The latest on Unemployment Insurance

April 8 message from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED):

Getting Minnesotans the benefits they deserve as quickly as possible: The latest on Unemployment Insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned people’s lives upside down – and at DEED, we’re focused every day on helping Minnesotans navigate this unprecedented and challenging time, and finding ways to get people the benefits they need as soon as possible.

I know that many of you are wondering about the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law in late March. Here’s what you should know:

  • Today, we’re excited to announce that DEED authorized the first payments of the temporary additional compensation of $600/week for people receiving unemployment benefits. You don’t need to contact us or do anything additional; if you receive unemployment you will also automatically receive an additional $600 for every week you remain eligible.
    • The first week for which you can get the additional $600 is the week beginning March 29th.
    • You can request the week of March 29th on or after April 5th.
  • We are waiting on further federal guidance on two additional parts of the CARES Act and will provide updates as soon as we have more information, including:
    • A new benefit program for some independent contractors and self-employed people who are unemployed as a result of COVID-19 and who are NOT eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
    • The 13-week unemployment benefit extension.

On Monday, Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-29 to help us quickly approve thousands of Minnesotans who have applied and are waiting for their benefits. Previously, DEED was required to delay benefits for applicants who are taking vacation, sick pay or personal time off when they apply for Unemployment Insurance. Executive Order 20-29 suspended that requirement, meaning thousands more Minnesotans will begin receiving benefits very soon. This was a technical change, but one that will provide immediate relief to folks who have been stuck on this common eligibility issue – and we’re grateful for Governor Walz’s leadership to help us get it done.

But many Minnesotans still have pending “eligibility issues” on their accounts, and we’re working as fast as we can to clear those up. Our Unemployment Insurance program currently has more active applicants than it has ever had in the program’s 85-year history – more than 350,000 applications in the last three weeks alone, far exceeding our entire annual total for 2019. Despite this massive and unprecedented amount of applications, our team is working 7 days a week to review eligibility holds and resolve issues.

We have successfully processed initial weekly payments for more than 90% of eligible applicants – but until that number is 100%, we know that Minnesotans are still waiting and need our help. I assure you that we’re working overtime to get you the answers you deserve and the benefits you need.

Finally, we have fully reopened our call lines to assist with questions about your account, password resets and help completing your application – but are asking people to call on certain days and times depending on their needs:

  • If you have a question about your account, call Monday – Thursday, between 8 am – 2 pm.
  • If you need help applying for unemployment benefits, call Friday between 8 am – 4:30 pm.
  • If you need help with your password, call anytime during business hours.
  • Our team is receiving around 800 calls per hour, so you should expect long wait times on the phones.

As always, will remain your best starting point for information and we’re continually updating it with new information and answers to your questions in English,  Español, Hmoob and Somali.

I want to thank Minnesotans for your patience and bearing with us during this crisis. We’re all in this together – and please know that we won’t stop working until every Minnesotan who needs help is able to get through the Unemployment Insurance application process and receive the benefits you need to support your families and take care of yourself.

 – Commissioner Steve Grove

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