An overview of Minnesota's unemployment benefits

Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program, overseen by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), partially replaces wages for individuals who find themselves out of a job at no fault of their own. It is also referred to as Unemployment Insurance Minnesota or UIMN.

These benefits replace income while an individual is not working and in search of a new job, stabilizing and stimulating the local economy and the individual as they look for work. UI payments are supplemented by job search services offered at no cost through Minnesota’s UI Program.

How unemployment works in Minnesota

Here’s a quick overview of how the unemployment insurance process works in Minnesota.

  1. Before you apply, make sure you meet all benefit requirements.  You must meet all requirements to be eligible to collect unemployment insurance in Minnesota.  This includes determining that you have earned enough wages during your base period, that you became unemployed through no fault of your own, and that you are willing to accept a suitable job offer.
  2. If you meet all benefit requirements, then you can apply for unemployment insurance.  Unemployment applications are accepted M-F, 6 am to 6 pm.  To apply online, visit the Apply for Benefits section of uimn.org.  To apply by phone, call the Minnesota unemployment number most appropriate for you.  If you have difficulty applying online or over the phone, you can also visit a Minnesota unemployment office for additional help.
  3. Determine the amount of your benefit.   After you apply, you will receive a Determination of Benefit Account document in the mail detailing your weekly Minnesota unemployment amount. You can expect to receive about 50 percent of your average weekly pay earned during your base period up to a maximum payment of $683.
  4. Determine the number of weeks you can draw benefits.  Anyone filing a Minnesota unemployment claim who remains eligible for benefits can receive payments for up to one year. Depending on programs and funding available, you may receive a Minnesota unemployment extension of payments emergency state or federal funds.
  5. Know how and when you will be paid.  During the third week that you have a benefit account is the earliest that you will receive a benefit payment. 
  6. Your first week of unemployment is an unpaid waiting week.  Upon approval of your application, you will receive a debit card and your benefits will be loaded onto that card, or you can choose direct deposit into your bank account.
  7. Conduct an ongoing job search.  You are required to look for full-time work while drawing benefits.  You are expected to find and apply to appropriate job openings on a weekly basis and will be asked to report these activities in your Minnesota unemployment weekly claims report.
  8. You can file an appeal if you are denied benefits.  If you are denied benefits, then you can request an appeal hearing to challenge your eligibility determination in front of a Minnesota Unemployment Law Judge.

What Minnesota unemployment requirements do I need to meet to qualify for benefits?

To receive MN unemployment benefits you must fulfill all of the following Minnesota unemployment eligibility criteria:

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Earned enough money during your base period.
How much money you receive in Unemployment Insurance benefits is determined by wages earned within a span of time called a base period. In Minnesota, your base period is a span of 1 year (52 weeks) and all wages, including bonuses, severance pay, commission, vacation pay, and overtime pay earned in any state are included in total wages earned. Self-employment income is not usually included unless it reaches a certain threshold. (See What can affect my Minnesota unemployment insurance benefits?)

Have a legal authorization to work in the United States.
Non-citizens will be subject to right to work verification.

Be out of work at no fault of your own.
In Minnesota, any individual out of work for a reason other than lack of work (layoff) will be guided through a process to determine eligibility for UI benefits:

  1. You will answer questions on your application as to why you became unemployed.
  2. Your employer answers the same questions.
  3. UIMN compares the answers to determine Minnesota unemployment eligibility
  4. UIMN mails both you and your employer a determination outlining whether or not you are eligible.

Maintain an active job search while receiving benefits.
Individuals receiving state of Minnesota unemployment benefits must engage actively in weekly job search activities geared toward finding a suitable position to fit your experience, training, skills and physical and mental capabilities.

Active job search activities may include improving your resume, seeing a job counselor, attending a work skills workshop, taking a career exploration assessment and more. You are expected to find and apply to appropriate job openings on a weekly basis and will be asked to report these activities in your Minnesota unemployment weekly claims report.

Check Your Eligibility

Absolutely RISK-FREE & Confidential Evaluation!

I acknowledge and understand that by submitting this Contact Request form through clicking "Check Eligibility!", I provide my express consent to the following: (1) That I am bound by Eligibility.com LLC’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use; (2) That I am not required to submit this form, and thereby agree to all terms located herein, as a condition to receive any property, goods, or services that may be offered, and that I may revoke my consent at any time.

Be able and willing to accept a suitable job offer
Only individuals who are ready to accept suitable work should it be offered to them are entitled to receive unemployment payments in Minnesota. Some examples of individuals who are not able to accept work include those who:

  • HAVE NOT made necessary arrangements for family care or transportatiom
  • ARE NOT willing to accept normal and reasonable conditions of employment, such as wage, hours/schedule and commuting distance
  • ARE NOT mentally or physically able to accept work (individuals on disability are not eligible for unemployment benefits)
  • ARE on vacation or traveling outside of commuter distance (since you are unable to accept work, benefits will not be paid during this time, but may resume once you return home)
  • ARE in jail or prison or subject to electronic home monitoring
  • ARE in school and do not intend to quit classes in order to begin a new job immediately

How do I apply for Minnesota (MN) unemployment benefits?

Minnesota unemployment applications are accepted Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. You should apply for  unemployment online or via a Minnesota unemployment phone number as soon as you become unemployed or your work hours are reduced significantly. If you have difficulty with applying online or over the phone, you can also visit a Minnesota unemployment office for additional help.

To apply online, visit the Apply for Benefits section of uimn.org. To apply by phone, call the Minnesota unemployment number most appropriate for you:

  • Twin Cities: (651) 296-3644
  • Greater Minnesota: 1-877-898-9090
  • TTY: 1-866-814-1252

During the Minnesota unemployment application process you will need to supply the following information:

  • Mailing address and phone number
  • Driver's license or other government issued identification number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment history for the past 18 months (employer name, address and telephone number; dates of employment (month/year); wage rate; reason stopped working there)

How much will my unemployment insurance payments be? How soon will I get paid? How long can I receive benefits?

After you apply, you will receive a Determination of Benefit Account document in the mail detailing your weekly Minnesota unemployment amount. You can expect to receive about 50 percent of your average weekly pay earned during your base period up to a maximum MNUI payment of $683.

During the third week of having a benefit account is the soonest you will receive payment. Here’s why: state law requires one non-payable week before you are eligible to receive Minnesota unemployment compensation. And since benefits are paid for the prior week (week two benefits paid week three and so on), you will not receive a payment for week two until week three.

A week is considered your non-payable week only if you’ve submitted your UI application and Benefit Payment Request in a timely manner and meet all other eligibility requirements that week.

Anyone filing a Minnesota unemployment claim who remains eligible for benefits can receive payments for up to one year. Depending on programs and funding available, you may receive a Minnesota unemployment extension of payments emergency state or federal funds.

What can affect my Minnesota unemployment insurance benefits?

To maintain your Minnesota unemployment benefits eligibility, you must maintain eligibility each week you receive benefits. The following may affect eligibility or cause adjustments to the benefit amount you receive:

No longer meeting weekly eligibility requirements

You must maintain all points of eligibility to continue receiving benefits. If you get a seasonal or part-time job with an income threshold that still qualifies you for benefits, you must maintain an active job search. Receiving some income does not make you exempt from job search eligibility requirements. Additionally, if you have or acquire a medical condition that prevents you from working you are no longer eligible for benefits. 

Working/earning wages while receiving benefits

In your Minnesota unemployment weekly claim, you will be asked whether or not you worked during that period and the wages you earned. Though earning an income does not immediately disqualify you from receiving benefits, your Minnesota unemployment rate will likely be reduced from the full benefit amount available to you if wages were earned during that period.

Fraud and payment errors

If you make a mistake on your weekly Minnesota unemployment claim, you should contact the Minnesota unemployment department. Your benefits will be adjusted accordingly and there will be no penalty. If you discover that you have made a mistake during the Minnesota unemployment claim filing process, you should contact the unemployment department as soon as possible. 

Unemployment benefit accounts are selected at random each week for audit. Should it be found that you have intentionally provided false information, made a false claim, or failed to report a mistake on your claim, legal action can be taken. Unemployment insurance fraud is not to be taken lightly and can result in criminal charges and even jail time.

Deductions

Under federal and Minnesota State unemployment laws, unemployment benefit payments are categorized as taxable income. You can adjust your tax withholdings by logging into your online account or calling the customer service line appropriate for you.

If you have not repaid an overpayment of unemployment benefits from any state, including Minnesota, UIMN will deduct 50 to 100 percent of your payments to pay off the balance you owe.

Individuals who owe child support in the state of Minnesota or another state will have the payment amount deducted from your benefits payment. The money will then be sent to the appropriate county child support agency where the payments are owed.

Pending application

Certain application items, such as a reason for leaving employment other than a layoff or the reporting of other income may result in a pending application status until those items are investigated and eligibility is verified. You will not receive benefit payments while there is a pending status on your account.

Other income

Receiving other income from one or more of the following sources may affect your benefits:

  • Severance pay
  • Paid time off (vacation, sick, personal time off (PTO)
  • Paid 401K or pension
  • Social security
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Back pay

Receiving other income from one or more of the following sources will not affect your benefits:

  • Income tax and property tax refunds
  • Supplemental Social Security income (SSI) and survivor's or dependent Social Security benefits
  • Investment income (including personal IRAs)
  • Spousal or child support payments paid to you
  • Jury duty pay
  • Volunteer service as a firefighter or ambulance service personnel
  • Service in a U.S. military reserve unit or the National Guard
  • Rental income from property you own, unless this is your main occupation

Self-employment 

Individuals earning self-employment income are eligible for UI benefits if they work less than 32 hours in a week, are actively looking for work as an employee and are willing to adjust their schedule or quit self-employment work to accept another job. Individuals who meet these Minnesota unemployment qualifications will still have 50 percent of their benefit payment deducted because they are self-employed.

Travel

Traveling outside your commuting area makes you ineligible to receive UI benefits during the time of travel since you are unable to immediately accept reasonable work should it be offered to you. To avoid fraud, travel should be reflected in your weekly benefit claim. Your benefit payment will be adjusted to cover days you were traveling or out of your commuting area within the claim period.

Going to school

Claimants taking classes at a higher education institution are eligible to claim Minnesota unemployment benefits if they are willing to drop or adjust their school schedule should they be offered reasonable employment that interferes with a current class schedule. Students who are not willing to alter their course schedule to accept reasonable employment are not eligible to receive benefits. For example, a full-time college student is not likely eligible for benefits, but a student taking a supplemental course at a community college may be eligible.

Owning a business

Generally, business owners who become unemployed from a business they own may only receive benefits for five weeks should they not have enough other employment history during the base period to establish a benefit account. More information on Minnesota unemployment benefits for business owners can be found here.

Can I appeal the decision if my Minnesota unemployment benefit claim is denied?

Minnesota Unemployment Insurance claimants are entitled to a fair and impartial appeal hearing should you want to challenge your legibility determination. Appeals that are filed within a specified timeframe online through your application account or via mail or fax will be granted a hearing by an impartial Minnesota Unemployment Law judge.

To file your Minnesota unemployment appeal via your online account:

  • Login to your account on the Minnesota unemployment website
  • From the homepage, click “View and Maintain My Account”
  • Click “Determination and Issuance Summary”
  • Refer to the “Determination of Eligibility and Decisions” heading and click “Issue Identification Number” referencing the determination that you are ineligible
  • Click “File”

You may also file via fax at (651) 205-4007 or by mail to P.O. Box 4629, St. Paul, MN 55101-4629. When filing via mail or fax you are required to state who is filing the appeal, the reason for the appeal, the Issue ID and your social security number.

If you disagree with the determination received at your hearing you can submit a request for reconsideration within 20 days after the Decision was mailed out. The same judge will review the Decision again.

Should you wish to take the decision past a request for reconsideration you may turn the case over to the Minnesota Court of appeals.

MN Unemployment Key Terms

As you consider applying Minnesota unemployment benefits, you should know and understand what the following terms are:

  • Base period: 52-week period of wages used to determine UI payments
  • Benefits: Unemployment insurance payments made via check or direct deposit directly to those who qualify
  • Claimant: individual applying for benefits
  • Determination: Decision regarding your eligibility to receive Minnesota unemployment insurance benefits
  • Non-payable week: First week of unemployment for which  unemployment insurance benefits are not paid
  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development: Minnesota State department that governs the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program
  • Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program: name of the state program that guides eligibility and payment for Minnesota unemployment insurance claims

How to Contact the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program

Customer service lines are available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays. For more assistance with Minnesota unemployment, contact the phone line most appropriate for you:

  • Twin Cities: (651) 296-3644
  • Greater Minnesota: 1-877-898-9090
  • TTY: 1-866-814-1252

Online assistance can be accessed at uimn.org/applicants/help-support.

You can also receive assistance by visiting one of several Minnesota unemployment office locations.