State Announces Implementation Of CARES Act Unemployment Benefits For Self-Employed, Gig Economy Workers

The state announced today that Massachusetts residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now apply online for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program – more than one week ahead of the original schedule that predicted an April 30 rollout.
The new federal PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-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. Some of the most affected workers in this category were ride-share (Uber or Lyft) drivers who are not officially employees
Applicants can learn more and apply at
“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 this new program, individuals must provide self-certification that they are otherwise able and available to work, but are prevented from doing so by circumstances relating to COVID-19, including their own illness or that of a family member.
Those able to telework with pay and individuals receiving paid sick or other leave will not qualify for PUA. Individuals receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits for less than their customary work week, however, may still be eligible for PUA. Also, those working fewer hours, resulting in a loss of income due to COVID-19, who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for PUA.
“It is vital that our workforce gets the resources and help they need during this critical time,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta. “I’m proud of everything our team is doing to rapidly implement new programs, and ensure that as many eligible workers as possible get some relief.”
The federal CARES Act signed into law on March 27 created PUA, as well as another temporary federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) that provides an additional $600 weekly benefit for those receiving unemployment benefits or PUA. FPUC provides that additional benefit through July 25, 2020.
All approved PUA applications will initially receive the minimum weekly benefit amount, plus the additional $600 FPUC weekly benefit. Once a worker’s wages are verified, weekly benefit amounts may increase. The amount of PUA benefits received is based on the individual’s reported previous income. PUA benefits may not be more than the state’s maximum weekly benefit rate for regular unemployment, which is $823 in Massachusetts.
Weekly benefits, including any increase to your weekly benefit amount, will be retroactive to January 27, 2020, or the date when you became unemployed, whichever is more recent, as long as you became unable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason.
•PUA Application Process:
To apply, individuals must provide their Social Security number or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) number if not a citizen of the United States, and their wage records for 2019, which includes 1099 forms, pay stubs, or bank statements. Applicants will also need the Social Security numbers and dates of birth for dependent children and, if requesting direct deposit for payment, your bank account and routing numbers. A full list of required documents is available at
Please note that, initially, the system can only pay benefits retroactively to the week ending March 14, 2020. Eligible workers will be able to certify for benefits, and will be able to request benefits retroactively to January 27, 2020, if their dates of unemployment make them eligible.
Individuals who are determined ineligible for PUA will receive a written disqualification along with information on how to pursue an appeal. Additional information about the appeals process will be separately posted at a later date.

10 comments for “State Announces Implementation Of CARES Act Unemployment Benefits For Self-Employed, Gig Economy Workers

  1. Gerald Crown
    April 21, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    I am an Independent Contractor living in MA, working in N.Y.C. I curremtly have an apartment in contract and another for sale. I did not have earnings in 2019.My earnings are on a commission basis with the firm I am asociated with. My office building is closed. Can I apply for unemployment insurance?
    Much Appreciation,
    Gerald Crown

  2. Gerald Crown
    April 21, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I live in MA., work in NYC. Currently have an apartment in contract and another for sale. No income in 2019. NYC building with my office is closed. How do I apply?

  3. Very Frustrated
    April 21, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    Massachusetts still hasn’t addressed those that were already unemployed and who’s benefits have expired recently. The CARES ACT extends benefits an additional 13 weeks, plus the additional 600 payment weekly retroactively to March 30th. People are desperate, what is Massachusetts DUA’s problem?

  4. dawn murdock-jacobs
    April 22, 2020 at 5:28 am

    My husband supplemented his s.s. benefits by clamming but when the stay at home order by governor he was unable to sell to dealer because it affected no indoor dining. Now a few clammers have found buyers but my husband worries about risk of being around other clammers or public on beach not practicing 6 ft apart or not wearing face mask. We both care for our grandchildren under a kinship foster care and the risk of being exposed to virus has kept him from working . Is he eligible for unemployment ; we did pay our es payments this spring hoping things would get better and demand for clams increase.

  5. Heather
    April 23, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    To Very Frustrated-

    If you were already unemployed prior to COVID-19 and your benefits have expired recently, then you need to apply for PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance). There is an option that lets you apply to extend your current unemployment benefits, but will only be for 13 weeks I believe. I just did this, go to
    Not sure how long it will take for your application to process, but hopefully not long, I would think the state is expediting things : / These benefits are based on your 2019 (if you had any) so you’ll need your exact earnings from 2019, can find in Box 1 on your W-2. I believe you will also receive the $600 on top of your new unemployment benefits if you are approved. Hopefully this helps!

  6. Catherine
    April 23, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    My 15yr old daughter was working and filed for unemployment but it said she didn’t make enough. So we just tried filing for the cares act unemployment and that is saying she needs to be 18?

  7. Paul Prunier
    April 26, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    I was excepted but cant log into my pua account. They asked a security question that I never seen nor answered. Called state ui they bounced me to another number called them. Fill out contact form. Well again they never call back. Do we have to log in just like regular ui and fill out weekly form . Is it the regular ui site or pua site? I can not get answers anywhere

  8. Pat N
    April 30, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Are there any programs that assist working undocumented immigrants who have lost all/most of their incomes due to the Pandemic?

  9. Kane Dimasso-Scott
    May 1, 2020 at 9:03 am

    The One Chelsea Fund is the best way to help or get help. See the link below. It is backed by the United Way, overseen by local Chelsea non-profits. $250 checks once a week.
    The City of Chelsea has established a rental payment program that started yesterday. See link below.
    There are a ton more services for food. No questions asked. No immigration questions, no residency questions.
    Testing is also open to the undocumented at multiple locations in Chelsea free of charge.

  10. June 7, 2020 at 10:15 am

    My. Ship is sinkinjing faat need. Help. With everything but food rent 1000.00 month for. 6 people please get back to me asap

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