Starting today, people currently receiving unemployment benefits and those applying for benefits will start seeing an extra $600 on their benefit checks in addition to their regular benefits.
At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker said the state has been calling the federal government everyday seeking guidance on how to implement the three new unemployment benefit services part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, signed by President Donald Trump, which significantly expands unemployment benefits.
The state, which typically receives 7,000 to 10,000 unemployment claims over a three week period, has received 470,000 unemployment claims in the past three weeks.
“These numbers obviously are staggering and we know the story behind all of them is about more than just numbers. Between every new claim is a story of economic disruption and hardship caused by the unprecedented impact of this virus,” Baker said.
The first program is an additional $600 per week on top of what claimants receive.
“As of today all eligible claimants will receive an additional $600 weekly benefit,” Baker said.
People who are already receiving unemployment claims and people who are applying for new claims do not need to take any additional action to receive the extra $600 benefit. The benefit is retroactive to March 29 and will continue until the end of July.”
The second program is set to allow people who have a 1099 tax form, are self-employed, or work in the “gig economy” to receive unemployment benefits. The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is working to create a platform for these workers to begin receiving these benefits. The platform is expected to begin processing claims by the end of the month, according to Baker. This will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for these workers. Baker said people interested in applying for this program should check the DUA website for updates.
The third program is a 13-week extension of benefits for people who have exhausted their previous unemployment benefits. This program is not available yet because the DUA is seeking federal guidance on how to implement those benefits.
“I think we know this is frustrating for many, many people here in Massachusetts. People who have lost their job through no fault of their own are trying hard to access funds they need to get by,” Baker said. “The new federal CARES Act, those benefits haven’t been able to be made available as quickly as any of us would like, but you have our commitment that we’re going to continue to do all we can to get the resources out the door to help workers that are impacted by this unprecedented situation.