Demystifying the Process to File and Collect Massachusetts Unemployment Benefits

The Great Recession has left thousands of Massachusetts residents in unfamiliar territory: filing unemployment insurance compensation for the first time. On the surface, filing for unemployment claims can appear to be a complicated process the first time someone has to file for unemployment benefits. This article breaks down the process so residents in Massachusetts know what to do and what to expect.

Applying for Unemployment in Massachusetts

Residents who have lost their job in Massachusetts must apply for unemployment through the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). The application process involves completing a new claim to receive unemployment insurance. Anyone who has lost a job or has a reduction in work hours may apply for benefits.

Eligibility is determined based on several factors:

  • Wages earned during the base period
  • The worker is not at fault for the job loss The worker must be able and available for a new job
  • Applications are accepted at any of the Unemployment Insurance walk-in centers throughout the state. It could take up to three weeks before an application is processed and approved.

Filing for Unemployment Benefits in Massachusetts

Once the unemployment application is approved, workers can begin the unemployment filing process. Filing unemployment during the weeks prior to approval is required before payments are made.

There are two ways residents can file for unemployment compensation benefits: by phone or online. Whether workers file unemployment by phone or online, the questions are the same. Basically, workers are asked if they looked for work; were available for work; and, if they worked during the claim week.

By Phone

Workers must use the TeleCert system to file unemployment claims by phone. The days and hours to file for unemployment are Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; Sundays from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Workers are encouraged to record the date and time of the unemployment filing.


Workers must register for an account to use the online DUA system. The hours to file online are the same as using TeleCert. After completion, workers should print the confirmation page.

How to Collect Unemployment Benefits in Massachusetts

Workers find out how to collect unemployment benefits when they complete the initial application. They can collect unemployment payments with a paper check or direct deposit.

Checks to collect unemployment payments are mailed to workers’ mailing address. Direct deposit is a secure, fast way to receive unemployment compensation. Direct deposit can be made to either a savings or checking account.

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