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Guide What to do if you’ve become unemployed in Massachusetts

This is a guide about unemployment benefits, career services, and finding a new job.

Table of Contents

Overview

We know losing your job is stressful. The information and resources in this guide are available to support you while you seek new employment.

If you’re out of work and able and available to work, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI). If you qualify, you will receive weekly payments while you search for a new job. The amount you receive is based on what you earned in the last year.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) manages the UI program for Massachusetts. The MassHire Department of Career Services provides free resources to help you get back to work.

Additional Resources for Overview

Check your potential eligibility for unemployment benefits

Immediately after losing your job

The unemployment insurance (UI) program covers most Massachusetts workers. Eligibility is determined by the Department of Unemployment Assistance.

You may be eligible for UI benefits if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Lost your job, or are working significantly reduced hours, through no fault of your own
  • Earned at least $4,700 over the last 4 completed calendar quarters
  • Are able to work: You do not have a medical condition that prevents you from working.
  • Are available to work: There is nothing preventing you from accepting a job.
  • Are actively looking for work: You are currently searching for a job according to DUA requirements (see below).

Workers in some jobs may not be eligible for benefits.

Key Actions for Check your potential eligibility for unemployment benefits

Apply for UI benefits

As soon as possible. Complete within your first week of partial or total unemployment

To apply, you will need the following information:

  • Your Social Security number, birth date, home address, email address, and phone number
  • Your work history for the last 15 months, including the legal names, addresses, and phone numbers of all your employers, and your work start and end dates

TIP: Your paycheck or W-2 will show your employer’s legal name.

  • If you have dependent children: Their legal birth dates and Social Security numbers.
  • (Optional) To receive payments by direct deposit, you’ll also need your bank name, account number, and routing number. Otherwise, DUA will send you a debit card.

TIP: If your application is approved, your first payment will be mailed to you as a paper check. After that, payments will be sent to you by direct deposit or by debit card, depending on the method you chose in your application. The fastest way to receive payments is to set up direct deposit.

You may need to provide additional information if you are not a U.S. citizen, are in a union, were in the military, or worked for the federal government.

How to apply

Online (recommended)

The fastest option is to apply online.

TIP: Make sure to write down or save your password somewhere you will remember.

TIP: If you don't have access to a computer, you can visit your local library, MassHire Career Center, or the Boston Walk-In Center.

Phone

Call the TeleClaim Center to apply. 

What happens next

You’re not done yet: once you have applied, you still need to request your weekly benefits (see below).

Most applications are processed in 3-4 weeks unless there is an issue with your claim. There are 3 possible outcomes when you apply for UI:

  • Approved: DUA may send you correspondence regarding your eligibility. Once your application is approved, you will start to receive benefit payments as you request them each week.
  • More information required: If more information is needed for your application, DUA will send you a questionnaire with a deadline to respond.
  • Denied: You will receive a Notice of Disqualification.

Watch for correspondence from DUA and MassHire in your UI Online mailbox and/or your paper mail.

Key Actions for Apply for UI benefits

Search for work and request your UI benefits

In your first week, and repeat every week you are seeking benefits

You must search for work every week that you are unemployed. You should begin doing this immediately, the same week you submit your application. No payment will be issued for any week that you do not search for work and request benefits. At any point, DUA may ask you for more information.

Sunday is the first day of the week that you can request benefits for the prior week.

During the week: Complete job searches (Sunday to Saturday)

  • Conduct at least 3 separate job searches on 3 separate days each week. These can include things like looking for a job online, looking for a job in person, or applying for a job. 
  • Keep a written log of your searches. You can use the Work Search Activity Log template for this. You may be required to submit this information at a later date.

After the week is over: Request benefits

After the week is over, you may request benefits anytime from Sunday through Saturday of the following week. Request benefits through UI Online (strongly recommended) or call TeleCert at (617) 626-6338. You will need to:

  • Request your benefit payment
  • Carefully answer certification questions. You must report part-time earnings or any change in your unemployment status.

Additional Resources for Search for work and request your UI benefits

Attend a seminar & use Career Services

You may be given a deadline to attend 1 or more required programs. Many more free, optional resources are available. Take advantage of them anytime!

MassHire Department of Career Services offers free seminars and workshops that can help you find a job or access funded training opportunities that will increase your skills and help you get back to work. 

Mandatory Career Services program

If selected, you will be required to report to a Career Center. You will receive a notice with a specific deadline if you are selected to participate in either of the following programs:

Once selected, your participation is mandatory. Schedule your appointment right away to secure a spot by your deadline. If you don’t participate by the deadline, it will delay or cause you to lose your unemployment benefits.

Programs and resources available anytime

We encourage you to use our resources at any time throughout your job search. You can:

  • Meet with career counselors and peers to get tips on how to navigate the job search process
  • Attend workshops on job search techniques including interviewing, networking, and writing resumes and cover letters
  • Get career planning help and information on in-demand jobs, occupations, and skills
  • Access local, statewide, and national job listings
  • Access resources including computers, copiers and printers, fax machines, newspapers, professional journals, business directories, and publications on job searching and careers
  • Find opportunities to meet potential employers and network with other job seekers
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