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Guide Unemployment Insurance (UI) eligibility and benefit amounts

Unemployment Insurance (UI) offers benefits to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Learn more about eligibility, and how your benefits are determined.

Table of Contents

Overview

Most Massachusetts workers are covered by the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, although workers in some jobs may not be eligible for benefits.

Eligibility

When you apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI), your initial eligibility for benefits is based on a number of factors, including your earnings and your reason for leaving your job. Ongoing eligibility requirements include being able to work, available for work, and actively searching for work.

To be eligible (UI) benefits, you must: 

  • Have earned at least: 
    • $5,400 during the last 4 completed calendar quarters, and 
    • 26 times the weekly benefit amount you would be eligible to collect 
  • Be legally authorized to work in the U.S. 
  • Be unemployed, or working significantly reduced hours, through no fault of your own 
  • Be able and willing to begin suitable work without delay when offered 

What happens after you apply:

  • You will receive a "monetary determination” that will tell you the amount of benefits to which you are entitled if your claim is approved. This determination alone does not mean you are eligible. You may be denied benefits even if you have a monetary determination showing what your weekly benefit amount would be if your claim is approved.
  • If there is an issue on your claim, a determination will be sent, which indicates whether or not you are eligible for benefits.
  • If there are no issues on your claim, once a monetary determination is made, you will receive payments retroactively for any weeks you requested benefits.

Benefit amount and what affects it

If you are eligible to receive UI benefits, you will receive a weekly benefit amount of approximately 50% of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum set by law. As of Oct. 4, 2020, the maximum weekly benefit amount is $855 per week, which does not include any additional dependency allowance.

Several factors can affect your weekly benefit amount including part-time work, self-employment, going to school full-time, and travel.

Additional Resources for Benefit amount and what affects it

Taxes and UI benefits

You’re responsible for paying federal and state income taxes on the unemployment benefits you receive. The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) does not automatically withhold taxes, but you may request that taxes be withheld from your weekly benefits when you file your claim. 

DUA will send you the tax form you need by Jan. 31 of the year after you receive benefits. This tax form is called Form 1099-G. 

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