covid-19-state-federal-updates-2

Updated August 13, 2021

For up-to-the-minute information on COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website by clicking the button below.

For up-to-the-minute information on COVID-19 in Massachusetts, please visit the MA Department of Public Health (DPH) website by clicking the button below.

If you have any questions about the below information,

please contact our office using this online contact form or by calling (413) 367-4656 or (617) 722-1532.

Unemployment

Update: All jobseekers, from entry level to executive, are invited to a free, five-day virtual event consisting of two general job fairs and three industry-specific job fairs. The Massachusetts Virtual Job Fair will be Monday, August 16 through Friday, August 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. each day. For more information, click here.

Important reminder: Federal unemployment benefits, including FPUC, PUA, PEUC, and MEUC, end the week ending September 4, 2021. No weeks after that will be paid even if a claimant has a balance or remaining weeks to claim. It is critical that claimants begin looking for work now.

DUA Call Center (call for assistance with UI or PUA, but listen to prompts so you are directed to the correct place) – (877) 626-6800
Open 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday, 8 a.m–12 p.m. Saturday. Multilingual call agents are available.

TeleCert Line (Automated system is operational, please do not transfer to an agent within the system) – (617) 626-6338
To request weekly benefits, daily 6 a.m.–10 p.m.

Hearing Impaired Voice Relay – 711

Payment Status Line (Automated system is operational, please do not transfer to an agent within the system) – (617) 626-6563

Helpful link:

Unemployment Insurance (UI)

If you’ve lost your job, you may qualify for temporary income to support you. You should apply for unemployment benefits during your first week of total or partial unemployment. Most claims are processed within 21-28 days after filing. It may take longer if there is an issue with your claim.

Unemployment eligibility and determinations are done on a very case-by-case basis. This informational page can help you understand if you’re eligible for UI and this informational page is also helpful in understanding how benefits are determined.

If you are experiencing issues with your account or claim, please contact our office. For expedited service, please be sure to complete the information requested in the Unemployment section.

Important reminder: Federal unemployment benefits, including FPUC, PUA, PEUC, and MEUC, end the week ending September 4, 2021. No weeks after that will be paid even if a claimant has a balance or remaining weeks to claim. It is critical that claimants begin looking for work now.

Helpful links:

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Identity Verification

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has implemented new security measures to speed up identity verification and to protect claimant accounts. DUA has contracted with the security vendor ID.me, a federally-certified identity verification provider that specializes in digital identity protection. ID.me identity verification is for UI claims only and does not apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims.

For all claimants clearing the ID.me process, a Notice of Approval will be issued from UI Online, and if otherwise eligible, payments to the claimant will commence within several days.

Please see the below links for instructions, tips, and troubleshooting on how to verify your identity with ID.me.

Helpful links:

CARES Act extension and changes to unemployment benefit programs

The American Recovery Plan Act of 2021, which extends benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), was signed into law on March 11, 2021. Updated information on regarding the new law and Massachusetts unemployment is available on the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance’s (DUA) website, which is updated frequently.

Important reminder: Federal unemployment benefits, including FPUC, PUA, PEUC, and MEUC, end the week ending September 4, 2021. No weeks after that will be paid even if a claimant has a balance or remaining weeks to claim. It is critical that claimants begin looking for work now.

Helpful link:

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

FPUC  provides an additional $300 weekly benefit to eligible claimants. A claimant must be eligible through a separate unemployment program (e.g., UI, PUA, PEUC, EB) to receive FPUC. FPUC will be available to cover weeks of unemployment between the week ending January 2, 2021, and the week ending September 4, 2021.

Important reminder: Federal unemployment benefits, including FPUC, PUA, PEUC, and MEUC, end the week ending September 4, 2021. No weeks after that will be paid even if a claimant has a balance or remaining weeks to claim. It is critical that claimants begin looking for work now.

Helpful link:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA provides up to 79 weeks of unemployment benefits if you are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. Weekly certification is required. PUA will be available until the week ending September 4, 2021.

If you are experiencing issues with your account or claim, please contact our office. For expedited service, please be sure to complete the information requested in the Unemployment section.

Important reminder: Federal unemployment benefits, including FPUC, PUA, PEUC, and MEUC, end the week ending September 4, 2021. No weeks after that will be paid even if a claimant has a balance or remaining weeks to claim. It is critical that claimants begin looking for work now.

Employment Substantiation

Any individual receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits after December 27, 2020 is required to provide documentation proving employment (not covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI)) or self-employment, or the planned beginning of employment or self-employment to demonstrate a recent attachment to the labor force. This is known as substantiation of employment/employment substantiation.

PUA claimants filing a new claim after January 31, 2021 will be required to provide documentation of employment, self-employment, or a qualifying job offer within 21 days of filing. Claimants with established claims receiving payments in 2021 will have 90 days to provide such documentation. Documentation of employment must be provided for the claimant’s base period, which is the tax year prior to initial application for unemployment benefits.

To respond to employment substantiation fact finding, log in to your PUA account, select the “Respond to Fact Finding” link in the “We Need Information From You” section. You can also view the “Action Center” tab and click the “Click here to answer Fact Finding Questionnaire” in the “We Need Information From You” section.

PUA benefits will stop if a claimant is currently claiming benefits and they do not respond. Even if a claimant has stopped claiming benefits, they must respond to this request for information as it may involve benefits they have already received.

More information about PUA employment substantiation, including what documents you can use, is here.

Helpful links:

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) 1.1

The extended PEUC program (PEUC 1.1) provides up to 53 weeks of benefits. The PEUC program will conclude the week ending September 4, 2021.

Important reminder: Federal unemployment benefits, including FPUC, PUA, PEUC, and MEUC, end the week ending September 4, 2021. No weeks after that will be paid even if a claimant has a balance or remaining weeks to claim. It is critical that claimants begin looking for work now.

Helpful links:

Unemployment Extended Benefits (EB)

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ unemployment rate has triggered federal Extended Benefits (EB). EB is available for certain eligible regular unemployment insurance (UI) claimants for up to 13 weeks.

Eligible UI claimants will be presented with an application for EB through their UI Online account.

To be eligible for EB, UI claimants must have:

  • Exhausted all rights to regular UI (Unemployment Insurance) under Massachusetts law
  • No rights to regular UI with respect to any UI law of another state or Canada
  • Exhausted Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Wages in the base period (with respect to the regular UI claim that was exhausted) that includes 1 of the following:
    • 20 weeks of full-time covered employment,
    • Wages higher than 40 times your most recent weekly benefit amount, or
    • Total wages in the base period equal to or greater than 1.5 times the highest quarter
  • No disqualifications that would prevent you from being eligible for EB and
  • Regular UI benefit year ended on or after May 9, 2020

If a claimant exhausts their weeks of EB, they may be eligible for additional weeks of PEUC 1.1 or for a new benefit year depending on which program has a benefit rate that is higher. Claimants who exhaust EB and are still unemployed should continue certifying for benefits and will automatically transition on to PEUC 1.1.

More information here.

Helpful links:

Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)

The Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program was created as part of the Continued Assistance Act to assist workers who qualified for traditional unemployment, but also had income from self-employment or gig work that is not included in the calculation of their regular unemployment benefits. MEUC applies only to traditional unemployment claimants. Claimants who receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are ineligible for MEUC.

MEUC provides an additional $100 weekly benefit to eligible claimants. Payments will not begin until DUA reviews the applicant’s supporting documentation, and will be retroactive. Applicants who are determined eligible for the MEUC program and are paid at least $1 of their underlying unemployment benefit amount for any week of unemployment, will also receive a $100 supplemental MEUC payment. This is provided in addition to the $300 FPUC payment.

To see eligibility requirements, documentation needed to prove eligibility, and information on how to apply, please click here.

Important reminder: Federal unemployment benefits, including FPUC, PUA, PEUC, and MEUC, end the week ending September 4, 2021. No weeks after that will be paid even if a claimant has a balance or remaining weeks to claim. It is critical that claimants begin looking for work now.

Helpful links:

Unemployment Benefits as Taxable Income & 1099-G

Unemployment benefits are counted as taxable income. You can withhold taxes from your weekly benefit payments. The most streamlined way to do this is to complete the tax withholding section when you first apply for benefits. If you don’t elect to have taxes withheld from your weekly benefits, you will be responsible for paying federal and state taxes directly.

Unemployment tax relief

On April 1, 2021, Governor Baker signed legislation which allows taxpayers with household income up to 200% of the federal poverty level to deduct up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation from taxable income on their Massachusetts tax return. The deduction may be claimed by each eligible individual for tax years 2020 and 2021.  Federal law allows a deduction of up to $10,200 if your federal adjusted gross income is less than $150,000.  Since the Massachusetts income threshold is different from the federal income threshold, you may be eligible for a deduction on your federal tax return, but not on your Massachusetts tax return.

If you have already filed your 2020 Massachusetts income tax return and you believe you are eligible for this deduction, there is no need to file an amended return. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) will recalculate all tax returns that included unemployment income and will adjust your return if you are eligible. If your return is adjusted, your reported tax for 2020 will be reduced and you may be entitled to a refund.  If you have no outstanding liabilities, DOR will mail the refund directly to you. DOR expects to begin issuing these refunds in mid-May and will provide updates about when you can expect to receive them in the FAQs on their website.

If you have not filed your 2020 Massachusetts income tax return yet, you should report the full amount of your unemployment income on your Massachusetts return using line 8a on resident tax returns (Form 1) or line 10a on nonresident/part-year resident tax returns (Form NR/PY).   If you are eligible for a deduction, you should report the amount of the allowable deduction on Schedule Y, line 9.

You can find more information about the new deduction in the FAQs on DOR’s website.  If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact DOR at (617) 887-6367 or online through your MassTaxConnect account.

1099-G

The 1099-G is an IRS form that shows the total unemployment benefits you received and any taxes withheld during the previous calendar year. You will need this information when you file your tax return.

1099-G for UI Claimants

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) should mail you a copy of your 1099-G by January 31 of the year after you collected benefits. You can also view & print your 1099-G online by doing the following:

  1. Log in to your UI Online account
  2. Click on View and request 1099-G on the left navigation bar
  3. Click on the down arrow to select the right year. You can view 1099-G forms for the past 6 years.
  4. Click on View 1099-G and print the page

If you have not received your 1099-G and cannot view it online by following the above steps, please contact our office by completing & submitting this form.

1099-G for PUA Claimants

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) should mail you a copy of your 1099-G by January 31 of the year after you collected benefits.

If you didn’t receive your 1099-G or need a reprint, claimants who received only PUA benefits in 2020 can call (617) 626-5647 to request another copy by mail. You can also contact our office by completing & submitting this form.

1099-G for Fraudulent Claim

If you have received a Form 1099-G related to a fraudulent claim, please use DUA’s secure fraud reporting form to alert DUA of the fraud. It may take up to four weeks for DUA to review the report and send a corrected Form 1099-G via US mail. In addition, the claim will not impact your ability to collect unemployment should you need to in the future and no charges will be assessed to your employer (if applicable).

Helpful links:

Working Part-Time While Receiving Unemployment Benefits

If you work part-time while collecting unemployment benefits, either through traditional state unemployment insurance (UI) or federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), you may still qualify for unemployment benefits. The weekly benefit amount you receive may be adjusted based on how much you earn from your part-time job.

If you work part-time hours during weeks in which you request unemployment benefits, you may still be paid benefits if your gross wages (total wages before taxes are deducted) are less than your weekly benefit amount. Any earnings greater than 1/3 of your weekly benefit amount (known as your earnings disregard) will be deducted dollar-for-dollar from your weekly benefit payment.

You must report any changes in your unemployment status while you are receiving benefits. It is your responsibility to report all your earnings when requesting weekly benefits if you get a part-time job.

If you work full-time hours in any given week, you will be considered employed “full-time” regardless of wages, and you will not be eligible for benefits for that week. Full-time is generally between 35 and 40 hours per week. You are considered employed full-time if you are working the customary full-time schedule in your job or occupation.

Helpful links:

Report Unemployment Benefits Fraud

Criminal enterprises using stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches have been attempting to file fraudulent unemployment claims through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) system. This is part of a national unemployment fraud scheme.

If you believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your personal information, please use DUA’s secure fraud reporting form to alert DUA of the fraud.

If you have received a Form 1099-G related to a fraudulent claim, please use DUA’s secure fraud reporting form to alert DUA of the fraud. It may take up to four weeks for DUA to review the report and send a corrected Form 1099-G via US mail. In addition, the claim will not impact your ability to collect unemployment should you need to in the future and no charges will be assessed to your employer (if applicable).

If you believe your identity has been stolen and you are a victim of fraud, you can protect yourself by reporting identity theft to law enforcement, creditors, credit agencies, and government agencies.

If you are an employer who wishes to report fraud, please email UIFraud@detma.org.

Helpful links:

Unemployment for Employers

DUA extended the Q1 and Q2 2021 contribution and deferral deadline to August 31, 2021. Q2 Quarterly Employment and Wage Detail filings will remain due by August 2, 2021.

Per DUA’s communication to employers on June 1, 2021, DUA is recalculating and issuing new 2021 UI Rates to employers by late July. Until employers receive their recalculated 2021 UI Rate in late July, employers and TPAs are advised to use their 2020 UI Rates, retroactive to the beginning of the year.

As part of the Commonwealth’s plan to recover the cost of benefits paid by the UI Trust Fund in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 crisis and more manageably spread these costs over time, employers’ recalculated 2021 UI Rate notices will include a quarterly COVID-19 recovery assessment, retroactive to January 1, 2021, for all experience-rated employers. The quarterly COVID-19 recovery assessment will be a fixed percentage of quarterly taxable wages and will be available on the Employer Account Profile Screen in UI Online when the recalculated 2021 UI Rate notices are issued in late July. The COVID-19 recovery assessment will be part of the third party administrator (TPA) rate download file at the same time.

In May 2021, DUA announced that work search requirements will be reinstated for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants effective the week of June 15, 2021. Claimants must attest each week that they are making at least three work search activities per week and provide proof of work search activity to DUA upon request.

Refusing work because a UI claimant would rather collect more money in unemployment benefits is not reasonable in any circumstances and is considered fraud. Employers may report any furloughed employees who refuse to come back to work by emailing UIReturntowork@detma.org.

Most claimants will be entitled to continue to receive partial or reduced UI benefits—and the full amount of the special COVID-related $300 weekly stipend offered—even as they return to employment. Claimants who report wages from new employment will have their regular UI weekly benefit proportionately reduced to offset new wages, but in most circumstances claimants will remain eligible for the $300 weekly stipend until their regular wages exceed 133% of their regular weekly benefit amount.

Employers are encouraged to utilize the following resources:

WorkShare: If an employer furloughed workers during the pandemic and wants to call them back, the employer may want to consider using the Commonwealth’s WorkShare program. WorkShare helps employers bring employees back part-time while allowing them to maintain the additional $300 a week in federal UI benefits as well as continuing to subsidize a portion of their wages. For more information on WorkShare, go to https://www.mass.gov/workshare-for-employers or call (617) 626-6877.

Virtual Career Fairs: Employers may also contact their local MassHire Career Center to set up a free virtual recruitment event to assist with reaching out to unemployed individuals in their area.

Helpful links:

WorkShare

WorkShare is a program that offers a smart alternative to layoffs. Employees work reduced hours while collecting unemployment benefits to supplement their lower wages.

Because many businesses are reducing hours for employees without laying them off, they can find it useful to use the WorkShare program.

  • Employers must enter agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) about employees that will be covered
  • Eligibility is based upon unemployment eligibility
  • Benefit to employee is based upon hours that are being reduced as a share of full-time work – that reduction in hours % is multiplied by the UI benefit the worker would receive if they were fully unemployed
  • Current benefit rate of UI is maximum of ½ of income or up to $823/week
  • WorkShare participants must plan for at least 10% reduction in hours and no more than 60% reduction in hours

Helpful links:

Rapid Response – Layoff Aversion

Rapid Response tries to identify the exact needs of a company in crisis. Once the needs are assessed then the team tries to help the company establish partnerships with other organizations and build networks to help them try and acquire those needs meant to reduce the possibility of layoffs or a plant closure.

Some of the resources available to companies to maintain their workforce include:

  • Matching businesses that are in transition with businesses that are hiring for similar
  • Communicating directly with employers on their needs and what is necessary to avoid layoffs
  • Educate employers on various state and local programs and agencies including:
    • WorkShare Program
    • Workforce Training Funds
    • Career Centers
    • Tax Incentives
    • Business Loans
    • Growth based systems for manufacturing
    • Employee Ownership and succession plans
    • Export opportunity identification
    • SBA information

For more information, contact Rapid Response.

Helpful link:

Vaccine

All people age 12 and older who live, work, or study in Massachusetts are eligible to get vaccinated. More information about COVID-19 vaccinations for people under age 18 is here.

Individuals can book an appointment online, by calling 2-1-1, or by calling individual vaccination sites where phone options are available.

While there is one website Massachusetts residents can use to find public-facing vaccine locations in the state (vaxfinder.mass.gov), you may still need to click through multiple web pages to find more information about each site and to book an appointment.

Many locations are also offering walk-in appointments.

The Commonwealth now has the COVID-19 Employer Vaccination Program which offers Massachusetts employers two options to vaccinate their employees:

  1. Group appointments at mass vaccinations locations, or
  2. Mobile on-site employer vaccination clinic

More information on these two options, including how employers can sign up, is here.

How to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Find a vaccination location and schedule your appointment, or find a location accepting walk-ins:

Click here to find public-facing vaccination locations and availability information
Click here to view a map of public-facing vaccination locations in the state
Click here to view information about vaccination locations in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district and surrounding region that our office has compiled (last updated on Friday, April 30, 2021)
•Vaccines may also be available from non-public-facing locations, like a primary care provider

Individuals without internet access or who have difficulty navigating the internet have phone options available; click here for more information.

Prepare for your appointment – Information on how to prepare for your vaccine appointment is here.

More information on scheduling a second dose appointment (necessary for Moderna & Pfizer vaccines) is here.

Important Vaccine Information

•The vaccine is free. You will never be asked for a credit card number to make an appointment.
Mass vaccination site are accessible
•The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. You should make sure you have a second appointment scheduled from the same site, or know how to schedule it, before leaving your first appointment. Johnson & Johnson/Janssen only requires one dose.
•You can get a vaccine even if you do not have insurance, a driver’s license, or a Social Security number.

Helpful links:

Telephone Options for COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Scheduling

Many vaccination locations have telephone numbers specific to their location which you can find on the Vaccination Location Finder and Map of COVID-19 Public Vaccination Locations.

Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line

Massachusetts has launched a Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line to assist individuals without access to the internet or who are unable to schedule their appointment online. 

Call 2-1-1  or (877) 211-6277
and follow prompts to reach the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line

The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and will have translators available to support residents in approximately 100 additional languages. Individuals will be able to speak to a representative live on the phone to assist them with an appointment through the state’s online system. These representatives have the same access to appointments as on the public website; it will not give individuals access to additional appointments. 

The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is only able to support individuals with scheduling an appointment and representatives are not able to answer general questions about COVID-19 or provide individual health care advice.

LifePath

LifePath, who serves Franklin County and the North Quabbin, is assisting vaccine-eligible older people and people with disabilities who do not have access to the internet, need assistance with scheduling an appointment, need transportation to a vaccination location, or are unable to leave their home.

LifePath’s Vaccine Access Hotline: (413) 829-9285, ext. 2375

After listening to the complete message, eligible individuals may leave a message that should include all of the following:

  • Name
  • Town of residence
  • Phone number
  • Age
  • An explanation of need

WestMass ElderCare

WestMass ElderCare’s main service area includes South Hadley, Holyoke, Chicopee, Granby, Ludlow, Belchertown, and Ware. Staff in WestMass ElderCare’s Information and Referral Department are available to assist vaccine-eligible community members navigate the vaccine sign-up process.

WestMass ElderCare: (413) 538-9020

Transportation to COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

LifePath

LifePath, who serves Franklin County and the North Quabbin, is assisting vaccine-eligible older people and people with disabilities who do not have access to the internet, need assistance with scheduling an appointment, need transportation to a vaccination location, or are unable to leave their home.

LifePath’s Vaccine Access Hotline: (413) 829-9285, ext. 2375

After listening to the complete message, eligible individuals may leave a message that should include all of the following:

  • Name
  • Town of residence
  • Phone number
  • Age
  • An explanation of need

Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA)

Franklin County residents ages 60 and older and those who cannot get to a vaccination site on their own can use the FRTA Access program, the transit authority’s micro-transit, curb-to-curb service, by calling (413) 773-8090. Trips to and from vaccine clinics are free.

Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA)

PVTA has compiled a list of COVID-19 vaccination sites in their service area and which bus routes service them, which can be found here.

MassHealth

MassHealth has made changes to its non-emergency transportation policy to expand eligibility and simplify processes for transportation to and from COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

MassHealth is providing free transportation to vaccine appointments to any individual that has any type of MassHealth coverage or the Health Safety Net. This includes people with MassHealth Limited, Children’s Medical Security Program (CMSP) and MassHealth Family Assistance (FA). In addition, members can request transportation services directly through MassHealth’s Customer Service, rather than needing to request services through a health care provider.

If an individual has MassHealth or the Health Safety Net, they (or a caregiver) can call their health plan or MassHealth directly to schedule free transportation.

MassHealth & Health Safety Net COVID-19 vaccine transportation scheduling phone number:
800-841-2900 (TTY: 800-497-4648)

However, MassHealth members who are enrolled in a Senior Care Options or One Care plan or in a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) should continue to contact their health plan or PACE provider to request help with transportation.

More information is here and here.

Helpful links:

Homebound Vaccination Programs

There are regional and statewide programs to offer in-home vaccinations for homebound individuals who cannot leave their home to get to a vaccination site. In-home vaccinations are for homebound individuals who are not able to leave their home to get to a vaccination site, even with assistance.

Franklin County

Residents of the 15 Franklin Regional Council of Governments Cooperative Public Health Service (FRCOG CPHS) Member Towns may call Lisa White at (413) 665-1400 ext. 114. The 15 Member Towns include Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Colrain, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Heath, Hawley, Leyden, Monroe, Northfield, Rowe, and Shelburne.

Montague residents may call the Montague Board of Health at (413) 863-3200, ext. 205.

Orange, New Salem, and Wendell residents call the Orange Board of Health at (978) 544-1107.

Hampshire County

Hampshire County residents who live in Amherst/Pelham, Belchertown, Chesterfield, Cummington, Easthampton, Goshen, Granby, Hadley, Hatfield, Huntington, Middlefield, Northampton, Plainfield, South Hadley, Southampton, Sunderland, Ware, Westhampton, Williamsburg, Worthington) can get more information by clicking here.

Amherst & Pelham residents may also call (413) 259-3060.

Statewide

Folks who reside in cities/towns not listed above may utilize the statewide program. More information is here.

Any individual who has trouble getting to a vaccine site is eligible for the homebound program.

Homebound Vaccination Program Central Intake Line: (833) 983-0485

The registration phone line is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and has representatives who speak English and Spanish, as well as translation services available in 100+ languages. After registering, individuals will be called within five business days by the state’s Homebound Vaccine Provider, Commonwealth Care Alliance, to schedule an appointment.

Helpful links:

Personal Health & Safety

Please visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 page for the latest information.

Testing

Helpful links:

Domestic Safety

If you or someone you know does not feel safe at home, please call 1-800-799-7233 for live support. If you are unable to speak safely, you can chat online at thehotline.org, or text LOVEIS to 22522.

Helpful links:

Emotional Health & Well-Being

Taking care of your emotional health and well-being during this time is important. Decreasing stress can help bolster your immune system and can help keep you and others around you healthy. Click here for a list of resources and tips for staying emotionally healthy and well.

Contact your behavioral health provider to see if they can schedule a telehealth visit. Telehealth is a virtual therapy session. Many providers are now offering this option.

Below are additional resources.

Helpful links:

Addiction & Recovery Resources

This is an unsettling time for those working to address opioid and substance misuse and for those in treatment or recovery from substance and opioid use disorders. The Opioid Task Force put together an array of resources to help.

Helpful links:

Health Insurance

For help with health insurance enrollment, call Health Care For All’s free and multilingual Health Coverage HelpLine at 1-800-272-4232 or visit the Health Coverage HelpLine website. The HelpLine provides assistance in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

MassHealth

MassHealth is the state’s Medicaid program and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and provides comprehensive health coverage for low-income people and eligible seniors and people with disabilities. Most people have no premiums and no copays. Due to COVID-19, you can now apply for insurance at any time. Enrollment information is available online or by calling MassHealth’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-841-2900 (TTY: 1-800-497-4648).

Helpful links:

Health Connector

The Health Connector is the state’s marketplace for reduced-cost coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It is also the easiest place to shop for and enroll in regular individual and family insurance plans. If you need health insurance or have experienced a job change and no longer have health insurance through work, apply through the Massachusetts Health Connector.

If you already have health insurance coverage through the Health Connector, make sure to return to your application to update all changes in circumstances to ensure that you are receiving the most appropriate benefits. Even if you have not received financial assistance in the past, you may be newly eligible for subsidies that could lower your monthly health insurance premium.

If you’re an employer, Health Connector for Business is a one-stop shopping solution for small businesses looking for affordable, high-quality health and dental insurance. Through the Health Connector, employers can compare plans from leading insurance carriers side by side. More information is here.

Health Connector Update on American Rescue Plan (ARP) & Unemployment Benefits

ARP was signed into law in March 2021. Among its many provisions, the ARP grants access to a zero-dollar health plan for any person who received unemployment benefits during 2021.   

With the Health Connector’s implementation of this provision, individuals currently receiving unemployment benefits may now qualify for a no- or low-monthly cost ConnectorCare health insurance plan from the Health Connector—even if you wouldn’t otherwise qualify based on their household income.  

Important information about the unemployment benefits provision and Health Connector implementation is in this FAQ.

If you have not applied to the Health Connector before, you’ll need to fill out an application. If you’ve applied in the past, you will need to sign into your account and review and update your information. You should make sure to include information about your current unemployment income so Health Connector can check if you qualify for the new benefit.  

If you reported unemployment income earlier this year, Health Connector will automatically update your program eligibility based on this information, even if you are no longer collecting. If you did not report unemployment income at the time when you had it, Health Connector’s system won’t be able to process information about earlier unemployment income at this time however, they are working on adding this feature and expect that by August 2021, individuals will be able to report unemployment income from earlier in the year and enroll in a ConnectorCare plan going forward, if you qualify.  

In the meantime, individuals may still be able to enroll in an affordable health plan through the Health Connector. If Health Connector finds that you qualify for ConnectorCare later on based on earlier 2021 unemployment benefits, you may be able to get a tax credit at the end of the year for the earlier months when you weren’t able to access the benefit. Individuals’ tax credit will be equal to the amount of money that would have been applied to your monthly premium during the year if you had been able to receive the benefit earlier. However, the tax credit will only be based on months that you were enrolled through the Health Connector. 

Helpful links:

Group Insurance Commission (GIC)

The GIC provides and administers health insurance and other benefits to the Commonwealth’s employees and retirees, their dependents and survivors. The GIC also covers housing and redevelopment authority personnel, participating municipalities, as well as retired municipal employees and teachers in certain governmental units.

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Food Security

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, more people in Massachusetts are experiencing food insecurity. If you are experiencing food insecurity, there are resources available. Please visit the links below and/or contact our office for help with accessing these resources.

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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Massachusetts 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 non-financial criteria.

If you qualify for and/or receive SNAP benefits, you may also qualify for P-EBT. See information on P-EBT below.

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Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) Nutrition Program

WIC is a nutrition program that provides healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and other services, free of charge, to Massachusetts families who qualify. WIC’s goal is to maintain the health of and help children under 5 and those who are pregnant, just had a baby, or are breastfeeding.

WIC is available to all families regardless of immigration or citizenship status. Individuals receiving SNAP and many types of MassHealth are automatically income-eligible for WIC. Parents, grandparents and foster parents may apply for children under the age of five years who are in their care.

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Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)

P-EBT, a federal program operated in Massachusetts by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), provides food support to help families with children buy healthy food during the pandemic. The P-EBT program has changed throughout the pandemic and Project Bread has continued to provide updates and clarification throughout the changes. More information is here and here.

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Nutrition Program for Seniors

Nutrition services available for Massachusetts seniors include nourishing meals, screening, education, and counseling, to help older people have healthy nutrition status. Meals are at congregate meal sites and through home-delivered meals to people 60+.

Meals on Wheels is run by senior nutrition agencies located throughout Massachusetts. To find the closest agency to you, call 1-800-243-4636.

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Housing

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RAFT & ERMA

The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) programs may provide income-eligible households with up to $10,000 to pay overdue or future rent or mortgage costs. Both RAFT and ERMA are administered at the local level by Regional Administering Agencies (RAA), and you can apply to both programs through your RAA.

Contacting your RAA is the first step to accessing both RAFT and ERMA. 

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Multilingual COVID-19 Resources

Mass.gov web pages can be translated into the following languages by clicking the “Select Language” dropdown menu at the top of any Mass.gov page:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • French
  • Haitian Creole
  • Italian
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

Contra COVID

Contra COVID provides information, news, health and social resources in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole to help Latino and immigrant families with important resources that they might need during these difficult times. Visit Contra COVID’s website at contracovid.com.

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Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition

MIRA has created a continuously-updated page on their website on COVID-19 resources that are available to immigrant constituents, as well as an accessible Spanish-language guide (other languages in process) that may help constituents whose first language is Spanish.

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Department of Public Health (DPH) COVID-19 Prevention Multilingual Printable Factsheets

The Massachusetts DPH has created printable fact sheets on COVID-19 prevention in English, Spanish, Chinese, Portugese, Hatian Creole, Vietnamese, which can be downloaded here.

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413 Cares

413 Cares connects people with resources in western Massachusetts. Fine more here.

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