Unemployment Insurance benefits are cash payments for workers who have lost their jobs. Unemployment benefits can also include job training while you look for a new job. Not everyone can collect unemployment benefits, but many workers can. If you lose your job, you may be able to get unemployment benefits while you look for a new job.
In Massachusetts, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) runs the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program. Each year, employers pay taxes based on the number of their ex-employees who collect Unemployment Insurance. This tax pays for the Unemployment Insurance program.
When you lose your job and it's not your fault, the DUA may pay you UI benefits. If the DUA decides to give you Unemployment Insurance, you may be paid every week until you find a job, for up to 26 or 30 weeks depending on the unemployment rate - the percent of people who are unemployed in Massachusetts. Your weekly benefit amount and the number of weeks of benefits you will get depend on your earnings before you applied for UI.
What are Unemployment Insurance benefits?
Unemployment Insurance benefits include:
- cash payments and
- extended cash benefits while in job training.
The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) makes these payments weekly.
The idea behind unemployment insurance making cash payments is to help you pay your bills while you look for a new job. The DUA looks at how much to pay you based on how much you earned for about one year before you stopped working. It uses this information to decide how much money to give you in unemployment payments.
If you go to a skills training program to help you get a new job, DUA may pay you for as much as 26 more weeks. The training program has to be approved by the DUA. To contact the DUA for more information about training, call 617-626-6800 or 877-626-6800, or visit the DUA training website.
How much money can I get?
Usually, you can get about half of what you earned every week when you were working. The most you can get is $974 per week. This amount changes on October 1st of each year.
If you have children, and you provide more than 50% of their support, you may also get up to $25 per week for each child in your family who is
- under the age of 18, or
- under 24 and a full-time student, or
- cannot work because of mental or physical disabilities (there is no age limit).
This dependency allowance is capped at 50% of your weekly benefit amount. For example, if your weekly benefit amount is $100 per week, and you have three children, you would get $50 per week for teh dependency allowance, not $75 per week.
What other benefits can I get?
Extended Unemployment Training Benefits (Section 30 Benefits)
You can also get up to 26 extra weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits while you attend a job training program. The training program must be approved by DUA. This is sometimes called a “Section 30” or Training Opportunity Program (TOP).
You must be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits to get into a Section 30 training program. As long as you are getting either Federal or Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance benefits you can apply for Section 30 Training .
Help with paying for training
Sometimes you can get federal funding for job training through your local One Stop Career Center. You need to go to the One Stop Career Center to find out about these funds. Go online to find training programs near you.
Help with paying for college (Pell Grants)
You may be able to get a Pell Grant to help pay for college. As of June 2010, unemployed workers may get special help with Pell Grants. The US government provides information about Pell Grants and other financial aid programs.
If the US government grants a federal extension, you may only be able to get unemployment for up to 26 weeks.
Sometimes the economy gets so bad that many people cannot find work. The government recognizes that it is harder than usual for most people to find work. So, the US government grants “federal extensions” of Unemployment Insurance benefits. The US government pays for these extensions.
When the US government decides to grant Federal extensions, Massachusetts pays benefits for the first 26 weeks. After that, benefits are funded by the money from the US government.
But because the US government’s rules about who can get Unemployment Insurance are stricter than Massachusetts rules,you may only be able to get up to 26 weeks of unemployment from Massachusetts.
Federal Covid-related benefits (expired September 2021)
During the pandemic, there were a number of federal expansions and extensions to unemployment insurance, including:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA),
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC),
- Pandemic EmergencyUnemployment Compensation (PEUC), and
- Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).
Note: All federal COVID-related benefit payments ended on September 4, 2021.
Even though PUA ended September 4, 2021, if you applied for regular unemployment insurance (UI) before, October 4, 2021, and were denied after October 4, 2021, you may be able to apply for PUA retroactively if your work was impacted by COVID. You must call DUA, 877-626-6800, to apply for PUA.