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COVID-19 and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 19, 2021

You should apply for PUA if you are:

  • A US citizen or have work authorization.
  • Unemployed because of COVID, such as: job hours reduced or ended, quarantined, caring for household or family member with COVID, no childcare or school for kids, no adult care for dependent adult, etc., and
  • Not eligible for regular UI because you:
    • used all your regular UI benefits, or
    • didn’t earn enough W-2 wages or work enough weeks last year, or
    • were disqualified from regular UI before COVID and couldn’t work enough weeks to qualify (cure) because of COVID, or
    • do not usually qualify for regular UI, including: independent contractors, gig workers, self-employed, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, part-time workers, full-time students with part-time jobs, and clergy or worker for a religious organization.

Note

If you are a part-time worker, full-time student with a part-time job, a clergy or worker for a religious organization, and you earned $5,400 or more last year, you must apply for regular UI even though you will be denied.

Then you should apply for PUA.

If you applied for regular UI and you were not eligible, your PUA application will be backdated to the date of your regular UI claim if you met the requirements for PUA on that date.

Your benefits

  • Up to 57 weeks of benefits. The last 11 weeks can only be claimed on or after 12/27/2020. If you got regular UI and EB before PUA, those weeks count towards the 57-week total. Weeks you got PEUC benefits do not count.
  • If you are still getting PUA on 3/13/2021 and remain eligible, you can collect until 4/10/2021.
  • PUA benefits start at $267/week. May be higher based on earnings in the tax year before you applied.
  • Can get Dependency Allowance for children.
  • Back benefits:
    • If you applied for PUA on or before 12/27/2020, you can claim weeks back to 2/2/2020, starting from the first date that COVID-19 impacted your work.
    • If you applied for PUA after 12/27/2020, you can claim weeks back to 12/6/2020, starting from the first date that COVID-19 impacted your work.
  • Proof of eligibility - you must show proof by the deadline to avoid an overpayment claim:
    • If you apply before 1/31/202, you have 90 days to prove you had employment or self-employment in the tax year before you applied.
    • If you apply on or after 1/31/2021, you have 21 days to prove you had employment or self-employment in 2020. You can have more time if you have a good reason.

Remember to apply for other benefits too

See:

SNAP Food Assistance - Workers who lost hours or job due to COVID-19

COVID-19 and MassHealth and Health Insurance

More information

See the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance webpages COVID-19 unemployment information. If you have trouble completing your UI application online or you have questions about the status of your application, call 877-626-6800 or use the DUA Unemployment contact form.

For information specifically about PUA go to www.mass.gov/pua where you can get the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Guidebook, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Eligibility Checklist, and other information. You can also get the guide book in:

For now, the PUA application is only in English and Spainsh.Y you cancertify weekly that you are eligible to continue getting PUA Spanish, Portuguese and Cantonese.

For updates, and related materials on COVID-19 and unemployment see MassLegalServices webpages for Massachusetts lawyers and advocates.

For updates to this fact sheet, see MassLegalServices webpages for Massachusetts lawyers and advocates.

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