Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

The CARES Act creates the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC), which provides an additional $600 per week to individuals who are currently collecting regular unemployment benefits. The CARES Act also aids individuals not covered under traditional unemployment insurance such as the self-employed, gig economy workers and others. These new benefits will be funded at the federal level, but will be administered by the states. The benefit will become available after the date on which state officials entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor and ends no later than July 31, 2020.


On April 9, the Baker-Polito Administration announced details for the initial implementation of federal unemployment benefits in the CARES Act. The announcement reflects the first set of partial guidance that Massachusetts will immediately implement to support unemployed workers. The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has issued new guidance to instruct all residents of what actions they can take now and awaits additional guidance from the federal government for the remainder of benefits authorized by the CARES Act. The information available is as follows:

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC):

The FPUC program will provide an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting:

    • Regular Unemployment Compensation (UC),
    • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC),
    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA),
    • Extended Benefits (EB),
    • Trade Readjustment Act (TRA), and
    • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DA).

The DUA has already begun implementing the FPUC program for regular UC claimants:

    • The $600 will be added to all eligible weeks of benefits retroactive to March 29, 2020 and continuing until July 31, 2020. FPUC monetary disbursements will begin being disbursed to individuals who are currently collecting benefits on regular UC claims.
    • Eligible claimants who are already receiving regular UC do not need to do anything for the additional $600 to be added to their weekly benefit amount.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

    • The PEUC program provides for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have exhausted their previous unemployment benefits. Any of the additional 13 weeks of benefits received prior to July 31, 2020 should include the extra $600 FPUC payment.
    • 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.
    • No action is required 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.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

    • The PUA will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not working as a result of COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or PEUC.
    • This benefit is not currently available, However, the DUA is working with a vendor to build a new platform to disburse those benefits. This platform is expected to begin processing claims on or about April 30, 2020.
    • Eligible claimants under PUA will be retroactively compensated with this benefit beginning February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later. The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending December 26, 2020.