Earnings are payments in any form for any work or service you perform, including self-employment. Even if you have not been paid for this work when you are signing for your benefits, you must report the amount you earned during the week for which you are signing.
DUA will adjust your benefits according to a formula set by law. You are allowed to earn up to 1/3 (one-third) of your weekly benefit rate (not including dependency allowance) each week before deductions are made from your benefit check.
If your weekly benefit rate is $270 a week, you can earn $90 a week without deductions from your UI benefits. If you earned $120 a week, $90 would be disregarded and $30 would be deducted from your UI check. You would receive $240 in benefits, plus any dependency allowances.
Any earnings in excess of 1/3 rd of the weekly benefit amount are deducted from the benefit amount until the benefit amount is reduced to $0. Any claimant who works full-time in any given week is considered employed "full time" regardless of earnings and is not eligible for UI benefits for that week. Full time is generally between 35 and 40 hours per week. You are considered employed full time if you are working the customary full time schedule in your job or occupation.
All remuneration from part-time earnings should be reported for the week when earned, NOT the week when paid (i.e. the week in which the work was performed, NOT the week when the payment for the work was received). This is particularly problematic when dealing with commission payments; however the existing law does not provide any exceptions. In essence, when a claimant becomes aware of how much s/he earned for a week previously claimed on UI, s/he should contact the DUA Call Center and report the earnings. If the work was performed prior to the individual becoming unemployed and filing a claim for UI, the earnings would not have to be reported.
You may want to accept temporary full-time employment during the period you are eligible for UI benefits.
Working Full-Time During Your Benefit Year
If you do not claim benefits for one week or more, you will have to reopen your claim. This can be done easily by calling the TeleClaim Center.
What You Should Know Before You Accept Work
It is important for you to understand that once you accept employment, you are held to the same eligibility requirements as you were when you filed your initial claim. This means that if you quit a job without good cause or are fired for misconduct, you can be disqualified for the remainder of your claim. This applies even if you work for a very short period of time and the employer reports that you quit or were fired for deliberate misconduct.
If this happens, an issue will be established on your claim, and you will need to speak to a service representative. If you are disqualified, you have the right to appeal.
Protecting the integrity of the UI Trust Fund, into which employer contributions are deposited to pay for employees' benefits, is a responsibility DUA takes seriously.
Numerous actions are taken to prevent the fraudulent collecting of benefits. A comparison or "cross match" program comparing wage records from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and the UI database is aimed at ensuring that claimants who work part-time while collecting unemployment insurance benefits report those earnings to DUA.
The Department of Revenue also provides DUA with a report of new workers added to employers' payrolls. This report is also matched against UI records to check that claimants who return to work do not continue to collect benefits. Remember: Eligibility for benefits ends on the day a claimant starts full-time work.
To prevent fraud, DUA also matches records with those of other state and federal agencies including the Social Security Administration, the state Department of Corrections, and others.
The DUA Fraud Hotline can be reached toll-free at 1-800-354-9927 to report claimants who are collecting benefits while working full-time and to report employers who are paying workers and not reporting wages.