If you find yourself out of a job through no fault of your own in Massachusetts, you may qualify for unemployment compensation. As in other states, it's wise to apply as soon as possible because benefits start from your application date, not the last day you worked. It usually takes about three weeks in Massachusetts for your benefits to start. However, you must claim your benefits each week, starting from the week you apply. If you miss a week, your benefits will stop and you will have to get your compensation reactivated. Like most states, Massachusetts has its own formula and rules for calculating the amoun t of unemployment compensation you are entitled to receive.

#### Step

Add up your earnings for each of the last four calendar quarters. You'll find this information on your pay stubs, usually listed as your total pay or total wages. For example, if you were paid weekly, add the total pay for each of the 13 weeks in the first quarter together. Repeat this step for each of the other three quarters.

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Add your earnings together for the two quarters in which you made the most money. Divide by 26 to figure your average weekly earnings. If you worked only one or two quarters, use only the quarter with the higher earnings and divide by 13 to find your average weekly earnings.

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Divide your average weekly earnings in half to determine your Benefit Rate. The Benefit Rate is the amount you receive in unemployment compensation each week. Suppose the two highest earnings per quarter total $6,500 and $5,000, which added together equal $11,500. Divided by 26, this is $442. Your Benefit Rate is one half this amount, or $221.

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Compute your Benefit Credit. This is the total amount of unemployment compensation you can receive in the upcoming year (called the benefit year). Your Benefit Credit is the lesser of two amounts. Calculate the first amount by multiplying your Benefit Amount by 30, which gives you $6,630 (continuing the example from Step 3). To obtain the second amount, multiply your total wages for the entire base period by 36 percent. Suppose you earned $16,500 during all four quarters of the base period. Multiply $16,200 by 36 percent, which equals $5,940. Since $5,940 is less than $6,631, your Benefit Credit is $5,940.

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Calculate how many weeks of unemployment benefits you can receive. Divide your Benefit Credit by your Benefit Rate to figure the duration of your benefits. Suppose you have a Benefit Credit of $5,940 and a Benefit rate of $221 per week. Divide $5,940 by $221. In this example you can receive benefits for up to 27 weeks.