How to apply for Unemployment Insurance in Massachusetts

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If you lose your job, you may be able to get Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Learn more about whether you qualify for UI and what benefits you can get. Once you apply for UI, you may be wondering when you will hear back and what other steps you need to take to get your benefits.

Apply online, by phone, or in person

See the DUA website to learn what information you will need for your application or “claim.”

It sometimes takes several weeks to get a decision about your UI benefits. You need to start requesting benefits and “certifying” your job search the week after you apply, even if you have not heard from DUA yet.

This video by the DUA explains how to use the UI Online system to file for Massachusetts Unemployment Benefits.

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Request weekly benefits

You need to ask for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits each week you are unemployed, starting the week after you apply for UI. The benefits you get are for the week before. You can request weekly benefits either online or by phone:

  • Online: On UI Online, go to “Request benefit payment.” 
  • Phone: Call (617) 626-6338.

Make sure you have:

  • Your social security number,
  • The amount of wages you earned if you worked during the week you are requesting UI for, and
  • Your TeleCert 4-digit PIN (if you are requesting by phone).

See more detailed instructions on the DUA website.

“Certify” that you are looking for work

Once you apply for Unemployment Insurance, you need to certify your work search every week by phone or online. This means you need to be looking for a job and have proof if they ask you. You also need to certify any earnings. Visit DUA’s website for instructions on how to certify by phone or online.

You need to start certifying 1 week after you apply, even if you haven't heard from DUA yet.

The DUA requires that you:

  • do at least 3 “work search activities” each week you get benefits;
  • keep a log of these work searches; and
  • show this log to DUA if they ask.

See a sample work search log. “Work search activities” include activities like filling out a job application, going to a job interview, looking at job postings online, or contacting an employer.

If DUA denies your application, keep certifying while you are appealing. If you win your appeal you can get benefits back to the date you applied for UI.

Prove your identity and answer other questions from DUA

If DUA asks you to prove your identity, they send you a letter or email asking you to use the website to send them proof. See How can I prove my identity? to learn how to show proof.

DUA might also ask other questions to make sure you are eligible for UI benefits. They send you a questionnaire and a deadline to answer it. You can answer it online, by phone, or by mail. Learn more about how to answer requests for information about your application on the DUA’s website.


Even if you haven't heard back from the DUA yet, you need to request weekly benefits and “certify” that you are looking for work each week after you apply for UI.

Hearing back from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

How will DUA tell me if I am approved for Unemployment Insurance?

After you apply, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will send you their decisions about your case. You get letters from DUA either by mail or in your UI Online inbox, depending on the option you chose when you applied. You will receive a “monetary” determination saying whether you earned enough money to qualify for UI benefits. You may also receive one or more decisions on “non-monetary” issues affecting your eligibility. 

These letters will tell you if the DUA has decided to give you benefits or not. Save these letters! If the DUA says you cannot get benefits, you will need information from the letters to ask them to look at your case more carefully. See How to appeal. It is important that you appeal any of these decisions that you disagree with separately.

How long does it take to hear from DUA about my application?

The DUA is busy. It sometimes takes several weeks to get a decision on your Unemployment Insurance benefits.

If you have waited several weeks and still haven’t heard back from the DUA, you can try calling your state representative or senator. They can sometimes call DUA on your behalf, which might help get the agency's attention. Find out who your representative and senator are.

You can also call DUA at 877-626-6800.

What if DUA denies me UI benefits?

If the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) says you cannot get UI benefits, you can ask it to look at your case again. This is called appealing a denial. Learn how to appeal a denial.

It is important that you appeal the denial within 10 days of getting the DUA’s decision.

How long does it take to get my UI benefits?

You get UI benefits either through direct deposit to your bank account or a debit card. But, your first benefit payment will be a paper check. 

If you set up direct deposit to a checking or savings account, it will take 9 business days to verify your bank account. After that, each week once the DUA approves your request for benefits, it will take 2 business days for the money to be deposited into your account.

To check the status of your payment, call (617) 626-6563.

To set up, change, or stop direct deposits of your UI benefits, call the DUA Direct Deposit Line at (617) 626-6570.

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