How To File For Massachusetts Unemployment

This page provides information on how to file for unemployment in Massachusetts. If you lost your job or your hours were reduced at no fault of your own, you may qualify to receive unemployment benefits in your state. Review the information below, if you still have questions or issues about these benefits, then we suggest to contact your local Massachusetts Unemployment Department for assistance. It is important that you file your new claim right away because Massachusetts unemployment insurance are not retroactive.

When you file for unemployment benefits, your initial eligibility for benefits is based on your earnings and your reason for leaving your job. Ongoing eligibility requirements include being able to work, available for work, and actively searching for work.

Massachusetts unemployment eligibility requirements

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must:

  • Have earned at least $4,700 during the last 4 completed calendar quarters and 30 times the weekly benefit
  • Amount you would be eligible to collect
  • Be legally authorized to work in the US
  • Be unemployed, or working significantly reduced hours, through no fault of your own
  • Be able and willing to begin suitable work without delay when offered

Massachusetts weekly unemployment eligibility requirements

To qualify for benefits, each week, you must be:

  • Physically able to work
  • Available to work
  • Actively looking for work (3 work search attempts made on 3 separate days)

You may also be required to register with a Career Center to complete mandatory seminars to remain eligible to receive unemployment benefits. You may not be eligible for unemployment benefits if your only source of employment is from working as:

  • An employee of a non-profit or religious organization
  • A worker trainee in a program run by a nonprofit or public institution
  • A real estate broker or insurance agent who work only on commission
  • A consultant working independently
  • A student in a work-study program
  • An elected official
  • A government official in a policy-making and/or advisory position
  • A member of the legislative or judiciary body

What affects your weekly unemployment benefits

Your eligibility for weekly benefits may be affected if you:

  • Aren't able, available, or actively seeking work
  • Refuse, quit, or are fired from a job
  • Receive other income
  • Attend school or training full-time without Department of Unemployment Assistance approval
  • Become self-employed
  • Travel for non-work-related reasons
  • Work while collecting unemployment benefits

How Massachusetts unemployment benefits are determined

If you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits, you will receive a weekly benefit amount of approximately 50% of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum set by law. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $769 per week. Follow the steps below to calculate the amount of unemployment benefits you may be eligible to receive each week.

Step 1: List your total wages in the last 4 quarters in which you worked
Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
$7,800 $7,800 $8,840 $10,000
Step 2: Add the top two highest quarters of wages
Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
$7,800 $7,800 $8,840 $10,000

Step 3: Divide the sum of the two highest quarters from Step 2 by 26 (the number of weeks in the combined quarters). If you worked 2 or fewer quarters, divide the highest quarter by 13 weeks to determine your average weekly wage.

Step 4: Divide your weekly wage from Step 3 in half to determine your weekly benefit amount.

Calculating your maximum benefit credit

The total amount of benefits you can receive in your benefit year is called your maximum benefit credit. Your maximum benefit credit is calculated as the lesser of either:

  • 30 times your weekly benefit amount or
  • 36% of the total wages in your base period
How your base period is determined

The amount of unemployment benefits you may be eligible to receive is determined by wages paid to you during either your primary or alternate base period. The base period is defined by Massachusetts law.

Primary base period

The primary base period is the last 4 completed calendar quarters prior to the effective date of your claim (typically the Sunday of the week that you filed your claim). For most claimants, the primary base period is used to calculate your maximum benefit credit, which is the total amount of benefits you are eligible to receive.

Alternate base period

The alternate base period is the last 3 completed calendar quarters and the period of time between the last completed quarter and the effective date of your claim. The alternate base period can only be used if:

  • You don't meet the minimum eligibility requirements using the primary base period
  • Using the alternate base period will increase your maximum benefit credit by 10% or more
How your base period wages are determined

Massachusetts employers are required to report wage information to the Department of Unemployment Assistance on a quarterly basis. This wage information is used to determine whether you have earned enough wages to qualify for unemployment benefits.

If you disagree with the wages reported on your Monetary Determination notice, you can provide proof of the wage amounts you are disputing by completing and returning the Wage and Employer Correction sheet that was mailed to you with your notice. DUA will review the information and make any necessary adjustments.

If it is determined that you have not earned enough wages under either the primary or the alternate base period, you have the right to file an appeal and present additional supporting documents at a hearing.

Your benefit year

Once your claim is established, it will remain open for one year (52 weeks). This period of time is called your benefit year. Your maximum benefit credit (the total amount of benefits you are eligible to receive) is available to you for the duration of your benefit year or until you have exhausted your maximum benefit credit. Once your benefit year expires, any unpaid benefits will no longer be available to you.

Calculating your duration of unemployment benefits

The number of weeks you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits is called your duration of benefits. Your duration of benefits is calculated by dividing your maximum benefit credit by your weekly benefit amount. The maximum number of weeks you can receive full unemployment benefits is 30 weeks (capped at 26 weeks during periods of extended benefits and low unemployment). However, many individuals qualify for less than 30 weeks of coverage.

What information you need when applying for unemployment benefits

To apply for unemployment, you need to provide personal information including your Social Security number, birth date, home address, email address (optional), and phone number. You also need information about your employment history from the last 15 months, including:

  • Names of all employers, plus addresses and phone numbers
  • Reasons for leaving those jobs
  • Work start and end dates
  • Recall date (if you were laid off but have a set date to return to work)

You may need additional information in certain situations:

  • If you are not a US citizen, your Alien Registration number
  • If you have children, their birth dates and Social Security numbers
  • If you're in a union, your union name and local number
  • If you were in the military, your DD-214 Member 4 form. If you don't have it, you can request your DD-214 online
  • If you worked for the federal government, your SF8 form (optional)

To receive payments by direct deposit, you'll also need your bank name, account number, and routing number. Otherwise, the Department of Unemployment Assistance will send you a debit card.

How to file for Massachusetts unemployment

You can file for unemployment online, over the phone or in person. To file a claim online, you must create an account on the UI Online portal.

  • If you have never filed a Massachusetts unemployment claim
  • Go to the UI Online login screen
  • When prompted, you will be asked to enter your Social Security number twice
  • Proceed with the application by following the computer prompts
  • You will eventually be prompted to set up a password as well as a security verification question in case you forget your password. You will use the password you created every time you log in to UI Online
  • If you have previously filed for unemployment benefits and forgot your password
  • Go to the UI Online login screen
  • When prompted, you will be asked to enter your Social Security number twice
  • Click the Forgot password button
  • You will be prompted to enter in verification information including your Social Security number, date of birth and gender
  • The answer to your security question (if you can't remember the answer to your security question, you must contact DUA to confirm your identity)
  • You will be prompted to set up a new password. You will use the password you created every time you log in to UI Online
By Phone

To avoid long hold times, you have the option to schedule a callback from the TeleClaim Center to file for unemployment benefits by phone. You may select any time from the available slots for us to return your call. You can also file for unemployment benefits or get help with your application by calling the TeleClaim Center. The number you call depends on your area code:

  • 877-626-6800 from area codes 351, 413, 508, 774, and 978
  • 617-626-6800 from any other area code
  • 711 for Voice Relay

The TeleClaim Center hours are from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday. Please follow the call-in schedule below:

Last digit of your Social Security Number Assigned day to call the TeleClaim Center
0, 1 Monday
2, 3 Tuesday
4, 5, 6 Wednesday
7, 8, 9 Thursday
Any last digit Friday

You can visit the Boston walk-in center located at 19 Staniford St., Boston, MA 02114 to get in person assistance with a member of our staff. The walk-in center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Request weekly unemployment benefits

You must request weekly benefits every week that you are unemployed. No payment will be issued for any week that you fail to certify your eligibility. Once you have filed a claim, you must request benefits for each week during which you are in partial or total unemployment. Sunday is the first day of the week that you can request benefits for the prior week. You may request benefits for the prior week at any time beginning Sunday through Saturday of the current week. Every time you request weekly benefits, you'll be asked questions about your unemployment status during the previous week.

When requesting weekly unemployment benefits online:

  • Log in to your UI Online account
  • Select Request benefit payment on your account home page
  • Follow the prompts to request a benefit payment
  • Print the confirmation page for your records

When requesting weekly unemployment benefits by phone:

  • Call the TeleCert line at 617-626-6338. The TeleCert hours are 6am to 10pm daily
  • Have the following information handy: your Social Security number, your TeleCert 4-digit pin. If you don't one, learn how to create your TeleCert PIN
  • Your wages earned if you worked during the week claimed
  • Answer the prompts
  • Stay on the line until you are told that your weekly claim filing is complete

Note: You must make a request even if your eligibility is still being decided or you have an appeal pending. If you are approved for benefits, you will only receive payment for the weeks you've requested.

File an appeal

You can appeal a decision on your unemployment claim online or by mail.

  • Online
  • Log in to your UI Online account
  • Click View and maintain in the left pane
  • Click Monetary and issue summary
  • Select the issue ID and then click Appeal
By Mail

There are 2 ways to appeal the decision by mail:

  • Complete the Appeal Request Information form that was mailed to you with your Notice of Disqualification or
  • Write a letter asking for an appeal. Include your phone number, claimant ID and signature

Send your completed form or letter to:

Department of Unemployment Assistance
Hearings Department
19 Staniford St.
Boston, MA 02114

When they receive your request, they will send you 2 letters, either electronically or by US Mail, depending on the method you selected when you filed your claim for benefits. The first letter is sent immediately to confirm they received your appeal request. The second letter (Notice of Hearing) is sent when they schedule the hearing. The Notice of Hearing will:

  • Give you notice of the time and date of your hearing
  • Let you know if the hearing is in-person or by phone (if by phone, they will include a phone number and a PIN)
  • Give you instructions on how to prepare for your hearing