GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn — Since the coronavirus hit the U.S., roughly 1-in-10 employees are out of work. That’s more than 16 million American workers. In Minnesota, since March 16th, 384,634 workers have filed for unemployment benefits. That’s more people applying for unemployment than all of last year.
So, if you find yourself in this position, here’s what you need to know.
According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, you may be eligible for state unemployment benefits if:
· You are temporarily or permanently out of work.
· You have reduced hours because of COVID-19.
· You were told by a healthcare professional to stay home and avoid contact with others because of COVID-19.
· Your childcare is unavailable because of the virus outbreak, and you made a reasonable effort to find other daycare options, but none were available.
How do you apply?
You can apply online or by phone, however, due to the unprecedented number of people needing assistance, DEED suggests you do this on the website.
Phone: Twin Cities area: 651-296-3644
Greater Minnesota: 1-877-898-9090
TTY - users: 1-866-814-1252
Currently, DEED is asking folks to apply on days that match the last digit of your social security number. You can find that schedule here.
Wait times by phone can reach up to an hour, according to DEED. Several people have contacted KARE-11 saying they are unable to reach anybody on the phone.
Steve Grove, the commissioner of DEED, says he understands people’s frustration with waiting to speak on the phone.
“It’s frustrating for people trying to call in, and it’s frustrating for our staff trying to manage 6,000 calls a day, 13 calls a minutes, 800 calls an hour,” said Grove. “There are only so many windows of time we can devote to call center operations because we are trying to process people’s payments and get people their money as fast as we possibly can.”
What will you will need?
̭· A driver's license or government ID
· 18 months of employment history
· Bank and routing numbers for direct deposit
For a list of every step you need to take during the process, click here to see DEED’s application directions.
Who is eligible for the $600 unemployment payment from the federal government?
Anyone who qualifies for state unemployment will automatically receive the additional federal compensation of $600 per week offered through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The extra federal money can be retroactively counted if you were out of work starting the week of March 29.
Grove says the federal checks will not show up in your DEED account, but rather sent directly to the bank account you give.
How long until you receive your benefit?
Grove said from the time you submit your application to the time you receive the money is taking between one and two weeks on average right now.
Are unemployment benefits taxable?
Yes. Both the state benefits and the additional $600/week from the U.S. Department of Labor are considered taxable income. You can opt to have federal and state taxes taken out of your state benefits immediately.
How much money can you get on unemployment?
Unemployment benefits pay roughly half of your average weekly income with a maximum of $740/week. You can collect these benefits for up to 26 weeks.
The CARES Act however did authorize a 13 week extension to unemployment eligibility.
This does not include the additional $600 you can receive from the federal government.
Try this benefits estimator.
What about self-employed workers or independent contractors?
DEED says it is awaiting guidance from the Dept. of Labor on how to proceed. DEED says they are processing requests under this category and will reach out to applicants if they need additional information.
Here’s an informational link set up specifically for this group.