BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says “there’s a lot of good news” for struggling workers after Congress passed the CARES Act to beef up unemployment insurance in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But he’s asking them to hold of on applying for the new benefits until the state receives more federal guidance to determine who is eligible and how much they should get.
The federal legislation allows for people who are self-employed, those who do contract work and those who get paid using a 1099 form to receive unemployment compensation. It also helps those who have recently exhausted their weeks of benefits and those who haven’t earned enough to qualify for state unemployment.
“The not-so-good news is that states are still waiting on guidance from the federal government on how to implement and start distributing these funds,” Baker said at a Monday news conference. “We expect this guidance to detail application requirements, business rules, eligibility determinations, exceptions and technical requirements, all of which are critical to assuring this program gets off to a good start.”
IMPORTANT INFO RE: UNEMPLOYMENT
The Department of Unemployment Assistance is awaiting federal guidance regarding the CARES Act’s application requirements, business rules, eligibility requirements, exceptions, and technical requirements: https://t.co/NLZ2aQDHlP#mapoli #COVID19MA
— MA State Senate (@MA_Senate) March 30, 2020
Baker said his administration was “on the phone all weekend” with federal partners, but the benefits aren’t ready to be applied for today.
“Right now, it’s important that Massachusetts residents seeking these new federal benefits don’t apply through the state’s current unemployment insurance platform,” he said. “Until the program is actually implemented under the federal guidance, those resources won’t be available.”
Anyone who is trying to apply at the moment won’t be able to get through the system and may create a “traffic jam” for others who already participate in the existing unemployment insurance system.
Baker said the state will share the latest news on unemployment benefits here.