Mass. residents ineligible for regular unemployment benefits can apply for assistance through PUA program

BOSTON (WHDH) - Massachusetts residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now apply for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the Baker-Polito administration announced Monday.

The new federal PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who are unable to work because of a coronavirus-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. This includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those with limited work history.

“As a Commonwealth, we are committed to doing everything in our power, and moving as urgently as possible to get workers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis the benefits they deserve,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With the implementation of this new federal benefit program, we can better support workers not normally covered by the unemployment system like those who are self-employed or work in the gig economy.”

To be eligible for the program, individuals must provide self-certification that they are otherwise able and available to work but are prevented from doing so due to circumstances related to COVID-19, including their own illness or that of a family member.

All approved PUA applications will initially receive the minimum weekly benefit amount, along with the additional $600 weekly benefit as part of a temporary federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Applicants can learn more and apply at www.mass.gov/pua.

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