Massachusetts unemployment benefits, explained.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), which is a part of Massachusetts’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) oversees the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program in Massachusetts. Benefits from the UI program serve as temporary income for those who become out of work at no fault of their own and remain able and available to work. Massachusetts unemployment eligibility depends on a few factors, including your work history and the amount of wages you earned while working in the state of Massachusetts.

How Unemployment Works in Massachusetts

And How To Get Unemployment in Massachusetts

  1. As soon as you become unemployed, you must file for Massachusetts unemployment, either over the phone, online, or in person through a Massachusetts unemployment office.
  2. Anticipate a waiting time of two weeks after submitting a state of Massachusetts unemployment application. From there, you will receive an approval or rejection notice.
  3. If your application for Massachusetts unemployment compensation was denied, you will need to file an appeal within 10 days to have your case reconsidered. 
  4. If you have been approved to receive funds, your Massachusetts unemployment amount — the weekly payment you receive — will be determined by how much you made at your previous employer. The maximum amount is $742 per week for up to 30 weeks.
  5. While receiving benefits, you will be required to file Massachusetts unemployment weekly claims. This verification proves you are searching for new work and will ensure you continue to receive your benefits.

What to do if you recently lost your job through no fault of your own in MA

Many individuals who recently lost their job may be unfamiliar with the Massachusetts unemployment claims process. These steps will help you get on the right track to receiving Massachusetts unemployment benefits should you be eligible:

  • Begin the Massachusetts unemployment claim filing process as soon as possible after losing your job
  • File your claim online through UI online or through DUA’s TeleClaim Center
  • Have all necessary information ready before beginning your claim (See What information do I need to provide when applying for Massachusetts unemployment benefits? below)
  • Even if you received severance pay upon separation from work you may still be eligible for benefits. File a claim to determine eligibility.

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What are the eligibility requirements to qualify for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts unemployment laws require you to:

  • Have legal authorization to work in the U.S.
  • Be unemployed or working significantly reduces hours through no fault of your own
  • Actively be looking for work every week
  • Be willing and able to accept suitable work should it be offered to you
  • Earned at least $4,300 during the last 4 complete calendar quarters
  • Earned 30 times the weekly benefit amount you’d be eligible to collect

Individuals in the following occupations may not be eligible:

  • Member of legislative or judicial body
  • Elected official
  • Government official with advisory or policy-making duties
  • Church staff
  • Employee of certain other religious organizations
  • Trainee in a program run by a public or nonprofit institution
  • Independent consultant

Eligibility must be maintained every week you received benefits. The following can affect your Massachusetts unemployment benefits eligibility:

  • Refusing work, quitting or getting fired
  • Being unable and unavailable for work
  • Not actively seeking work
  • Attending school or training full-time
  • Beginning self-employment
  • Working while collecting benefits

What information do I need to apply for Massachusetts unemployment benefits?

It is important to gather all the necessary information and documentation needed to prove eligibility before you begin your claim. Claims missing information will not be filed and it will take longer to get your first benefit check. To apply for MA UI benefits you will need to provide:

  • Social Security or alien registration number
  • Address of where you live
  • Mailing address
  • Contact phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Most recent 15 months of employment history (employer name, phone number, reason for leaving, start/end dates, recall dates)
  • Social Security numbers and date of birth for any dependents
  • Union name and local number, if applicable
  • Email address (optional)
  • Bank account number and routing number (optional for direct deposit)

How do I apply for Massachusetts unemployment benefits online?

To make things easier for claimants, employers and staff, DUA uses UI Online, a web-based service, as a portal for claims processing and other services. Some of the services claimants can use this Massachusetts unemployment website for include:

  • Apply for UI benefits
  • Put in a request for a benefit payment
  • Check your claim or benefit payment status
  • Update personal information

To apply for MA UI benefits online:

  • Go to UI Online
  • Click Apply for Benefits
  • Type in your social security number when prompted
  • Follow instructions to complete and submit your claim

It is best to have all information ready before beginning your claim. However, should you need to leave and return to the Massachusetts unemployment application, your information will be stored until 10 p.m. on the Saturday of the week you started it.

It is important to remember your password as you’ll need it each time you login to access DUA services. For questions about this online system or Massachusetts unemployment, contact the Department of Unemployment Assistance.

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How do I apply for Massachusetts unemployment benefits over the phone?

You may also file your UI claim over the phone using TeleClaim, the Massachusetts unemployment phone number. From area codes 351, 413, 508, 774, and 978 call 1-877-626-6800. Call 1-617-626-6800 if you reside in any others. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If using this system you must follow the call schedule. If you Social Security Number ends in:

  • 0 or 1 call on Monday
  • 2 or 3 call on Tuesday
  • 4, 5 or 6 call on Wednesday
  • 7, 8 or 9 call on Thursday
  • Anyone may call on Friday

Through the Massachusetts unemployment number, can file a claim, reopen a claim, get interviewed to highlight any issues your may have regarding eligibility, check in on the status of your claim or UI benefit payment check and address other issues related to your UI benefits.

To file Massachusetts unemployment claims, call the TeleClaim Center on the day designated per the schedule above. Press #1 for English and #1 again to be connected with an agent. You will need to have all information noted in the section above ready when you call to file your claims.

If you wish to take advantage of other phone services, you should select one of the following menu options after selecting your language:

  • #2 to update your current claim or check on payment status
  • #3 to enroll in direct deposit
  • #4 if you need customer assistance

How do I apply for Massachusetts unemployment benefits in person?

There is only one location that accepts in-person UI claims in MA. If you’d like to file your Massachusetts unemployment claim this way, visit the Boston walk-in center located at 19 Staniford St., Boston, MA 02114. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information on Massachusetts unemployment office locations, visit our guide.

What happens after I apply for UI benefits?

After you apply for MA UI benefits, it will take at least 2 weeks to process your claim. Here’s what should happen during that time:

  • While on UI benefits you have to submit Massachusetts unemployment weekly claims. These are different from and simpler than your initial claim. You should request weekly benefits even before your eligibility is determined by DUA.
  • Confirm your email address through the message sent to your inbox if you provided one to DUA.
  • DUA will review your claim applications and verify facts with your previous employer(s).
  • If eligibility is questioned you will receive a Non-Monetary Determination, a document that reports whether or not you’ve been deemed eligible to receive benefits.
  • If eligible, DUA will send you your Monetary Determination, a document that reports how much you money you’re potentially able to get in UI benefits.
  • You have 10 days to appeal the decision if your application is denied (See How to appeal the decision if my Massachusetts unemployment benefit claim is denied section below for more information).

What are the work search requirements for receiving unemployment benefits in Massachusetts? Is job search assistance available?

One of the key components to UI benefit eligibility is an active job search. Claimants are required to submit their job search activities with each Massachusetts weekly claim. Required activities include:

  • Conduct at least three work searches on three separate days during the week
  • Maintain a detailed record of job search activities and bring a printed copy to any career center appointments
  • Provide work search information anytime to DUA upon request

Many job search assistance services, such as workshops, short-term training, résumé development, cover letter assistance and direct work with experienced career counselors is available at no cost through One-Stop Career Centers. There are over 30 centers located throughout the state.

Additionally, if you meet Massachusetts unemployment qualifications, there is a chance you are also eligible for training benefits from the Training Opportunities Program. This program gives participants an opportunity to develop new skills to reenter the workforce while still receiving benefits.

How much will my Massachusetts unemployment insurance payments be? How soon will I get paid? How long can I receive benefits?

Your Massachusetts unemployment amount (also called a weekly benefit amount) is based on income earned in the last four complete calendar quarters that you worked. You will receive about 50% of you average weekly pay with a maximum benefit amount of $742 per week. There is an additional $25 payment for each dependent child if you are the main support.

You can estimate your weekly benefit amount using this information.

For individuals who A) only worked in MA and B) are part of a layoff, it generally takes 2-3 weeks to process your claim. If your employer disputes the reason you were separated from work it can take several more weeks to receive benefits while facts are examined to make a claim determination. If deemed eligible for benefits, you will receive back pay if you request benefit payments while the claim is being processed.

A “waiting period” occurs during the first week after claiming benefits. Regardless of eligibility, you will not receive a benefit payment during or any back pay after this time.

The maximum amount of time an individual can receive UI benefits is 30 weeks. However, many do not qualify for the full 30 weeks. To calculate how long you can receive benefits divide your maximum benefit amount by your weekly benefit amount. Massachusetts unemployment extensions are rare, and are often only provided on a case-by-case basis in situations where the Massachusetts unemployment rate is exceptionally high.

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I acknowledge and understand that by submitting this Contact Request form through clicking "Check Eligibility!", I provide my express consent to the following: (1) That I am bound by Eligibility.com LLC’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use; (2) That I am not required to submit this form, and thereby agree to all terms located herein, as a condition to receive any property, goods, or services that may be offered, and that I may revoke my consent at any time.

How to appeal the decision if my Massachusetts unemployment benefit claim is denied

If you think your eligibility has been wrongfully denied or your benefit payments miscalculated, you can appeal a UI benefit determination made by DUA. You will receive instructions on how to appeal in the written Notice of Disqualification sent out by the Massachusetts unemployment department. You have 10 days from the mailing date of this document to submit your appeal.

You may submit your appeal two ways — online via UI Online or by mail via a written request for appeal. While your appeal decision is being determined you should request weekly benefits. If you do not request weekly benefits during this time you may not be entitled to back pay should the decision go in your favor — you will not receive benefits for any weeks you do not request them.

The first level of appeal results in a hearing. The Hearings Department receives your appeal and sends out details on the date and time of your hearing. Review Examiners conduct the hearings in person or over the phone. The Review Examiner will examine evidence and listen to testimony in order to issue a written decision.

If you disagree with the hearing outcome, you can move into the second level of appeal — Board of Review. You have 30 days after the decision is mailed from the Review Examiner’s decision to make your appeal. If accepted, the Board of Review it will make a decisions based on the materials from the hearing, including a recording of that hearing. If the Board of Review denies your claim, it can be appeals at a final level — District Court, which follows a similar process.

Though you have every right to do so, appealing beyond the Hearings Department rarely results in an overturn of decisions made by the lower level claims and appeals entities.

Massachusetts Unemployment: Terms You Should Know

Appeal: Request for a review of eligibility determination. An appeal can challenge determination of overall eligibility or benefit amount and will be settled via a hearing.

Base period: A 52-week period consisting of the four calendar quarters before the benefit year begins.

Benefit year: A 52-week period after the claim effective date.

Determination: Mailed document title Monetary Determination or Non-Monetary Determination that reports eligibility and benefits amount.

Maximum benefit amount: Limit on the total amount of UI benefits an individual is eligible to receive in any given benefit year should all other Massachusetts unemployment requirements be met.

Monetary eligibility: Benefit eligibility based on earnings and length of time employed during the base period.

TeleCert: Interactive telephone system used for requesting weekly benefits after an initial claim is filed. Available in English and Spanish.

Weekly benefit amount: Total monetary benefits you are allowed to receive each week. Does not include any payment for dependents. Amount equals 50% of your average weekly earnings up to the current maximum weekly benefit amount.