What if I cannot get Unemployment Insurance?

Reviewed April 2020

Important

Because of the Covid-19 emergency, many people are out of work and looking for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Many of the rules have changed because of this emergency. You may be able to get Unemployment faster and more easily than before.  See Covid-19 and Unemployment  Insurance.

If the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) says you cannot get benefits, you can ask it to look at your case again. This is called appealing a denial. If you want to appeal, you must apply for a hearing as soon as possible.

There is a 10-day deadline to apply for a hearing. In some cases you can apply late (but not more than 30 days), if you have “good cause;” for example, you are very sick, or you were the victim of domestic violence or other serious reasons.

If DUA did not send you the information in your primary language, you can also appeal late.

At the hearing, you can tell a DUA hearing officer why you think you should get benefits. You will need to bring any evidence you have to the hearing.

How long does it take to get a hearing date?

DUA says that you should get a hearing within 30 days of the day you file an appeal. But during the COVID-19 emergency you may have to wait longer. During the COVIDi-19 emergency, the DUA is holding all hearings over the telephone.

Check with the hearing division for your area. The main numbers for the DUA hearing division are:

Boston: 1-617-626-5200
Lawrence: 1-978-738-4400
Brockton: 1-508-894-4777
Springfield: 1-413-452-4700

What kind of evidence should I bring to the hearing?

The evidence you will need depends on the reason DUA said you are not eligible. Can I get Unemployment Insurance if I was fired? and Can I get Unemployment Insurance if I quit my job? will help you figure out the kind of evidence that will help you.

Bring any information you have about why you left your job. For example, if you quit your job because you were very sick, you could bring doctors' notes or bills. If you have any papers that you want to show to DUA, or any witnesses who can help you, bring them to the hearing. The DUA hearing officer will use the information that you and your employer present at your hearing. The DUA hearing officer will use the information that you and your employer present at your hearing.

Can my employer stop me from getting benefits?

If the DUA gives you benefits, your employer can appeal the decision to stop you from getting benefits. At the hearing, your employer will explain why you should not get benefits. They will also bring evidence like documents and records of your actions at work, to show that it was your fault you lost your job.

Your employer may not want you to get benefits because employers pay for Unemployment Insurance with their taxes. If you get unemployment benefits, your employer's taxes may go up. Therefore, your employer may have to pay more taxes. So your employer has a reason to try to stop you from getting benefits.

What if I lose at my hearing?

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You can appeal on your own even if you do not have a lawyer. Or your local legal aid office may be able to help.

If you lose your hearing and you do not have a lawyer to help you appeal on your own:

  1. You can appeal to the Board of Review. You have 30 days to appeal to the Board of Review. DUA will mail instructions to you with your hearing decision. When you appeal to the Board of Review, you can send a letter or other information to show why you feel that you should have won your hearing. You will usually not have a new hearing, but the Board of Review will look at your papers and your case again.
  2. If you do not win your case before the Board of Review, you may appeal to District Court. You must appeal within 30 days after you hear from the Board .

If you miss your appeal deadlines. Write to Judi Richard Jeffers, Director of Department of Unemployment Assistance, 19 Staniford Street, Boston, MA 02114 to ask the agency to reconsider its decision. Your letter explain why you missed the appeal and why you should be getting benefits.

Should I still certify my eligibility for Unemployment Insurance if I am appealing a DUA decision?

You do not have to certify your eligibility every week if:

  • The reason you are not working is related to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • You stay in touch with your employer. And
  • You are able and available to return to work after the emergency.

But if the reason you are not working is not related to the COVID-19 emergency, you do need to certify your eligibility every week. As long as you are getting unemployment benefits you must certify each week that you are still eligible. This does not change when you are appealing a denial. You must still certify your eligibility each week when you are appealing a denial. You must show that you are still looking for a new job. You may use the UI Online portal or the UI TeleClaim Center. If you are phoning use the appropriate phone number:

  • For Area Codes 351, 413, 508, 774, and 978: 877-626-6800
  • For Area Code 617 and all others: 617-626-6338.

 

Take the quiz!

Maria
1. How can Maria get the DUA to look at her case again?
Maria applied for Unemployment benefits after she left her job at the department store (to care for her sick husband). After two weeks, she got a letter from DUA. The letter said that Maria did not qualify for Unemployment. DUA said this was because she did not have a good reason for leaving her job. Maria believes that DUA made a mistake. She wants DUA to look at her case again. What should Maria do?
answer type: 
Incorrect
Talk to her former boss. Find out what the boss told DUA about Maria and her reasons for quitting the job.
answer type: 
Correct
Ask for an appeal hearing within ten days.
answer type: 
Incorrect
Apply for Unemployment benefits a second time and give a different reason for leaving the job.
answer type: 
Incorrect
Write a letter to the governor. Explain the situation, and ask him to help.
the correct answer is 'B'. Explanation: If Maria feels that the DUA decision was not right, she can appeal it. She can ask DUA to look at her case again. She must act quickly—she has only ten days to ask for a hearing.
Sorry, the correct answer is 'B'. Explanation: If Maria feels that the DUA decision was not right, she can appeal it. She can ask DUA to look at her case again. She must act quickly—she has only ten days to ask for a hearing.
2. What should Maria bring to her hearing?
If Maria gets a hearing, which of these things should she bring with her?
answer type: 
Incorrect
Paystubs from the last ten weeks that Maria worked.
answer type: 
Incorrect
Maria’s birth certificate and social security ID card.
answer type: 
Incorrect
A friend who can tell the DUA officer that Maria is a good person
answer type: 
Correct
A doctor’s letter that tells about the kind of care Maria’s husband needs.
Correct! Maria should bring paperwork that shows why she left her job. She needs to show that her husband is very sick and that he needs Maria to care for him at home. If Maria wrote to her boss to ask for a leave of absence (before she left the job), she
Sorry, the correct answer is 'D'. Explanation: Maria should bring paperwork that shows why she left her job. She needs to show that her husband is very sick and that he needs Maria to care for him at home. If Maria wrote to her boss to ask for a leave of absence (before she left the job), she should also bring a copy of that letter.
3. Why would Maria's boss try to stop her from getting Unemployment?
Maria’s boss goes to the hearing and tells a story that is different from Maria’s story. Why would her boss try to stop Maria from getting Unemployment benefits?
answer type: 
Correct
If Maria gets Unemployment benefits, the store may have to pay higher taxes.
answer type: 
Incorrect
If Maria gets Unemployment benefits, the other workers will probably quit and apply for Unemployment too.
answer type: 
Incorrect
The boss is probably angry that Maria left.
answer type: 
Incorrect
The boss may think that if Maria does not get unemployment, she will return to her job.
Correct! If you get unemployment benefits, your employer's taxes may go up. This is probably why Maria’s boss is trying to stop her from getting benefits.
Sorry, the correct answer is 'A'. Explanation: If you get unemployment benefits, your employer's taxes may go up. This is probably why Maria’s boss is trying to stop her from getting benefits.

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