COVID-19 Unemployment Resources

All unemployment claims should be filed through the UI online portal. Submitting your claim via this portal is the quickest way to get your claim started! The Disaster Unemployment Decleration has been approved by the President and the Federal stimulus package, the CARES Act, has been passed, providing additional resources for Unemployment Insurance. 

A tip from Governor Baker: When filing your application, ensure the employer name on your application matches the employer name listed on your W2. 

For example: if you work at Dunkin Donuts, make sure when listing the business name you include the specific franchise or corporation that owns the Dunkin Donuts location to make sure your claim is processed properly

UI Eligibility:

  • Your employer, whether public or private, has been paying into unemployment insurance, you are eligible
  • In addition to being unemployed, you are also eligible to receive unemployment benefits for the following reasons:
    • You are quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional
    • You leave employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection
    • You leave employment to care for a family member
    • No medical documentation is required to collect unemployment during this public health emergency, but you must be available for work as you are able, and be willing to work remotely.
  • If you are self-employed, file a 1099, an independent contractor, or some non-profit employees are now eligible for unemployment insurance through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Portal.
    • Previously: Massachusetts is creating the online portal to allow this population of individuals to apply for benefits.
    • Previously: ineligible for unemployment insurance at this time. Governor Baker has filed a request to the President for a “Disaster Unemployment Declaration”, which would provide funding for unemployment benefits to be available for this population.
  • If you are currently collecting unemployment benefits and have utilized your 26 weeks of eligibility, the CARES Act has extended eligibility for 13 further weeks. Massachusetts is awaiting guidance on how to implement this extension.
    • Previosuly: you may only collect benefits for 26 weeks out of the 52 weeks in the year. Unless the Disaster Unemployment Declaration is approved by the President, you will not be allowed to collect unemployment after the 26 week mark has been reached.

I am working to advocate for you on the state level to increase funding to UI so that self-employed individuals and gig economy workers will be eligible. Continue to follow the newsletters for updates on UI, as eligibility is evolving daily.

Changes to UI Applications in response to COVID-19:

  • All requirements for attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
  • Deadlines missed by employers and claimants due to impacts of COVID-19 may be excused under DUA’s good cause provision.
  • Employers whose businesses are severely impacted by COVID-19 can request extensions for filing and paying unemployment contributions.
  • Worksearch requirements will be interpreted to allow claimants affected by COVID-19 to collect benefits.
  • All appeal hearings will be held only by telephone.
  • Once a claim is approved, the one-week waiting period for payments has been eliminated.

Resources for filing claims

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of Unemployment Assistance is experiencing higher volume of applications than normal. The DUA expresses their appreciation for your patience during the process. DUA will be processing claims in the order in which they have been received and has increased staffing to accommodate the increased volume of claims.

In the meantime, my office encourages you to take advantage of the following resources to answer UI related questions.

1. Attend a virtual town hall:

Unemployment Assistance town halls are a great place to ask questions related to unemployment claims, hear other constituents' questions, and receive answers directly from DUA. 

The town halls will be occurring on the following days and times, with new times being updated weekly on the DUA mass.gov website:

  • Friday, May 1 at 2:20 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 2 at 2:30 p.m. (Spanish Language)
  • Sunday May 3 at 2:30 p.m.

 

For more information, use this link. Town Halls can be joined via phone or via online access. 

2. Submit a contact request form with DUA

Due to the high number of claims being filed, legislative inquiries to DUA are not receiving expedited responses. Rather, DUA suggests that constituents contact DUA directly with questions. 

To do so, fill out this contact form and a DUA agent will contact you as soon as possible. A spanish contact form is available as well. It may take a few days for DUA to respond to your request after completing the form. 

3. Additional information from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Mass.gov has important information and answers to many questions regarding filing for benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak on their website, here

On their website you will find information on the following topics:

DUA thanks you for your patience throughout this process. Due to their high volume of claims, they will be processing requests in the order they were received.

CARES Act Updates

As of April 9th, all eligible claimants, whether new applicants or already enrolled, will receive the $600 increase in benefits with this increase being retroactive to March 29th and extending until July 31st.

  • Individuals currently receiving benefits need not take any action to receive these increase benefits

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: DUA is working with a vendor to create a UI application portal for self-employed, 1099, and gig-economy workers who are newly eligible UI.

  • The portal is expected to be available by the end of the month
  • Eligible claimants will be able to receive benefits back-dated until February 2nd, 2020, or the first week after that date that the claimant was unable to work due to COVID-19. The last week these benefits will be available is the week of December 26, 2020.
  • Check for updates, here.

The extended 13 weeks of benefits for individuals who have utilized all covered time is not available yet. Massacusetts is awaiting guidance from the federal government on next steps.

  • The first week this benefit can be retroactively available is March 29, 2020, extending until December 26, 2020.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA is now available to workers who are  not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits including: self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history, and in addition to others.

It is highly encouraged that you fill out this form very carefully and double-check all responses, as small errors can take multiple days to correct.

Benefit information:

  • Initially, all applicants will receive the minimum amount of benefits plus the additional $600 per week
  • The maximum PUA benefit will be $823, based on typical UI benefits
  • Once wages are verified, additional benefits may be allocated to recipients
  • Benefits are retroactive to January 27, 2020 or the date that the applicant became unemployed
  • Individuals determined ineligible will receive a written disqualification notification and information on how to appeal their claim

Please find more information on the PUA application process here and the PUA application handbook here.

  • Guía de Asistencia para Beneficios de Desempleo por Pandemia, aquí.

Still have questions or need assistance?

Should you run into problems filing your application or receive no response after completing the contact request form after 5 business days, my office is willing to inquire on your behalf.

If you are a constituent of Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier of the 3rd Berkshire District (most of Pittsfield except Precinct 1B), email my legislative aide Lisa Fletcher-Udel at lisa.fletcherudel@mahouse.gov.

  • Include your name, address, phone number and the problem that you're having

Please use this link to confirm who your state representative and senator are to ensure you reach out to the proper office. This link will provide you with the contact information as well!

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