5. When Does Eligibility for Benefits Begin?
A claimant becomes eligible to begin collecting UI benefits one week after becoming unemployed. This week-long waiting period starts on the Sunday before the date of the claimant’s application. However, if the claimant is reopening a previous claim, the 1-week waiting requirement is waived. Under G.L. c. 151A, § 62A(f), claimants are deemed to have initiated a claim on the first day that they contact or attempt to contact DUA, whether or not they are able to speak with a DUA representative on that day. The effective date of the claim is the Sunday before the date that the claimant first attempts to contact DUA (subject to the 1-week waiting period). The employer must display a DUA poster titled “Information on UI Benefits” and provide former workers with written notice of how to file for UI benefits within 30 days of the last day they worked.
Note: A UI Online application is not complete until the Confirmation Page appears. If not completed up through Saturday at 9:59 pm of the week it was started, a Request for Benefit Payment is saved on UI Online.
Predating a Claim
If the employer does not give written notice of how to file for UI benefits within 30 days from the last day the claimant provided paid work and the claimant does not file a timely application for benefits, the claimant is automatically entitled to have the claim predated to the first week of UI eligibility. G.L. c. 151A, § 62A(g.) See BR-0026 0086 90 (2/27/19) (where a claimant is not given written information on filing unemployment claims by their most recent employer, they are automatically entitled to have their claim pre-dated, pursuant to G.L. c. 151A, § 62A(g), without a showing of good cause); BR-109713 (1/14/11). Notwithstanding this statutory requirement, DUA repeatedly denied predates and the Board repeatedly reversed these denials on the grounds that the employer has failed to provide written instructions. BR-0024 6139 64 (12/24/2018); BR-0025 1553 94 (9/28/2018); BR-0022 533 19 (4/30/18); BR-0022 4583 16 (3/16/18); BR-0021 6448 96 (11/28/17); BR-0022 1570 69 (9/13/17); BR-0021 1788 30 (8/28/17); BR-0019 9348 56 (6/28/17); BR0019 9348 56 (6/28/17); BR-0017 7570 67 (8/26/16); BR-112109 (11/30/10) (Key). DUA has now clarified that where the employer has failed to provide information, a predate is required. AH c. 2, § 2C. Moreover, the employer has the burden of proof to show that it provided the claimant with information on how to file for unemployment insurance within thirty days after the employment was severed. BR-0017 7491 67 (6/14/16). If the employer failed to provide the claimant with instructions on how to file the claim, the claimant is permitted to predate the claim.
Predating of claims is also available when the claimant was in partial unemployment during the week prior to filing the claim, and if the claimant is able to establish good cause for failing to file earlier. BR-112109 (11/30/10). BR-109713 (1/14/11); BR- 112109 (11/30/10) (Key). Other reasons for predating include the inability to reach a Call Center or DUA representative due to the volume of claims, BR-0017 2892 01 (6/28/16), or the failure of DUA to provide information in a claimant’s primary language. (For additional provisions concerning predated claims, see G.L. c. 151A, §23(b); 430 CMR 4.01(3), (4); SRH §§ 1622, 1622(A) - (B) (revised 5/2017). Problems with UI Online can also constitute grounds for predating a claim. BR-0022 3860 38 (1/19/18)(holding that technical barriers in DUA’s filing and registration system for someone who is in and out of unemployment constitutes good cause for predating). For additional provisions concerning predated claims, see G.L. c. 151A, §23(b); 430 CMR 4.01(3), (4); AH c. 2, §2.
Note 1: Using UI Online, claimants can predate their claim back only 1 week. If claimants would like to predate their claim for more than 1 week, they need to call the DUA Call Center at 877-626-6800 toll free for area codes 351, 413, 508, 774, and 978 or 617-626-6800 and speak with an agent.
Note 2: The Call Center cannot resolve a request to predate by more than 14 days for an initial claim, or by more than 21 days for a continued claim; an adjuster will resolve this request.
Payment of UI Benefits
Once DUA determines the claimant eligible for UI, the state will issue UI benefits through a DUA Debit Mastercard (Bank of America), or, if the claimant affirmatively chooses, through direct deposit. To activate the Bank of America card, call the bank’s customer service at 1-855-898-7292. Information on direct deposit is available at the DUA website at https://www.mass.gov/how-to/set-up-direct-deposit-for-your-unemployment-benefits, or by calling 877-626-6800 toll free for area codes 351, 413, 508, 774, and 978 or 617-626-6800. Claimants who lose a paper check, have 12 months from the date of issuance to request a replacement UI payment and similarly have 12 months to activate the DUA Debit Card. After the 12 month period, unused funds will be credited back to the UI Trust Fund unless the claimant demonstrates "extreme, extenuating circumstance." See UIPP # 2016.02, Implementation of Time Limit on Replacement UI Payments (2/12/16).