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6. What Does a Claimant Need to Do to Keep Getting UI Benefits or to Requalify for UI Benefits & End an Indefinite Disqualification?

ALERT:   IN LIGHT OF THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, ASPECTS OF THE UI PROCESS HAVE BEEN MODIFIED.  VISIT https://www.masslegalservices.org/covid-19-and-ui FOR CURRENT INFORMATION.

Certification

A claimant must certify on a weekly basis and answer whether or not the claimant is currently working and has been looking for work for each week of collecting benefits. DUA has replaced mail certification with the English-only UI Online and with TeleCert in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Note: Where a claimant's certification is late because the requirements were not provided in the claimant's primary language, the late certification is for "good cause" and must be accepted. See 430 CMR 4.13(4)

Claimants can use TeleCert to certify work search via telephone. To contact the TeleClaim Center, a claimant should call the appropriate telephone number below:

  • For Area Codes 351, 413, 508, 774, and 978877-626-6800
  • For Area Code 617 and all others:  617-626-6338

The TeleClaim Center (listed in Appendix A) can provide information about the status of the claim. For information about the issuance of a check, a claimant can call the Claims Center.

Far too often, claimants may experience lengthy wait times or busy signals. To help speed the process, claimants should call on the day of the week that corresponds with the last number of their Social Security number: Monday – 0, 1; Tuesday – 2, 3; Wednesday – 4, 5, 6; Thursday – 7, 8, 9; Friday – any last digit. See questions asked during Telecert (translated into 9 languages).

Note: It is critical that advocates remind claimants to continue certifying online or by telephone (617-626-6800 or 877-626-6800), even if they are initially disqualified, so that they can collect all retroactive benefits if they win their appeal.

Documenting Work Search

As a condition of receiving UI benefits on a continued basis, DUA requires that claimants:

  • make a minimum of 3 work-search contacts for each week in which they claim benefits;
  • keep a detailed log of those work-search contacts including emails to and from the employers, job application recipts, job postings, job fair announcements, and networking club information; and
  • provide a work-search log and supporting documentation to DUA upon request.

Claimants are increasingly denied UI benefits for erroneous reasons because an adjudicator or a review examiner arbitrarily determines that their work search efforts are inadequate as illustrated by the following decision by the Board of Review reversing those denials. The Board has previously granted a remand in order to afford a claimant the opportunity to consolidate evidence of their work search and present it at a later date. When the claimant was able to provide evidence that she was searching for work 3 to 4 days a week in a range of suitable jobs for a diverse field of employers, the Board reversed her previous denial of UI benefits. BR-0025 1598 07 (3/19/19). Further, the Board reversed a denial of UI benefits where the claimant entered detailed work search efforts in the UIDatabase but did not keep a separate comprehensive record. The claimant’s use of the database was sufficient to establish work search efforts under G.L. c. 151A, § 24(b), although the Board noted that keeping a separate record is preferable. BR- 0026 4550 04 (12/24/2018). In another instance the Board reveresed a denial of UI benefits where a review examiner rejected a claimant's work search activity log on the grounds that it was "fabricated and unreliable" because the entries on the log were made with the same penmanship. The Board found the review examiner's decision unreasonable where there is no requirement that the work-search logs must be contemporaneously completed and where the examiner failed to ask the claimant any questions on how the logs were completed. BR - 0018 7588 55 (11/7/16). The Board reversed a disqualification where the claimant did not engage in 3 distinct job search activities on 3 different days each week. The Board found that nothing in the DUA's policies required that the job search contacts be made in different ways. BR - 0016 8161 05 (6/30/16). See also, AH c. 4, § 4B (describing a wide range of possible work search activities). The Board reversed a review examiner's decision that the claimant had not fulfilled the "3 methods of work search" where the claimant sought work on-line, through newspaper ads, and by called several trucking companies on multiple days even though the claimant did not actually speak to someone in the companies about available work. BR - 0020 1858 47 (3/29/17). The Board reversed a one-week denial of UI benefits where the review examiner's based the decision on the failure to provide a work search log even though the claimant credibly testified, and the review examiner's so found, that she had looked for work for 3 to 4 days that week and had a job interview that week. BR - 0018 0253 13 (8/31/16). Finally, the Board has found that DUA's guideline of "three mehtods on three different days," while a rule of thumb applicable to a majority of cases, should not be rigidly applied to deny all claimants under all circumstances. BR - 0018 3756 36 (6/14/16)(holding that a claimant who was a ballet dancer travelled and auditioned for various jobs around the country but could not always meet the "three on three.") and reiterated this position reversing a UI denial where an adjunct professor demonstrated that she was both preparing her teaching and looking for full-time work.  BR 0022 9460 73 (2/27/18).

Claimants who file their weekly UI claim online have the option of filling out their work-search log as part of that process. (See UI Online Claimant User Guide: Requesting Weekly Benefits—Regular UI Work Search Requirements, p. 33.)

For an example of a completed work-search log, see Appendix GWork-search logs can be downloaded at www.mass.gov/dua/worksearch and are also available at the local career centers. A sample work-search log is also provided in A Guide to Benefits and Employment Services for Claimants (p.35), which DUA sends to claimants when they initially file for UI. DUA requires claimants to keep the information and to provide it to DUA upon request.

Note: DUA no longer permits claimants to certify while outside the U.S., its territories and Canada and provides this information to employers who are required, in turn, to provide the information to claimants. However, the Board has held that a claimant who is in the US during the majority (at least 4 days) of any week in which they traveled to and certified from a foreign country is entitled to UI if otherwise eligible.  BR-0015 1720 09 (12/22/15) (Key).

DUA Language Notice Requirements

G.L. c. 151A, § 62A(d)(iii) provides that DUA must issue all notices in English, Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Italian, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Khmer, Russian, and any other language that is the primary language of at least one half of 1% of Massachusetts’s residents. If DUA does not issue a bilingual notice in the claimant’s primary language and this omission results in the claimant’s failure to meet a deadline or requirement, then DUA’s omission constitutes good cause for the claimant’s failure to meet the deadline or requirement. 430 CMR 4.13(4). (See Question 52 for more information on DUA’s obligations under this statute.)

Requalifying for UI Benefits after a Prior Disqualification & Other Indefinite Disqualifications Issues

There are numerous situations where a claimant is disqualified and subsequent events result in ending the denial.  Until recently, claimants were faced with indefinite denials that were often not addressed until the claimant appealed to the Board.  DUA has now made clear that the Unemployment Insurance Telephone Claims Center (UITCC) is responsible for ending indefinite disqualifications on issues not appealed to the Hearings Department. Similarly, the Hearings Department must end indefinite disqualifications if relevant information is provided after the hearing decision. See UIPP No. 2020.04, End Indefinite Denial Procedures, (2/19/20)(rescinding UIPP No. 2019.02 (2/8/19).  The UIPP addresses the following 3 scenarios:

1) Requalifying Wages: If a claimant’s claim for UI benefits was denied due to separation issues, the claimant can requalify for UI by obtaining new work, for at least 8 weeks and have earned gross wages equal to or greater than 8 times the claimant’s weekly benefit amount.  If the last claim ended, the claimant must apply for a new claim (which looks at earnings in a new base period, i.e., wages that were not previously used to determine the weekly benefit amount.)  If the benefit year has not ended, then DUA reopens the claim and pays the same UI benefits;

2) Ending Indefinite Disqualification: This scenario insures eligibility where new information is available after an adjudication decision or a decision by the Hearings Department, such as a doctor’s note on a capability issue, or showing that a claimant is not still employed, etc.

3) Other Issues:  E.g., when a claimant is provided a predate on a new claim and payment on the new claim is prevented due to a disqualification on a prior claim (including a disqualification due to a hearings decision or to a default at the hearing) because the prior disqualifying claim is overlapping due to the change in date that the benefit year began. The indefinite denial must be ended when the prior disqualification is no longer applicable.

 


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