A Complete Guide on Minnesota Unemployment Benefits and How to File for Them

FT Contributor
An unemployed man holding a cardboard sign that reads "job wanted."
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In Minnesota, you can file for unemployment benefits if you lose your job through no fault of your own. If you got laid off as a result of company downsizing or closure, for example, you could apply for unemployment. People who get fired from their job may also ask for unemployment as long as misconduct was not the reason for their termination.

You can file for unemployment and use the benefits to pay your living expenses while you look for another job. The Minnesota Unemployment Insurance site offers information and application materials for people seeking benefits while jobless.

The Minnesota Unemployment Insurance system provides support for unemployed people, but you need to understand how the system works to ensure you get the benefits you need.

Minnesota Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

In Minnesota, you must meet specific eligibility specifications to apply for unemployment benefits. During the application process, you have to provide documentation or information to show that you meet the requirements.

One of the requirements for unemployment benefits is that you’re legally eligible to work in the United States. Here is what you need to consider as you prepare for unemployment.

Past Earnings

Your employment benefits get based on your earnings over the past year from all jobs. Minnesota calculates your gross earnings, including any tips, bonuses, vacation time, sick leave, or other employment-related income.

The base period for these past earnings figures is one year (52 weeks). Though you do need to include gross earnings, you usually do not include profits from self-employment.

You typically get about 50% of your previous weekly pay when you are on employment insurance. The maximum amount available in Minnesota is currently $740 per week.

Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own

To receive unemployment in Minnesota, you need to be jobless through no fault of your own. You could be eligible for unemployment insurance if you got laid off, let go, or —  depending on the circumstances — fired.

If you quit your job, you generally do not qualify for unemployment benefits. However, if you left because of extenuating circumstances, such as to care for an ill family member or to escape domestic violence, you can still apply for benefits.

If your employer fired you because you were unqualified for your position or because another employee outperformed you and took over your role, you could apply for unemployment in Minnesota. However, if you got fired because of misconduct or not following your employer’s policies, you will not qualify for benefits.

In Minnesota, the state will investigate all unemployment applications that do not involve layoffs. They will interview both the applicant and their employer to determine eligibility.  

Totally or Partially Unemployed

You need to be totally or partially unemployed to apply for benefits. If your employer is paying you for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), or unpaid time off, you do not meet eligibility requirements.

If you get furloughed, temporarily laid off, or have your hours reduced below 32 hours per week, you may be eligible for some form of unemployment insurance. The Minnesota Unemployment Insurance office offers guidelines for these partial employment or furlough situations.

You Must Be Able to Work

Finally, you must be actively looking for work when you are collecting unemployment insurance. Minnesota requires you to seek jobs that match your experience and abilities. You may need to show evidence of these job-seeking steps.

Examples of job-search actions could include updating a resume, visiting a career fair or workshop, sending out applications or resumes to potential employers, or attending interviews.

If you are unemployed because your job is seasonal, you will need to seek a different type of position during the off-season. Also, some union members cannot look for outside employment while they are a part of the union. In this case, you do not have to seek employment yourself, but you must be in good standing with the union and on their referral list.  

How to File for Unemployment in Minnesota

You can file your initial application for unemployment online or by phone. To keep their system from being overloaded, the state asks people to apply for benefits on specific days based on the final digit of their Social Security number. The application days are as follows:

Last Digit of SSN Day
0, 1 or 2 Monday
3, 4 or 5 Tuesday
6, 7, 8 or 9 Wednesday
Open to all applicants Thursday and Friday

You need the following information or documentation when applying.

  • A Social Security number;
  • Your state ID or driver’s license number;
  • Contact information, including an address and phone number;
  • Your bank routing and account numbers;
  • Work authorization documents if you are not a U.S. citizen;
  • 18 months of work history. Your work history needs to include dates of employment, name and contact information for the employer, pay rate, and reason for leaving the job.

You might need to provide additional information if you were a union employee, member of the military, or federal employee.

Whether you apply online or by phone, you begin the application process by entering your Social Security number. You then follow the prompts and enter the relevant information. When you complete an online application, the site will prompt you to submit the application. If you apply by phone, you will need to verify information with a live operator before your request is officially submitted.

Appealing a Denial

If the state denies your application, you have a right to a hearing before an unemployment judge. These hearings usually take place over the phone. You may appeal online using the same account that you used to file your initial application. You cannot request an appeal hearing over the phone, but you may apply via mail or fax if you do not wish to use the internet.

When applying via mail or fax, you need to include your name, Social Security number, and the reason for the appeal.

When your application gets denied, the state assigns you an issue identification number. This number identifies why your application got rejected. You include the issue ID number with your appeal request.

When Will I Get Paid?

Your first payment comes during the third week after the state opens your unemployment account. Why do you have to wait until the third week? In Minnesota, you cannot apply for benefits for the current week; you can only apply for the past week.

Minnesota also states that the second week after your account gets opened is a non-payable week. Because of this policy, you need to wait until the third week to get your first unemployment payment.

Claim Your Weeks

Claiming your weeks of unemployment benefits means taking all the necessary steps to keep your unemployment benefits active from week to week.

  • You set up an account online or over the phone that you will use to submit any necessary documentation each week.
  • In Minnesota, you must take steps each week to seek employment. You may need to provide evidence of job applications, job counselor visits, or other job search activities. You may provide documentation of your efforts over the phone, in person, or online.
  • You need to report any earnings from part-time or temporary work. These payments may affect your weekly benefits, but they do not necessarily make you ineligible.
  • You must remain within your commuting area unless you travel outside of the area for a job interview or employment event.
  • Since your account gets updated weekly, you need to deal with any issues quickly to avoid interruptions to your unemployment payments.

Available Unemployment Benefits in Minnesota

Unemployment benefits vary depending on your particular situation.

Benefits Available

You’ll begin receiving unemployment checks during the third week after you start your unemployment account. Payments are usually 50% of what you earned as your base pay during the previous year. If you earn income from a temporary or part-time job, your weekly payment may get reduced by the amount you made.

Benefits Extensions

In Minnesota, you can get unemployment benefits for half of a year (26 weeks). After this period, you need to have a job. However, in some cases, you can continue to get unemployment benefits by applying for an extension.

Reemployment Assistance

Minnesota has a reemployment assistance program. This program is for people who receive unemployment benefits and need additional training to find a new job. They could have lost their job due to outdated skills, outsourcing, automation, or an injury or condition that makes their previous profession impossible but does not keep them from working in another position.

During reemployment assistance programs, you need to meet progress and attendance requirements, but you do not have to seek a job while you are receiving training. As long as you meet the academic and training requirements, you still get your weekly unemployment payments. When you finish the program, you should be ready for a new career.

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