Your weekly benefit amount is determined by your benefit year, your wages, and other instances of paid and unpaid leave (for any qualifying reason) that you have taken in the 12 months before the start of your current leave. In addition, other factors can affect your benefit amount, such as your work schedule, tax deductions, or using paid time off when receiving PFML benefits.
What is a benefit year?
Your benefit year is unique to you and is based on when you take time off through any leave program. Your benefit year starts the Sunday before your first day of leave and lasts for 52 consecutive weeks. The benefit year determines your benefit rate, which will stay the same for the entire benefit year even if you file multiple applications or take different types of leaves. Your benefit rate will only change when you start a new benefit year.
What types of leave programs will trigger a benefit year?
Many leave programs when taken for a qualifying reason can trigger your benefit year, including FMLA, PFML, or workers' compensation. Paid Time Off (PTO) like vacation, sick, or personal days for reasons that are not a qualifying reason will not start a benefit year.
Why is the benefit year important?
Your benefit year is important for two reasons:
First, it defines how much leave you have available. Within a benefit year, you are only eligible for certain amounts of leave – 20 weeks of medical leave, 12 weeks of family leave, and no more than 26 weeks of combined family and medical leave. After the benefit year is over, these amounts reset, and you can take up to these maximum amounts in the next benefit year.
Second, the benefit year determines your benefit rate. Your benefit rate will stay the same for the entire benefit year even if you file multiple applications or take different types of leave. Your benefit rate will only change when you start a new benefit year.
For example: Serena first took PFML family leave to bond with her newborn on May 4, 2022.
- Serena’s benefit year is May 1, 2022 (May 4, 2022, is on a Wednesday; May 1, 2022, is the preceding Sunday), through April 30, 2023.
- Serena files a subsequent medical leave with DFML on January 14, 2023, to manage her serious health condition and is eligible for the maximum weekly benefit amount. Since Serena is still in her 2022 benefit year, Serena’s benefit amount for the leave beginning January 14, 2023, will be is the 2022 maximum amount ($1,084.31).
What happens if my application spans two benefit years?
If a portion of your application for benefits extends beyond the end of your current benefit year, DFML will split your leave into two parts.
In addition, each part of your leave is subject to an eligibility review, and you may have one part approved and the other denied. This could happen if the second part of your leave is submitted earlier than 60 days before the start of your leave or you did not meet the financial eligibility requirement. DFML will calculate your weekly benefit amount for each part of your leave separately. You may receive different payment amounts for each part. You'll have two 7-day waiting periods, one for each part of your leave.
For example: Christian has an existing benefit year, from a family leave to care for a family member that was taken in May 2022. His benefit year is from May 22, 2022 to May 23, 2023. Christian and his partner adopt a child in April of 2023. Christian applies for 12 weeks of family leave to bond with a child between April 10, 2023, and July 2, 2023. In this scenario, the following will occur:
Christian's leave will be split into two parts.
For the first part, Christian will receive the 2022 rate ($1,084.31) while they are within their 2022 benefit year – for leave dates from April 10, 2023, through May 23, 2023.
For the second part, beginning May 24, 2023, Christian will be eligible for the new 2023 benefit rate ($1,129.82) after being assessed an additional seven-day waiting period.
How are weekly benefit amounts calculated?
The benefit rate is calculated based on two factors:
Your “individual average weekly wage” (IAWW) is the amount your earned in your base period. Your base period is the last four completed quarters before the start of your benefit year. The IAWW is the average amount you earned per week in the two quarters when you earned the most money (or the one quarter with the most money if you only worked in two or fewer quarters).
The “state average weekly wage” (SAWW) is a fixed amount established by the commonwealth of Massachusetts every calendar year. DFML uses the SAWW from the calendar year when your benefit year starts, and calculates your benefit as follows:
The portion of your IAWW that is equal to or less than 50% of the SAWW is replaced at a rate of 80%
Then, the portion of a your IAWW that is more than 50% of the SAWW is replaced at a rate of 50%
This calculation is also subject to a maximum weekly benefit amount, which is 64% of the SAWW
These calculations are the maximum benefit amount you can receive each week- other factors could reduce this amount, such as tax withholdings or other sources of income like unemployment.
For 2023, the new state average weekly wage is $1,765.34 and the new maximum weekly benefit rate is $1,129.82.
DFML provides a calculator to help you estimate your IAWW and your weekly benefit amount. The calculator is provided for estimation purposes only and is not a guarantee of weekly benefits.
Other leave and benefits
Benefits from other government or employer private leave programs may reduce your paid leave benefit amount and the total amount of leave you’re eligible to take. Other types of leave that affect the amount of money and time your receive include federal programs like FMLA or independent leave offered by your employer.
In addition, reductions can still occur after your leave is approved. If you didn’t accurately report leave or benefits you are receiving from other programs at the same time as PFML, your payment could be adjusted.
Your work schedule
Your weekly benefit amount may be affected if you work part time, or if you take reduced or intermittent leave. For example, if you work an average of 20 hours per week and you take 40 hours of leave, that is 2 weeks of leave. However, if you work 40 hours a week and take 40 hours of leave, that’s only 1 week of leave. Learn more about how to calculate your average working week hours.
During your application, you have the option to have state and federal taxes withheld from your weekly benefit. This preference cannot be changed once your application has been approved. If you choose to have taxes withheld, we will withhold 5% for state taxes and 10% for federal taxes. Learn more about taxes on PFML benefits.
Paid Time Off (PTO)
Most employers offer paid time off (PTO). This includes vacation days, sick days, and personal time. You cannot use paid time off on the same days you receive PFML benefits. Learn more about what this means during your PFML leave and how it might affect benefit payments.
|Last updated:||December 8, 2022|