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How Do I File for Unemployment in Minnesota?

Note: If you live in another state, which many of our clients do, let us know and we’d be happy to do research for you!

You went to a good college.  You received a degree in an advanced field.  You were just starting to make some good money.  You were checking all the boxes on the ‘adulting’ checklist.  But wait, what’s this?  Unemployment!?  This wasn’t on the checklist last year!?

Like many of our readers, you are likely facing the reality (or possibility) of a pay decrease, reduced employer benefits, or maybe even losing your job.  Our parents told us to go to college, get a stable job, and never look back.  We did all the things, and now this.  But don’t you worry, we are going to walk you through this one step at a time.

The federal government and states across the US are providing economic support above and beyond traditional unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus (this bodes well for you).  This blog provides information on applying for unemployment benefits specifically in Minnesota.  Initially, it will feel like an intimidating process.  However, you’ll get the hang of it!  The most challenging part of all of this is how to cash flow plan during these uncertain times.  That’s one of our specialties (and Natalie’s favorite thing to work on with our clients!).

How do I apply?

You are able to apply for unemployment benefits in Minnesota by phone or online:

Are you filing for unemployment for the first time?

If you’ve filed for unemployment in the past, you’ve likely already created an account online.  However, if this is your first time, you will need to file for unemployment on a specific day of the week.  COVID-19 is placing the unemployment system under stress.  To help alleviate that stress, they require you to file based on the last digit of your social security number (SSN) and day of week.

Social Security Number (ending in)        Day of Week (6 am - 8 pm)

0, 1, 2                Monday, Thursday, Friday

3, 4, 5                Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

6, 7, 8, 9                        Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

When do I apply for unemployment benefits?

You are able to apply the same week you become unemployed or when your work hours are greatly reduced (such as being placed on furlough).

How much will I get paid in unemployment benefits?

You will receive about 50% of your average weekly wage up to the state (Minnesota) maximum of $740 per week.  In addition to this amount, you will also receive the Federal weekly payment of $600 until July 31, 2020.  The maximum amount an individual in MN can receive is $1,340/week at this time.  Things to note here: your federal payment will be $600/week regardless of what your MN payment is (long story short: it won’t fluctuate).  Your MN payment is TBD.  Also, your online portal on the MN website will not display your federal amount, you will just see it hit your bank account OR loaded onto your debit card automatically.

How do I request my unemployment payment?

You must request a payment online or via phone for each week you are unemployed.  This is not a set-it-and-forget-it process.  The process is similar to when you file for unemployment the first time.  You must utilize the last digit of your SSN to determine what day of the week you to request your unemployment benefit amount.  For example, if the last digit of your SSN ends in a 5, your initial application will need to be conducted on Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday between 6 am and 8 pm (see above).  Afterwards, you will request your weekly unemployment benefit amount on Tuesdays between 6 am and 12 pm (see below).  If I were you, I’d add this to your calendar, task list, alarm system or whatever you use to remind yourself to file each week!

Social Security Number (ending in)      Day of Week

1, 3, 5             Tuesday 6 am - 12 pm

7, 9                     Tuesday 12 pm - 6 pm

0, 2, 4             Wednesday 6 am - 12 pm

6, 8                     Wednesday 12 pm - 6 pm

Any                    Thursday or Friday 6 am - 6 pm

To request your weekly benefit, click this website.  Then head to applicants > login > request benefit payment.

When can I expect my first deposit?

The earliest you can expect payment is the third week into your benefit account.  Benefits are based on previous work weeks (as opposed to current or future weeks).  This is typically how it works:

  • WEEK ONE: non-payable week in MN.
  • WEEK TWO: first ‘payable’ week in MN.
  • WEEK THREE: first week to request payment based on the first payable week (week two).  This is also the first week to be eligible to actually receive payment.

Your payment may be delayed if your earnings are greater than your weekly benefit amount or you worked 32+ hours in a week or the state needs more information from you to determine if you are eligible.

How are my unemployment benefits paid?

You have the option to have your benefit paid by direct deposit (typically will take 3 business days to be deposited into your bank account) or your benefit can be added to an unemployment debit card.

Do I have to report working when I request unemployment payment?

Yes!  Each time you request benefits you must answer ‘yes’ if you worked.  This includes the following:

  • Last week of old job or first week of a new job
  • Temporary job
  • Part time job
  • Self employment or working for cash
  • Job outside of usual occupation
  • Training at a new employer
  • Hours reduced

You must report total hours worked that week and all total gross earnings including wages, tips, cash, self employment income, and any value of goods/services received for working.

How does working affect my unemployment pay?

You are not eligible if in any week you worked 32 or more hours or when your gross earnings exceed your unemployment weekly benefit.

Will my earnings be verified?

Yes, your earnings reported will be verified.  You must report accurately or it is considered fraud.  If you are overpaid benefits then you must report it and repay your over payment.  If your over payment is due to fraud or misrepresentation then you’ll be charged a 40% penalty and interest on the overpaid amount.  Don’t take advantage of the system!

What other income  affects my benefits?

Other income sources that affect your unemployment benefits include:

  • Severance (this is NOT in all states, but it is in MN!)
  • Sick pay
  • Holiday pay
  • Vacation pay
  • Pension or 401(k) payments
  • Social security payments
  • Workers compensation

How do I know if I am eligible for unemployment benefits?

You must be able and willing to immediately accept work in your usual occupation or other suitable employment.  

You are not eligible if you are traveling outside of your commuting area, unless it is to actively seek work.  RE-READ THAT SENTENCE !!  ‘But, Dan!  I’m a millennial and love traveling!’  I’m just the messenger, my friend.  But seriously, be careful of posting vacation photos on Instagram if you’re unemployed and collecting benefits.  You better believe that the unemployment department has a squad of auditors who probably have social media accounts of their own...

If you are a student and taking classes, you must continue to look for work and be willing to rearrange or quit classes if necessary to accept work.  Again, don’t kill the messenger.  This fact confuses and frustrates us both.

I started work full time again, how do I stop my unemployment benefits?

When you return to full-time work, you can make your final payment request then simply stop requesting payment.  There is no need to ‘notify’ the state.  Even if you start work in the middle of the week, you’ll want to request unemployment benefits in case you qualify for the days you weren’t working.  

Do I need to keep logging into my account afterwards?

Yes, you may need to!  It is vital to keep your address on your account updated for a minimum of 4 years after your last payment.  You can still be audited! If your contact information is not updated, and the department notifies you by mail (via an outdated address) for over payment, then you are still responsible for that over payment and out-of-date address debacle.

Are my unemployment benefits taxed?

Yes, your unemployment benefits are considered taxable income.  The MN unemployment system will ask if you want to withhold taxes, and if you’ve been withholding from your regular income it may make sense to continue withholding on your unemployment benefits.  If you don’t withhold taxes, you may receive a reduced refund or have to pay in when you file your 2020 tax return.

NOTE: the federal unemployment benefit of $600/week does not allow you to withhold taxes.  Plan accordingly!

What are my unemployment benefits based on?

Your unemployment benefit is based on your gross wages paid by employers during the most recent 52 week period of time.  If you earned wages in another state then you are able to file with Minnesota if at least some wages in the 52 week base period were paid by a Minnesota employer.  If not, then contact the other state to file for unemployment benefits.

Now what?

Filing for unemployment can feel daunting at first, but it will get easier.  Plus, now that you’ve read this handy-dandy blog, you will be much more prepared!

Losing your job, taking a pay decrease, or being placed on furlough is not found on our ideal career path.  We were never taught how to manage our livelihood through a crisis.  This guide is meant to help make this transition as easy and non-taboo as possible.  We are always here to help you and your specific situation.

- Dan

Disclaimer:  This article is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation of Fyooz Financial Planning, Natalie Slagle CFP®, or Daniel Slagle CFP®. Past performance may not be indicative of future results and may have been impacted by events and economic conditions that will not prevail in the future. Therefore, it should not be assumed that future performance of any specific security, investment product or investment strategy referenced in the article, either directly or indirectly, will be profitable or equal to the corresponding indicated performance level(s). No portion of the article shall be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any specific security or investment product or to engage in any particular investment or financial planning strategy. Any reference to a market index is included for illustrative purposes only, as it is not possible to directly invest in an index. Indices are unmanaged, hypothetical vehicles that serve as market indicators and do not account for the deduction of management fees or transaction costs generally associated with investable products, which otherwise have the effect of reducing the performance of an actual investment portfolio.

Dan Slagle
Founder, Fyooz Financial

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