More than 16 million U.S. workers have lost their jobs in the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, forcing many to scramble after losing a job. Here are things you need to know about getting help in Minnesota.
How do I apply for unemployment?
The state of Minnesota’s website for unemployment insurance answers questions about applying, payments, eligibility, and individual accounts. To talk to a representative, call 651-296-3644 in the metro or 1-877-898-9090 in greater Minnesota. (Callers have had difficulty getting through, and hold times can be long).
Because of the volume of applications, the state is asking people to apply for benefits by following the schedule online, based on the last digit in a person’s Social Security Number. You can apply from this link.
Will people whose unemployment recently ran out automatically be eligible for a 13-week extension?
Yes. As of April 15, the 13-week extension is now up and running. We think this will immediately help about 8,000 people who have recently exhausted their benefits or will soon.
Who is eligible for an additional $600 per week from the federal CARES Act?
Anyone who is eligible for the unemployment benefit program will receive the $600 per week authorized by the CARES Act in addition to their regular unemployment benefit. You do not need to do anything to get the additional $600. Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will automatically add it to your payment after you request benefits for the week of March 29th (and every week after that you are eligible). Those who requested benefits for the week of March 29 will start seeing the additional $600 this week.
Self-employed people and independent contractors are eligible under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Information about eligibility can be found here. PUA payments have not begun because the state doesn’t yet have guidance from the federal government yet. If you are a small business owner looking for information on the CARES Act, you can find it here.
State officials say that the U.S. Department of Labor will not allow them to begin paying PUA benefits until they issue additional instructions. Self-employed people and contractors who think they are eligible should apply now. Even if they are denied initially, they will be in the system and be in place for benefits once they get the guidance from the federal government.
When will assistance for the self-employed start going out?
This is a complex and completely new program that the federal government created a few weeks ago and just provided us with final direction last week. We’re working hard to get our system set up so we can pay these people.
We’re encouraging self-employed people or independent contractors to apply now so we can pay them quickly when Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which covers the self-employed and many other categories, is operational.
How long does it take for unemployment applications to process and payments to be made?
Most people who apply for unemployment benefits, submit a payment request and meet all eligibility criteria, are getting payments authorized within one week. In many cases it’s happening quicker than that, according to DEED.
What advice do you have for people whose unemployment has been in a pending status for more than a week?
Anyone waiting for more than a week may have a pending eligibility issue, but DEED will contact you if we need additional information.
With more than double the amount of applications for unemployment this month than in all of 2019, there are some delays. But people will get benefits retroactively.
How much are unemployment payments in Minnesota and how long do they last?
Eligible applicants will receive about 50 percent of their weekly income, up to the state maximum of $740 per week. Benefits are currently available for a maximum of 26 weeks, and DEED is awaiting federal guidance on a 13-week extension that was also included in the CARES Act.
Why are parochial school workers not eligible for unemployment?
By statute, any school run by a church, convention or association of churches is not covered. Religious school workers may qualify under PUA.
What other federal aid can I expect and when?
The $2.2 trillion relief package provides a one-time $1,200 payment to adults making as much as $75,000, and $2,400 payments to married couples making less than a combined $150,000. Parents also get $500 for each dependent child 16 and younger.
Single Americans who make more than $75,000, but less than $99,000 get a smaller check. Couples earning more than $150,000 but less than $198,000 will also get less.
Those who have bank accounts linked to the IRS have already begun getting refunds. For those who don’t, or who file their taxes by mail, you can link your bank information now using this webpage. If you don’t have a bank account and don't link your bank account, relief checks could take several months.
The Internal Revenue Service launched an online tool so that Americans can track the status of their coronavirus stimulus payments. You can access the "Get My Payment" tool online.
Be aware of scams. The IRS is not going to call or e-mail you asking for your financial institution information so that a refund can be processed quicker.
Is an adult with disabilities who is employed through a vocational program and receives a 1099 form instead of a W2 eligible for benefits?
Most workshop-type programs are not covered by unemployment. But it’s possible that a person who didn’t qualify for unemployment might be covered by the PUA.
That person or his or her guardian should apply for that new federal program that also covers self-employed workers.
Despite a huge number of layoffs and furloughs, a wide variety of positions are needed including nurses, nursing assistants, personal care aides, customer service representatives, and security guards, according to DEED.
Some companies that are hiring include: Allina, Amazon, Fairview, Walgreens, CVS, Wells Fargo, Ranstad, Thomas Allen, Cub, Hy-Vee, Home Depot, Hormel, Instacart and the U.S. Postal Service.
What about getting money by taking a hardship withdrawal from my 401(k)?
You can withdraw up to $100,000 from the retirement account without a 10 percent penalty if you are under age 59½. The penalty has been temporarily waived under the Cares Act but you will still owe ordinary income taxes on the amount withdrawn.