48. For How Long Can a Claimant Receive Unemployment Benefits?
The number of weeks during which a claimant receives UI benefits during the benefit year depends on the total benefit credit for the year. That amount is calculated by first determining which amount is less - 30 times the weekly benefit amount or 36 percent of the claimant's base period earnings. If the former, the claimant receives benefits for 26 weeks, (or 30 weeks during periods of higher unemployment), if the latter, the total benefit credit is divided by the weekly benefit amount to determine the number of weeks of UI benefit. Therefore, the number of weeks of UI benefits an individual claimant receives may be far fewer than 26, (or 30 weeks during periods of higher unemployment), depending on the number of weeks of earnings, the total earnings, and whether earnings fluctuated between different quarters of the base period. For an explanation about how the weekly benefit amount is calculated, see Question 4.
An additional period of UI eligibility may be available to employees who are locked out of work during a labor dispute. See Question 41.
Federal Extended UI Benefits
The federal extended UI benefits program is triggered during periods of high unemployment through Congressional enactments and also through a permanent federal-state extended benefits program. G.L. c. 151A § 30A. During a period when DUA is paying federal extended benefits, if the regular UI payment period is reduced from 30 times the weekly benefit amount, it is reduced to 26 times the weekly benefit amount.
Monetary eligibility for federal extended benefits is established three ways:
- The claimant has wages in the base period that exceed 40 times the weekly benefit amount (whereas regular UI requires 30 times the weekly benefit amount); or
- the claimant's base period wages exceed one and a half times the claimant's high quarter earnings; or
- the claimant had 20 weeks of full-time insured earnings. AH c. 3, § 8B. The third prong was recently added to the regulations, 430 CMR 4.01(7)(Rev. 1/12/18) as a result of the settlement of Stone v. Dept. of Unemployment Assistance & Exec. Office of Labor & Workforce Dev., Suffolk Superior Court, C.A. No. SUCV2012-04456-F (2018). Because DUA calculates monetary eligibility based on quarterly income, an individual denied federal extended UI benefits under the first or second will be asked to produce evidence of 20 weeks of full time work to prove eligibility under the third prong.
Under G.L. c. 151A § 30, unemployed workers who are eligible for UI may be entitled to an additional 26 times their weekly benefit rate if they are participating in a DUA-approved training program. An individual is participating in an approved training program is, he is deemed to be meeting both the work-search and availability requirements during the period of training. Note also that claimants participating in a DUA-approved Section 30 training program are also exempted from federal reemployment seminar participation requirements. 26 U.S.C. § 3304(a)(8); T.E.G.L. 20-11 § 3 (March 16, 2012). (For further information about Section 30 extended benefits, see Question 53).