(WWLP) - Millions of Americans are out of work, and with the economy failing to completely recover, more are still finding themselves out of a job every day. If you find yourself out of work and need to collect unemployment insurance, here is what to do and what to expect.
Information from Mass.gov
FILING AN INITIAL CLAIM
Even if you are receiving severance pay, you could still be eligible for unemployment benefits.
- The week you are first out of work, you should file an initial claim. You can do that by visiting a one-stop career center (such as FutureWorks in Springfield or Career Point in Holyoke) or calling the DUA TeleClaims center at (877) 626-6800. You have to call TeleClaim on your assigned day of the week, based on your Social Security number.
- If your Social Security number ends in 0 or 1, you should call TeleClaims on Monday. If your SSN ends in 2 or 3, you should call on Tuesday, if it ends in 4, 5, or 6, you should call on Wednesday, if it ends in 7, 8, or 9, you should call Thursday. All people may call on Friday.
- Be sure to have all your information ready: they need to know your Social Security number, the year you were born, your address and phone number, whether you have filed an unemployment claim anywhere in the last year, your last date of employment, they also need to know the names and addresses of all the employers you have had in the last 15 months, as well as the dates you worked for these employers. They also need to know why you are no longer employed, the names and dates of birth of any dependent children you have. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, you need to provide your alien registration number, and proof that you were legally eligible to work in Massachusetts.
- Remember that you do NOT have to pay a fee to file an unemployment claim in Massachusetts, and the state is warning people against third-party unemployment websites that charge.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
- After you file your initial claim, DUA will contact your former employer(s).
- DUA will mail you a Benefit Determination Form, letting you know about how much you will receive and for how long you will be able to collect benefits. You will also receive information about health insurance benefits.
- For a general idea of how much you will receive, the state has a spreadsheet on its website that allows you to calculate average benefits based on your average weekly pay ( click on "Benefits Estimator" on the right-hand side of the page ).
- You could be eligible for additional benefits of $25 per dependent child.
- High incomes are capped at a limit of $653 per week.
- 30 weeks is the maximum number of weeks that you may collect state benefits.
- You and your former employer will need to make statements about your separation.
- You must attend a seminar at a career center, which will give you information about searching for new work.
- If you are eligable, it usually takes about three weeks for your initial claim to process. You need to claim every week that you are unemployed, if you do, you will get retroactive checks for the week that your claim was being processed.
- Your claim will be closed if you do not claim every week, and if you are still out of work, you must call the TeleClaims center to re-activate it.
- You must demonstrate that you are actively looking for work. Suggested activities for your work search are outlined on the Labor and Workforce Development department's website.
WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE
- Independent consultants, workers in churches and certain religious organizations, commission-earning real estate agents or insurance agents, elected officials, members of the judiciary, worker trainees in programs administered by a nonprofit or public institution.
YOUR BENEFITS COULD BE AFFECTED IF
- You quit or were fired from your job.
- You refuse a job.
- You receive a pension.
- The amount of your pension changes.
- You received vacation pay.
- You are receiving workers' compensation.
- You are now self-employed.
- You are attending a school or training program not approved by the DUA.
- You request that your claim be predated.
- You have a previous overpayment.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
- If you become sick or injured while you collect benefits, you must let the DUA know. You must also let them know if you are attending school.
- You can do some work while receiving unemployment, but these earnings must be reported to the DUA.
- You have the right to appeal DUA findings, but be mindful of the amount of time allotted for such appeals.
- You have the right to all materials regarding your claim, and (with a few exceptions for your former employer or employers) your information is confidential unless you allow the DUA to release it.