47. Are Claimants Entitled to Additional Benefits for Their Children?
A claimant who is the natural, adoptive, step-parent, or legal guardian of a child or is under a court order to provide support to a child and who provides more than 50 percent of the support for the child is entitled to a dependency allowance of $25 per week for each dependent child up to age 18. The allowance is also available for a dependent child over age 18 who is unable to work because of a physical or mental disability and for a dependent child between ages 18 and 24 who is a full-time student at an educational institution. G.L. c. 151A, § 29(c).
As of December 7, 2022, there is no cap on the total amount of dependency allowance benefits claimants may receive. Prior to that date, claimants were limited to receiving a total dependency allowance up to a maximum of 50 percent of their weekly benefit amount. G.L. c. 151A, § 29(c), as amended by the Acts of 2020, Ch. 81, §§ 1, 7.
Once the dependency allowance is established, it does not change during the benefit year, except that one spouse can transfer the allowance to their spouse; only one spouse at a time may receive a dependency allowance during the same week of UI.
A claimant whose child does not live with them or her is still eligible for the dependency benefit, so long as they provide more than 50 percent of the child’s financial support and as long as the child resides in the US or its territories or possessions. AH c. 3, § 7B.2. Similarly, a claimant who is under a court order to pay child support, and the other parent has not already claimed the child for purposes of UI dependency benefits, is eligible for the dependency benefit. AH c. 3, § 7B.4. The Board also has determined that a grandmother taking care of a grandchild under a court-ordered temporary guardianship is also entitled to a dependency allowance. BR-0021 4726 92 & 0021 4726 98 (10/23/17) (finding that the fact the order was temporary not dispositive as the relevant time-period is during the base period of the claim).
Where a claimant received government support in the form of food stamps, the Board found that the amount should be equally attributed to both parents such that the father was able to receive dependency allowance where his income plus have the food stamp allotment constituted more than 50% of the support of two children. BR-0023 9238 50 (5/21/18) (Key). The Board reversed a review examiner's decision that held that because a claimant received more in public assistance benefits than she had earned from employment, she was ineligible for a dependency allowance because the government, not she, had paid more than 50 percent of the support for the claimant’s child. The Board based its reversal on G.L. c. 151A, § 29(c) (defining dependents) and prior SRH § 1652(C), that requires the claimant to establish that they were the child’s main financial support during the base period of the claim rather than considering income during the benefit year. BR-0012 6566 49 (3/16/15); BR-0029 0738 15 (6/11/19)(same); BR-0029 0736 96 (6/10/19) (same); AH c. 3, § 7B.2.
The Board of Review held a mother could claim the dependency allowance for her 19 year-old daughter who was attending college in another town. BR-0011915371 (9/8/2015). In addition, the Board of Review held a stepfather could claim his minor stepson for a dependency allowance. BR-0011 8516 99 (8/15/2015).
Finally, where the claimant, who had not supplied the information for the receipt of the dependency allowance, where she had done so after the hearing, the Board found that the claimant was entitled to the dependency allowance and reversed the Review Examiner’s denial. BR-0017 5957 87 (1/20/17).