File for unemployment

Have you lost your job? You may qualify for temporary income to support you while you look for a new one.

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The Details

Overview

Need some help staying on your feet while you look for a new job? If you’re out of work and able to work, you may be eligible for temporary income called unemployment insurance (UI). If you qualify, you receive weekly payments to help cover your living expenses. The amount is based on what you were paid in the last year.

The program is managed by the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

Eligibility

If you lost your job through no fault of your own and can start a new job as soon as you’re hired, you’re probably eligible for unemployment benefits. However, you might not qualify if:

  • Your last job was with a church or religious organization
  • You’re in a training program run by a nonprofit or public sector institution
  • You’re a real estate or insurance broker who works on commission
  • You work independently as a consultant, contractor, or business owner
  • You’re an elected official or an official who creates or advises on policy
  • You’re a member of a legislative or judiciary body

You also need to meet 3 requirements:

  • You earned enough money in the last year (at least $4,300).
  • You left or lost your job for an approvable reason (typically, you’re not eligible if you violated a company policy or were let go for misconduct).
  • You stay able and available to work and are looking for a job.

Before you start

To apply for unemployment, you need to provide personal information including your Social Security number, birth date, home address, email address, 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 U.S. citizen — your Alien Registration number
  • If you have children or other dependents — 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 (optional). 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 account details and routing number. Otherwise, DUA will send you a debit card.

How to

  1. Apply

    You should apply as soon as you lose your job, because you’ll only receive unemployment starting from the date you apply. There are 2 ways to apply for unemployment benefits.

    Online

    To apply online, you can create an account on the UI Online portal. The website will walk you through filling out your application. Once you file your initial application, you’ll be able to log into your account to check your status.

    Don’t have a computer? Visit a One-Stop Career Center where you can use one of theirs to file your claim and get help finding a job.

    By phone

    You can 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 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday–Friday.

    You should only call DUA on the day that corresponds with the last digit of your Social Security number or Friday:

    • 0, 1 — Monday
    • 2, 3 — Tuesday
    • 4, 5, 6 —Wednesday
    • 7, 8, 9 — Thursday
    • Any — Friday
  2. DUA reviews your application

    Once you’ve applied for unemployment benefits, DUA will review your application and confirm with your last job how much you earned and why you no longer work there.  

  3. DUA notifies you about your benefits

    After DUA has confirmed your income with your former employers, they’ll send you a letter called a “Monetary Determination” that tells you how much you’ll receive in unemployment. The letter will detail:

    • The total amount of unemployment benefits you’re eligible for (up to 30 weeks)
    • What your payment each week will be (up to $742)
    • What support you’ll get for dependents ($25 for each eligible dependent)
    • The number of weeks you can claim benefits (no more than 30 weeks)

    Next, you’ll get a letter called a “Determination Notice” that tells you whether you’ve been approved for unemployment benefits. This letter is sent after DUA confirms that you’ve left your job for an approvable reason.

    If either part of your application is denied, you can appeal the decision within 10 days.

    Note: It can take a few weeks to process your claim. You should continue with step 4 as soon as you apply, even if you haven’t heard back from DUA yet.

  4. Request weekly benefits

    You can start requesting weekly benefits on the Sunday after you apply. Every time you request weekly benefits, you’ll be asked  3 questions for the previous week, Saturday to Saturday:

    • If you looked for work that week
    • If you were able to work and available for work that week
    • If you worked during that week

    You have to complete this step every week to make sure you get your benefits.

    You can request weekly benefits:

    • Online

    Log in to your UI online account and select “Request Benefit Payment” on your account home page. Follow the prompts to file for benefits.

    • By phone

    To request weekly benefits by phone, call the DUA TeleCert line at (617) 626-6338. You can do this any day of the week between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. 

    You should start requesting weekly benefits even if your application hasn’t been approved yet.

  5. Keep a log of your job search

    To stay eligible for unemployment benefits, you have to look for a job or do something related to your job search on at least 3 days each week. Activities that meet this requirement include:

    • Registering at a One-Stop Career Center
    • Applying for a job
    • Going to a job interview
    • Attending a job fair or workshop

    You have to provide your job search activity if DUA asks for it. When you request your weekly benefits, you can choose to keep track of what you’ve done each week on UI Online or a paper work search activity log.

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