Helpful Information for Constituents
Federal Stimulus & Taxes
Unemployment Virtual Town Halls
In order to better meet the needs of customers whose employment has been affected by the coronavirus, DUA will be hosting daily town hall meetings where we will take our constituents through a step by step process of achieving a successful unemployment claim and taking questions from claimants across the Commonwealth. A web link to the daily visual presentation can be viewed here. You can also download the step by step presentation by going here. Sign up information for the virtual town hall is below.
CARES ACT Benefits
Implementation Of CARES Act unemployment benefits For self-employed, gig economy and other workers
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. 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.
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. The Commonwealth announced implementation of FPUC earlier this month, and you can read the full announcement here: https://www.mass.gov/news/massachusetts-announces-initial-implementation-of-new-federal-unemployment-benefits-from-0
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.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) For Individuals Who Exhausted Previous UI Benefits
The PEUC program provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have exhausted their previous unemployment benefits. The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020. The Department of Unemployment Assistance is awaiting additional federal guidance on how to implement and administer this program and the extended weeks of PEUC benefits are not yet available.
Next Steps For Claimants
No action at this time. Eligible claimants should continue to check for updates, which will be made available as soon as the state receives information from the federal government.
Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors - Connects community members to support one another and share resources for people who live, work, pray, play and/or learn in Newton.
Newton COVID-19 Care Fund - This fund was created to give financial assistance to Newton residents, people who work in Newton, and families with children receiving childcare services in Newton or enrolled in Newton Public Schools. City of Newton First Responders who incur new childcare expenses or other expenses due to the crisis are also eligible.
Boys and Girls Club of Newton - families that are associated with the Boys & Girls Club of Newton may receive supplemental food assistance delivered to their door.
Feed the Fight Boston - Help support local restaurants and healthcare workers.
Newton Food Pantry - check for hours and collection options.
Brookline Mutual Aid - a recently formed organization where neighbors are helping neighbors with grocery shopping, emergency childcare, and running errands. To volunteer or get help, email MutualAidBrookline@gmail.com or call 617-651-1468
Brookline Community Foundation- BCF Safety Net provides small, timely grants to individuals and families for individual urgent needs including food, care taking and housing assistance.
Brookline Food Pantry - check for hours and collection options.
Wellesley Food Pantry - check for hours and collection options.
Wellesley Friendly Aid - A community-based organization that provides assistance to Wellesley residents and families.
If you have questions about health insurance, call Health Care For All's hotline at 1-800-272-4232.
If you have experienced a loss of wages due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and think you may be eligible for MassHealth benefits, you can apply for MassHealth online if you are under the age of 65 and do not require long term care. If you have any questions about how to apply, or are over the age of 65 or need long term care, please call our Customer Service Center at (800) 841-2900; TTY: (800) 497-4648.
The Massachusetts Health Connector has opened a special enrollment period because of the coronavirus. Qualified individuals may enroll through May 25th.
SNAP Benefits - You may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) administers SNAP benefits. SNAP provides a monthly benefit to buy nutritious foods. To get SNAP, you must be low-income and be a U.S. citizen or legal noncitizen (restrictions apply). Eligibility for SNAP benefits depends on financial and nonfinancial criteria.
Metro Housing Boston - Learn more about rent relief, utility arrears, and eviction prevention
Federal Stimulus Payments
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service launched a new web tool allowing quick registration for Economic Impact Payments for those who don’t normally file a tax return. The Non-filer Tool provides a free and easy option designed for people who don’t have a return filing obligation, including those with too little income to file. The feature is available only on IRS.gov, and users should look for Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here to take them directly to the tool. The tool is a Free File fillable forms product developed in partnership with the Free File Alliance. Please see attached EIP Rebate documents for more information.
IRS Toolkit for constituent and tax filing help
The Internal Revenue Service has prepared a toolkit with answers to commonly asked questions regarding stimulus payments, the Get My Payment and Non-Filers tools, and more.
The toolkit can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xn7_DnISJt8PdJHLj2qaFA7F8D7aWeFs/view
Some helpful websites people may visit for tax prep resources include:
Senior citizens (age 60 and over) are able to shop during specific hours at these stores:
Trader Joes—8- a.m. to 9 a.m. (Brookline and Newton)
Star Market—6-a.m. to 7 a.m. every day with extended hours until 9 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday (Brookline and Newton)
Stop and Shop 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily (Brookline and Newton)
Waban Market 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. (Newton)
Wegman’s 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. (Newton)
Whole Foods –8 a.m.to 9 a.m. daily (Brookline and Newton)
Brothers Marketplace 7 a.m.to 8 a.m. daily (Wellesley)
Fells Market 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily (use back door) (Wellesley)
Market Basket – 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. daily (Wellesley)
Roche Bros. – 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily (Wellesley)
Stop and Shop---6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily (Wellesley)
Whole Foods- 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily (Wellesley)