49. How Do Part-Time Earnings Affect UI Benefits During the Benefit Year?

The Partial-Earnings Disregard

Claimants who are collecting UI and find some new employment have a duty to report these earnings in their weekly certification. Claimants are entitled to a disregard of a portion of their gross earnings (or net earning from self-employment), such that that portion is not deducted from their weekly UI benefit. The disregard is equal to one-third of their weekly benefit rate (excluding any dependency allowance). Any weekly earnings above that one-third disregard cause a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the weekly UI benefit. The disregarded earnings plus the individual’s weekly benefit may not equal or exceed the individual's average weekly wage. G.L. c. 151A, § 29(b).

Leaving Newly Obtained Part-Time Work in the Benefit Year

A constructive deduction is applied when a claimant is separated, under disqualifying circumstances, from part-time employment newly obtained during the benefit year. 430 CMR 4.76(1)(a)(ii); BR-1989041 (5/16/14). (See Question 45 Constructive-Deduction Regulations and Amended Statutory Provisions). In addition to the standard arguments about why the leaving should not be disqualifying, also consider whether the work was suitable under G.L. c. 151A, § 25(c)(2) (work is not suitable where remuneration, hours, or other conditions of work offered are substantially less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality), or whether the job was “trial work.” (See Question 8.) 

A constructive deduction is often inappropriate when the claimant has accepted part-time work during the benefit year. For example, the Board has found that if claimants immediately accept part-time work during their benefit year, even after voluntarily separating from their former full-time employer, 430 CMR 4.76 requires that the claimants are not subjected to disqualification nor constructive deduction. Rather, the penalty is limited to the usual earnings disregard. BR-0027 2059 15 (4/24/19) Key).

Requalifying on a Constructive Deduction, and Effect on Benefit Credit

In order to requalify for benefits after a constructive deduction, the requalification rule applies: i.e., claimants must have had eight weeks of earnings and have earned an amount equivalent to, or in excess of, eight times their weekly benefit amount. G.L. c. 151A, § 25(e) (see Question 10). Under constructive-deduction regulations promulgated in 2013, claimants subject to a constructive deduction who obtain new part-time work, or return to their former part-time work, will have the earnings disregard applied but will no longer be subject to the constructive deduction while employed. 430 CMR. 4.76 (3). The benefit-credit balance (the total amount of UI benefits payable on that particular claim) is reduced only by the amount of benefits actually paid. This allows claimants to collect their entire benefit credit balance if they remain unemployed long enough and can exhaust all the benefits available on their claim. AH c. 6, § 2; c. 9, § 2B.1.