there are separate forms you need to fill out. If you were in the military you need your DD-214 Member 4 form. If you worked for the federal government you may choose to submit your SF8 form.
- For members of the military who do not have your DD-214 Member 4 form, you can request one online at .
Know your bank account information for direct deposit.Once you are approved, you may opt to receive your weekly benefits through direct deposit. If you choose this option you must provide your bank name, account number, and your routing number.
- If you decide not to use direct deposit the DUA will send you a debit card that will be loaded with your benefits weekly.
Submitting Your Benefits Claim
Use the UI Online portal to file for benefits online.To use the UI portal, you need to create an online account before you can file your claim. Once you register, go to the login screen and enter your SSN when prompted to do so. You will be asked to enter your Social Security number twice before continuing.
- Visit to reach the UI Online portal.
- If you have previously filed for unemployment in Massachusetts and forgot your password, go to the log in screen and enter in your SSN twice. Then click the ‘Forgot Password’ button and follow the prompts to verify your identity.
- If you do not have access to a computer, a MassHire career center location will allow you to use one of their computers to file your claim. You can find MassHire career center locations by visiting the MassHire website.
Call the TeleClaim Center to file by phone.The TeleClaim Center is there to help you file your benefits claim over the phone or to answer any questions you may have regarding unemployment benefits. They also have the option to schedule a call back so you can avoid long hold times. You can reach TeleClaim Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. through 4:40 p.m. at 877-626-6800. The last digit of your SSN will determine your designated day to call.
- The TeleClaim call center schedule is: Monday: numbers 0 and 1, Tuesday: 2 and 3. Wednesday: 4, 5, and 6, Thursday 7, 8, and 9 and Friday is open to all callers.
- If you are calling from area codes ‘351,’ ‘413,’ ‘508,’ ‘774,’ or ‘978’ call the number above. If you are calling from any other area code call 617-626-6800.
- If you need Voice Relay call ‘711.’
File your claim in person by visiting the walk-in center.Although the walk-in center is primarily used to get in-person assistance with questions and concerns about unemployment benefits, you are able to file a claim there. The walk-in center is located at 19 Staniford St., Boston, MA 02114.
- The walk-in center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Appeal your claim if you are denied benefits.If your claim for unemployment benefits has been denied, you have the right to appeal the decision within 10 days from the mailing date on your Notice of Disqualification. You can apply for your appeal either online through your UI account or by mailing the Appeal Request Information form to the Department of Unemployment Assistance Hearings Department 19 Staniford St. Boston, MA 02114.
- You will receive the Appeal Request Information form along with your Notice of Disqualification. You can also write a letter asking for an appeal. Make sure to include your phone number, claimant ID, and signature.
- You will receive a response by mail along with The Notice of Hearing that will provide you with the time and date of your appeal hearing.
- Continue to request benefits while you are waiting for your appeal decision. If you are approved, you will receive payment for the weeks you requested benefits.
- If you fail to file an appeal within 10 days, you may still request an appeal as long as you have a valid reason for missing the deadline.
- For more information on appeals visit .
Understanding Your Benefits
Know the amount of time you can receive benefits.The duration of benefits is the amount of time you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. It is determined by dividing your maximum benefit by your weekly benefit amount. The maximum amount of time you can receive unemployment benefits is 30 weeks.
- During times of low unemployment, the duration for receiving benefits is capped at 26 weeks.
Understand your weekly benefits amount.Upon approval for benefits you will receive a benefit rate, which is the amount of your weekly benefits. To calculate your benefit rate, take the average weekly wage from the two highest calendar quarters during your base year.
- Your base year will be the same one you used when determining your eligibility.
- The maximum benefit rate it 9 a week for 30 weeks.
- If you do not agree with the decision of your weekly benefits rate, you have the right to submit an appeal.
Determine your eligibility for a dependency allowance.A dependency allowance is granted to those who are the main support for a child. Weekly dependency allowances are per dependent child. The total allowance you receive cannot exceed 50% of your weekly benefit amount.
- To be eligible for a dependency allowance you must be the main support for a child under the age of 18, support a full-time student that is under 24 years old, or care for a child over 18 that is incapacitated due to a disability.
- A dependency allowance will be rewarded at the time you are approved for your benefits.
- Make sure you are honest when providing all documentation.
- Apply for benefits within the first week of becoming unemployed.
- Check your eligibility before applying.
- Gather all of the necessary documents before beginning the application.
- Actively seek employment and take any suitable job offers.
- Report any taxable income, including self-employment.
- Ask questions about anything you do not understand or are unsure about.
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