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UPDATE: Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance Announces Guidance On CARES Act Implementation

The Department of Unemployment Assistance is moving swiftly to implement three new public benefit programs that will expand unemployment eligibility; temporarily increase weekly benefits for all claimants; and allow additional categories of people to claim unemployment benefits. The move, the largest expansion of assistance for the Commonwealth’s workforce since the Great Depression, follows new guidance from the federal government regarding the CARES Act.

Table of Contents

CARES Act

CARES Act flowchart

Additional Resources

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA provides up to 46 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not working as a result of COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or PEUC. These individuals are not able to claim benefits directly through the UI Online System in Massachusetts. Eligible claimants under PUA will be retroactively compensated with this benefit beginning February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later. The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending December 26, 2020.

Eligible claimants should visit our Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) page to apply.

PUA checklist

Additional Resources

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

The PEUC program provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have exhausted their previous unemployment benefits. The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020.

Individuals who have exhausted their UI benefits on or after July 6, 2019 may receive PEUC.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions and answers explain the most important changes the CARES Act makes to UI and their impacts on Massachusetts workers and employers:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) FAQs

Please visit our page for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Frequently Asked Questions for further information.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) FAQs

Can I qualify for benefits under the CARES Act if my benefit year has expired or I have exhausted my benefits in my current benefit year? 

Individuals whose benefit year has expired or who have exhausted all rights to benefits under state or federal law in their current benefit year may qualify for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). PEUC is a 13 week extension of regular unemployment benefits.

What are the eligibility requirements for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)? 

There are four major requirements:  

  1. the benefit year of the individual’s claim for regular UI must have expired after July 1, 2019. 
  2. the individual seeking Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) cannot otherwise have rights to benefits under state or federal law.  
  3. the individual cannot be receiving benefits from Canada.  
  4. the individual must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work, except that a state shall apply flexibility in meeting work search requirements for individuals unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restriction. 

How much is the weekly benefit amount for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)? 

The weekly benefit amount will be the same as the weekly benefit amount payable to the individual during the individual’s benefit year, including dependency allowances, plus the $600 FPUC weekly benefit. Again, the $600 FPUC weekly benefit is available only for the period March 29-July 31, 2020.  

What is the maximum number of weeks an individual can receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)? 

An individual will be able to receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) for up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits. The extension ends December 31, 2020, unless extended further by the federal government. 

What penalties can an individual incur for receiving improper payments of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)? 

An individual receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) as a result of intentionally providing information that the individual knows or should have known was false, will be ineligible for future PEUC and subject to prosecution. The individual will also need to repay the amount received with interest and penalties.  

An individual receiving an overpayment by unintentionally supplying incorrect information will also need to repay the overpayment. But, no interest and penalties will be charged and the individual may be able to obtain a waiver if repayment “would be contrary to equity and good conscience.”

I have been claiming benefits through the PUA system for an exhausted claim. How do I continue to claim weekly benefits? 

Claimants will need to reopen their exhausted claim through the UI Online system.

My claim has exhausted and I did not open a claim in the PUA system. What should I do to collect Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)? 

Claimants will need to reopen their exhausted claim through the UI Online system.

My claim will exhaust soon. What will I need to do to collect the extra 13 weeks available through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)?

Claimants who are currently benefits will not need to do anything. The extra 13 weeks will be added to the existing claim.

Other FAQs

How will Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) be funded? 

All benefits and administrative expenses of these programs will be 100% federally funded, so they will be paid for without additional contributions from employers who pay into the unemployment insurance fund. 

What funding does the CARES Act provide for short-time compensation programs, also known as Work Share?

100% federal funding will be provided for short-time compensation paid to an individual up to 26 times the weekly benefit amount, including dependents’ allowances, for weeks of unemployment beginning on or after the date of enactment of CARES and ending on or before 12/31/20. However, this provision will not apply to short-time compensation paid to employees hired on a seasonal, temporary, or intermittent basis.  

Does the CARES Act provide any unemployment relief for governmental entities and non-profit organizations that ordinarily pay the full amount of benefits awarded to former employees? 

50% federal funding will be provided for benefits paid by reimbursable nonprofit and governmental entities for weeks of unemployment ending between 3/13/20 and 12/31/20. In addition, USDOL will work with states to allow flexible interpretations of provisions of state law relating to timely payment and assessment of penalties and interest.

Contact

Phone

Call Center (877) 626-6800

Open 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday. Multilingual call agents are available.

Online

To access PUA application online: Log in as a claimant 
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