With the IMF warning that the COVID-19 crisis will result in the ‘worst economic fallout since the Great Depression, now’s not a great time to suddenly find yourself out a job. And yet that’s exactly what millions of Americans have experienced, with a record 1 in 10 now claiming unemployment benefits. In Minnesota, the bleak story continues, with close to a quarter of a million people filing for unemployment since March 16th alone. Just to put that in perspective, that’s more than the total number of applicants for all of last year. With the system struggling to cope with demand, the government has passed a new series of measures designed to help those worst hit. Introduced on March 27, the CARES act expands the current unemployment benefits package to accommodate those who might not normally qualify (essentially by removing the demand that applicants be both able and available to work), as well as extending the claimable period by up to 13 weeks and adding a supplementary $600 per week, across the board payment on top of what the state of Minnesota allows.
Who’s Eligible to Claim Unemployment in Minnesota?
Under the new guidelines, you may be eligible to claim unemployment benefits in Minnesota if you fall into any of the below categories.
- You are sick with COVID-19 or in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 (a medical certificate verifying your exposure may be requested).
- You are a caregiver to a family member with COVID-19 or who is in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.
- You have been furloughed without pay because of COVID-19.
- You are working reduced hours because of COVID-19.
- You have been affected by school closures.
- You are unable to travel to work because of public transportation shutdowns.
- You, or your employer, feel it is unsafe to continue working because of COVID-19.
- You are self-employed, a contractor, or a gig worker who cannot work because of COVID-19.
As noted by Motley Fool, your previous income must meet certain minimum standards for you to qualify for unemployment, regardless of your reason for being out of work.
In Minnesota, your earnings are looked at over a base period determined by the date you log your claim. You will need to have earned at least $3000 during your base period to qualify for unemployment.
- For claims filed between April and June 2020, the base period will be January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019.
- For claims filed between July and September 2020, the base period will be April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020.
- For claims filed between October and December 2020, the base period will be July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.
How Do I Apply for Unemployment in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, workers can choose to file their claim in one of two ways.
- By Phone. Applicants in the Twin Cities should call 651-296-3644. Applicants outside of the metro should call 1-877-898-9090. The hearing impaired can call 1-866-814-1252.
- Online. Create an account at Minnesota Unemployment Insurance (https://www1.uimn.org/ui_applicant/applicant/login.do).
As you’d expect, phone lines are being slammed at the moment; to avoid call wait times of at least an hour, the department recommends all new applicants file their claim online if at all possible.
To cope with demand, a schedule for filing claims based on the last four digits of each applicant’s Social Security number has been introduced. If your SNN ends in 0, 1, or 2, you will need to file your claim on Monday between 6 A.M. and 8 P.M. If it ends in 3, 4, or 5, file on Tuesday between 6 A.M. and 8 P.M. Applicants with an SSN ending 6,7, 8, or 9 should file on Wednesday between 6 A.M. and 8 P.M, while those who missed their designated day should file on Thursday or Friday between 6 A.M. and 8 P.M.
To apply, you’ll need to provide:
- Social Security number.
- Driver’s license number or other state government identification number.
- Your mailing address, email address, and contact telephone number.
- Your employment history for the past 18 months, to include the name, address, and contact number of each employer, your pay rate, the first and last working days, and your reason for leaving.
- Your bank information, if you choose to have your benefits paid by direct deposit.
If you are a non-US citizen, a union member, a federal worker or have served in the military in the last 18 months, additional documents may be requested. After you’ve applied, you’ll need to verify your claim weekly for each week that you are unemployed. To avoid any interruption in payment, it’s vital you do this starting the very first week after your file your initial claim, regardless of whether a decision on your eligibility is still pending.
How Much Will I Be Paid?
If you pass the eligibility checks, your state benefit will equate to around 50% of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $740. Under the provisions of the CARES act, you’ll also be entitled to a supplementary payment of $600 on top of what the state allows until the end of July.
How Will I Be Paid?
If your claim’s successful, you can choose to have your benefits paid either by direct deposit or by U.S. Bank ReliaCard Visa (unemployment debit card). If you want to change your payment method at any time, you can do so either by logging into your account or by calling customer service.
My Claim’s Been Denied. Can I Appeal?
After you’ve filed your initial claim, the unemployment department will issue a determination letter within 21 days. If your application is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision (details of how to do this will be included in the letter) by the deadline stated in the determination. During the appeals period, it’s vital you continue to verify your claims weekly to avoid any subsequent issues with payments if your appeal is upheld.