Most workers in Massachusetts are covered by Unemployment Insurance. Getting Unemployment Insurance usually depends on three things:
- How much money did you earn at your job?
- Why did you leave your job?
- Are you ready and able to get another job?
How much money did you earn at your job in the last year?
To get Unemployment Insurance, you must have earned at least $6,000 in the last year, and you must have worked for at least 15 weeks in the last year (in most cases). The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) looks at how much you earned during the time they call a “base period”. During the base period, you must have earned at least $6,000. You can find out your base period by looking at the table below. Sometimes, the base periods listed below work out so that it looks like you cannot get unemployment insurance. Sometimes the DUA will use an “alternate base period” that gives a better idea of your most recent earnings. You can find out more about base periods and alternate base periods on the DUA’s webpage Understanding Your Base Period & Benefit Year.
If you apply for benefits in:
You must have earned at least $5,700 in your base period
January, February, March, 2023
From October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022
April, May, or June, 2023
From January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022
July, August, September, 2023
From April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023
October, November, December 2023
From July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023
Why did you leave your job?
Not everyone who loses his or her job can get Unemployment Insurance. To get Unemployment Insurance benefits, you must have wanted to keep your job or tried to keep it. In other words, losing your job was out of your control.
The company you work for goes out of business. It is not your fault that you no longer have a job. You should be able to get unemployment benefits.
If you quit, you may still be able to get Unemployment Insurance. You will need to show you had a good reason to quit your job and that you took reasonable steps to try and keep your job.
If you were fired because you could not do your job, you may be able to get Unemployment Insurance, as long as you did not break any rules at work on purpose.
Are you ready and able to work and are you looking for a new job?
The DUA only gives unemployment benefits to people who are ready and able to work. To get benefits, you must also look for work. To keep getting benefits, you need to tell DUA how you have searched for a job. You must “certify” your job search every week. You can certify your job search either by computer “webcert” or by telephone “telecert.” You can keep a log of your work search activities each week. A sample log is available on DUA's website.
If you quit or lose your job because of domestic violence, you may be able to get unemployment benefits. You may need to explain to DUA that you or your children are victims of domestic violence, and that you lost or quit your job due to the domestic violence.
You do not have to tell your employer about the domestic violence.
If you or your children have suffered domestic violence and you are in danger right now, call 911. If you are not in immediate danger, you can phone SafeLink 1-877-785-2020, or Casa Myrna Vasquez 1-800-992-2600 for help with all kinds of problems.
COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits
During part of 2020 and 2021, there were additional unemployment benefits because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These benefits ended for most people on September 4, 2021. You can learn more about these other benefits on DUA's website.
For more information on requesting a waiver of an overpayment see Has the DUA asked you to return money they paid you?