Published in: Banks | March 27, 2020

How to Apply for Unemployment in Minnesota

By:  Kailey Hagen

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These benefits can help get you through the next few months.

Minnesota is feeling the pinch of the COVID-19 pandemic just like every other state. Thousands of Minnesota workers have lost their incomes as businesses close to slow the spread of the disease. 

It's natural to worry about your financial security at a time like this, so here's a complete guide to Minnesota unemployment insurance.

The Minnesota state flag waving in front of a blue sky.

Image source: Getty Images

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

If your employer has reduced your hours or laid you off, even temporarily, because of COVID-19, you should apply for unemployment benefits. Benefits may also be available to parents who cannot work because they cannot access childcare.

You must meet the following requirements in order to claim unemployment insurance in Minnesota:

  1. You must be unemployed or have had your hours substantially reduced through no fault of your own.
  2. You must be willing -- and legally able -- to work and actively seeking work every week.
  3. Your past earnings must meet certain standards.

Minnesota looks at your income during a base period. If you apply in the first month of a quarter (January, April, July, or October), this is the first four of the most recently completed five full quarters. If you apply in any other month, your base period will be either the first four or the most recent four completed quarters, depending on which period you earned more wages in.

By our calculations, your minimum earnings would need to be about $3,000 during the base period to qualify for benefits. That’s roughly 5.3% of the state’s average annual wage of $57,824. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you have the right to only seek out and apply to jobs that will not put your health or the health of others at risk. If you've only been laid off temporarily, maintaining contact with your current employer counts toward your seeking work requirement.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

You can apply for unemployment by creating an account on the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance website or by calling the unemployment office. You should have the following information when you apply:

  • Social Security number and personal information
  • Driver's license number or other state government identification number
  • Employment history for the past 18 months, including employer name, address, phone number, dates of employment, and pay rate
  • Bank account number and routing number for direct deposit

Once your account is set up, you must log in weekly to request your benefit payment. There's usually a one-week waiting period before you can receive benefits, but Governor Tim Walz has waived this during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How much money will I receive in unemployment insurance?

Your weekly benefit amount is roughly half of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $740. You'll receive the higher of:

  • 50% of your average weekly wage during the entire base period, up to a maximum of 66.7% of the state's average weekly wage ($740), or
  • 50% of your average weekly wage during your highest-earning quarter of the base period, up to a maximum of 43% of the state's average weekly wage ($478)

You'll get a Determination of Benefit Amount letter in the mail after you apply that explains your weekly and maximum benefit amount. 

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?

You can collect benefits for 26 weeks or until you hit 33.3%. However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.

Keep in mind if you find new employment you will have to stop claiming unemployment benefits.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

You must mail, fax, or electronically file your appeal by the deadline listed on your determination letter. This form will contain detailed instructions on how to file an appeal.

It’s never easy to lose your income, but there’s financial help available during these extraordinary times. Consider signing up for Minnesota unemployment if you believe you qualify.

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