Unemployment insurance eligibility in Massachusetts is governed by specific regulations. Both initial MA eligibility for unemployment and continued eligibility after you have been accepted into the Massachusetts program are determined by these rules and regulations.
The eligibility requirements involve how you were separated from your employment, your ability to work, your availability to work, your continued search for employment, and your willingness to accept a job for which you are reasonably qualified.
We have compiled helpful information, hints, and tips about qualifying for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts on this website and FAQs and our free guide. Read more below to learn about who can qualify for unemployment in Massachusetts.
Qualifications for Unemployment in Massachusetts
Qualifications for unemployment in Massachusetts is first defined by how the applicant became separated from his or her job. Unemployment applicants must not have caused their own separation from employment.
MA eligibility for unemployment is also available to employees who have had their working hours is reduced. UI beneficiaries can receive full unemployment benefits during weeks when there is no work available and partial benefits during weeks when there is less than full-time work available. Generally, applicants must experience a reduction of at least one-third of their hours and/or wages in order to receive even a minimal amount of benefits.
Massachusetts qualifications for unemployment also include workers who leave a company for another job, then get laid off shortly after joining the new company. In cases like this, the now unemployed worker will be asked to provide a list of their employers during the last 15 months.
The applicant’s eligibility will be determined by their most recent employer, as well as previous employers during the 12 to 15 months preceding the time the applicant applied for UI benefits. Unemployment applicants wondering how to qualify for unemployment in MA should be aware that there is a required one-week “waiting period” after their initial claim is filed.
Therefore, unemployment applicants should file their claim as soon as they become unemployed. Applicants will not receive benefits during the waiting period.
How to Maintain Eligibility for Unemployment in Massachusetts
To be eligible for unemployment in MA, the applicant must be physically able to perform work. Applicants who are sick and unable to work may not be eligible for UI benefits for that week. Additionally, unemployed applicants must be ready and willing to work.
Unemployment applicants who limit the number of hours they can work or refuse a job because of the amount of wages that it pays may not be entitled to benefits. Attending school may also affect an applicant’s qualifications for unemployment. Unemployment petitioners must notify the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) if they are attending school, registering for school, or no longer attending full-time training that was approved by DUA.
MA unemployment insurance eligibility also requires that claimants be residing in the United States, its territories or Canada when they request benefits. Also, unemployment applicants who do not have time to conduct a search for new employment because of the demands of running their own businesses may not be eligible for further benefits.
For continued eligibility for unemployment, the DUA requires that a claimant: make at least three searches for employment per week and that each work search be conducted on a different day, keep a detailed written log of their job-hunting activities and bring this Work Search Activity Log to their Career Center appointments, and provide the work search information to the DUA upon request.
With Massachusetts unemployment insurance eligibility, if the applicant obtains work through a union hall, he or she must remain active with that labor organization, be a good-standing union member and be eligible for placement and referral. The UI petitioner must also keep a written record of contacts with the union hall.
For eligibility for EDD, if the claimant’s work search is waived because he or she has a definite return-to-work date within 28 days, he or she is required to make themselves available for work and keep the former employer informed on how to contact them for work. Unemployment applicants who are on a temporary layoff from a former employer, with no definite return to work date within 28 days, must keep their contact information current with their former employer while seeking work with other employers.
Note that contact with the former employer does not constitute a work search contact.
Massachusetts Earnings Requirement for Unemployment Insurance Eligibility
Eligibility for unemployment in MA requires the unemployment applicant to have earned at least $5,700 during the four calendar quarters prior to the quarter in which they filed for UI benefits. This period is called the “base period” and will be explained more fully on the Benefits page. Additionally, the wages earned must be at least 30 times the amount of UI benefits the applicant would be eligible to receive on a weekly basis.
Regarding who qualifies for unemployment, if the unemployment applicant has not earned enough wages within their base period, then he or she may qualify for unemployment benefits using wages earned during an “alternate base period,” which will be explained more fully on the Benefits page.
A claimant can use the alternate base period if he or she has not earned at least $5,700 in wages during their primary base period or if the alternate base period would result in the applicant receiving at least 10 percent more in weekly benefits.
Last Updated: October 13, 2022