BRIDGEWATER — Town Manager Michael Dutton would like to inform Bridgewater residents of new unemployment benefits made available under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
On Monday, April 20, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that Massachusetts residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now apply online for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
The new federal PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to those 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.
Applicants can learn more and apply at www.mass.gov/pua.
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.
More more information on eligibility requirement and other details, visit the Massachusetts PUA website here.
The federal CARES Act, signed into law on Friday, March 27, created PUA and 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 Thursday, July 25.
The Commonwealth announced implementation of FPUC earlier this month.
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 a resident’s weekly benefit amount, will be retroactive to Jan. 27, or the date when they became unemployed, whichever is more recent, as long as the resident became unable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason.