How Long Do I Have to Work For to Collect Unemployment in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts defines an employer as having paid at least $1,500 in wages during any quarter of the base period or having had an employee/employees for at least 13 weeks out of the base period.

Massachusetts requires you to have earned at least 30 times the WBA within the entire base period. You also must have earned a minimum of $3,500 within the total base period.

MA computes the WBA by taking 50% of the Annual Weekly Wages (AWW) of the state. You are able to add $25 to this for each dependent you claim for up to ½ of your WBA.

Massachusetts offers both an extended base period and an alternate base period. The alternate base period considers the last three completed calendar quarters of the base period (instead of the first four) as well as any weeks you spent working during the quarter in which you filed for unemployment insurance (a typical base period excludes the quarter in which you file for unemployment) if you are otherwise ineligible for unemployment using the regular base period. You may also choose to use the alternate base period over the regular base period if it results in an at least 10% increase of your WBA. The extended base period is available to those who qualify. To qualify, you must have received worker’s compensation [due to being disabled] for at least seven weeks. If you meet this requirement, your base period may be extended up to 52 more weeks.

18 comments

  • Marie diaz

    I worked for a little over a year with one job left on good terms for a better opportunity i only worked 3 months then i got fired cause i missed too many days. I had an accident and got a really bad concussion and was given days off that was not accepted by my employer. Can i still receive benefits even tho i was fired?

  • Peter

    I started working on September 1st 2016 and got laid off July 1st 2017. During this period I got paid $800 a week. I did not have a whole lot of work experience before this job, I worked for just a couple of months in 2015. Will I be eligible for unemployment from my most recent employer?

  • Erie

    So I live in MA, I started work at an agency on 1/12/17, I was let go on 7/3/17. I’ve made $11300 in that time. I get paid biweekly about $800 or $400 weekly. Previous to 1/12/17 I was a sub contractor for a company from 2/15/16 to 12/15/16 I made $16,000 during that time. Am I eligible for unemployment in MA and how do I deal with the base rate for the previous year when I was a sub contractor part of that year?

    • Yes, you qualify. MA will determine benefits based on all W-2 wages appearing in its system earned between Apr. 2016-Mar. 2017 or July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017. Subcontractor wages if paid on 1099 will not be used. You don’t have to “handle” anything. Just report your employers. MA will not take your word for your earnings – what matters is what has been reported to MA in the form of W-2 wages. You may need to provide paystubs for earnings Apr-June 2017.

  • Brian

    I have worked in MA for 6 months and have been let go. During that period I earned $770 per week.

    Prior to that I worked in CT for 3.5 years and earned $700per week. I have lived in MA during both positions.

    How do I figure my unemployment benefit. Does MA pay it or does CT pay it?

    • You have the opportunity for two claims. Apply in CT. When those benefits are exhausted, should you still be unemployed, then file in MA. MA takes forever to approve claims, so if you don’t want to be waiting two months or longer for benefits, the opportunity for a CT claim right now is a good one.

      • Brian

        Thank you for the response Daphne. Question though, I wasn’t let go fro mthe CT job, I resigned for another one. Can I still collect unemployment from there, would the employer approve it?

  • Mary Jo

    I am currently (since 9/2016) the paid supervisor and employee (along with 4 other part-time people) for my elderly mother’s care. I am also her POA. We have paid all withheld taxes, medicare, SS and UI. My mother is moving to an assisted living facility. We will all be unemployed. Even though I am her relative, will I be able to collect unemployment benefits? My earnings meet the requirements.

  • Amanda Hurley

    I justbstarted working at a job that went out of business after working there for 3 weeks. They laid everyone off and gabe information for unemployment. Do i qualify? Some people have said you have to be with the company for a certain amount of time.

    • Earnings history going back to 15 months is what matters, not length of time on the job. If you have other employment history in MA, you may qualify. Apply for benefits and let MA determine your eligibility.

  • Matt

    I’m about to work at least 60 hours a week for 3 weeks making $40 an hour and was just curious if that might qualify

  • Philip J. Locigno jr.

    I worked from August to December 2016. I work construction. Union laborer. I made over 11 thousand but when I tried to open a claim the recording said need more info. I did receive one check and been out of work since December 5 2016. I have enough to collect. Why is there a problem.

    • Many possible reasons for the suspension of benefits. You need to reach MA somehow. Visit an office if there is one near you if you are unsuccessful by phone. Otherwise – do not hesitate to email your state representative. Find yours, here:

      https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

      He will respond immediately and get someone at MA to contact you. Definitely email him before too much time goes by. If you don’t, the black hole of no ability to contact MA/no communication from MA will go on for months – with no benefits paid.

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