Jobless benefits extended to 17,000 low-income recipients 

robbins logo 12

The state Legislature recently passed legislation to enhance unemployment benefits for 17,000 people in Massachusetts by as much as $1,800 each. The legislation was signed into law by Gov. Baker shortly after.  

“The Senate is committed to helping the most vulnerable residents in our Commonwealth as we continue to confront the ongoing pandemic, and this bill reflects that commitment,” Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) said in a Nov. 5 news release. “During this difficult financial time, we need to do everything we can to support those in need so they can support themselves and their families.” 

“Right now, Massachusetts has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge). “We must protect our most disadvantaged populations, and this critically important legislation will help us accomplish that goal. We will provide much needed support for families and individuals struggling financially during these unprecedented times, and I am pleased the Legislature prioritized this matter.” 

"I am proud that we have passed this legislation extending benefits to those previously ineligible," said Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). "This pandemic is amplifying the economic and social inequities in our Commonwealth. This legislation is an important step in supporting the hardworking people of Massachusetts. We must continue to pass bold policies to make sure our recovery is equitable and supports the most vulnerable in our communities." 

In August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began accepting applications for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. The Trump White House included a restriction that banned people receiving less than $100 a week in benefits from receiving the LWA boost of $300 per week. 

Massachusetts was approved for six weeks of LWA compensation for every eligible recipient, covering the weeks ending Aug. 1 to Sept. 5. Numerous states acted to increase weekly benefit amounts, including neighboring Rhode Island and New Hampshire, so that no recipient of unemployment would be left out of receiving the boost. 

The legislation authorizes the Baker-Polito administration to implement an increase to unemployment compensation for every recipient in Massachusetts not receiving at least $100 in weekly benefits. This enhancement will be applied retroactively to roughly 17,000 recipients.  

This news announcement was published Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020.