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Minnesota Unemployment – Know Your Rights

Last Verified: January 2017

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development provides temporary assistance to displaced workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. The state rode the recession well, managing to reduce its unemployment rate quickly, keeping many on the rolls while paying benefits at one of the highest maximum rates in the nation. Learn how to collect unemployment in Minnesota should difficult circumstances befall you in uncertain economic times.

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits in MN

Workers fully or partially unemployed who have earned enough wages over a 12-month period may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Their employer would have to have paid into the unemployment insurance program for displaced workers to be eligible.

Further requirements:

  • Lost your job through no fault of your own
  • Able and available to work any reasonable job offer
  • Legally authorized to work in the US

Workers who receive benefits must show a significant effort to find work the entire time they receive benefits. They must also maintain their initial eligibility status. The state monitors eligibility by requiring recipients to recertify their status weekly.

If you worked more than 32 hours in the week you file your initial claim, you will not be considered unemployed.

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Covered Employment

Some employers pay unemployment insurance premiums to the state, and others are exempt from the requirement. Employees who work for a company that pays unemployment insurance premiums are eligible to apply for benefits.

Lost Your Job Through No Fault of Your Own

Generally, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits if your actions or decisions caused your dismissal from work. However, if you lost your job because of a plant closing or the employer had nothing for you to do and sent you home, the Department may approve your claim.

Able and available

You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file a claim. You should be able to perform work the type of work you normally perform.

You should be available to accept any job that you’ve been trained to do at a salary reasonably similar to the job you lost. If you were working full-time before, you should be available to work full-time at another job.

Students should be able to rearrange their schedule to accept a reasonable job offer, to accept full-time work if they were working full-time.

Legally Authorized to Work

You must be a US citizen or be otherwise eligible to work in the US (have an alien registration card).

Monetary Eligibility and the Wage Requirement

The Department uses a formula to calculate the amount of benefits you will be eligible to receive each week. They observe your wages over a 12-month period called the base period. The base period is the first four quarters (3-month period) of the last five quarters you worked.

unemployment base period
This chart shows the base period for a monetary determination

If there are enough wages within that period, you may qualify for benefits (if otherwise eligible). If there aren’t enough wages within the standard base period, the Department will look at your wages over the four most recent completed quarters prior to your filing a claim.

The Amount of Unemployment Benefits in Minnesota

The Department provides a method of estimating your potential unemployment benefits based only on income reported to the state during your base period.

The state does not provide exact figures or its calculation, but estimates your weekly benefit amount (WBA) will be half of the wages you earned while employed. The maximum is currently $683 per week.

You can receive up to 26 weeks of benefit payments during your benefit year. The benefit year is the one-year period beginning on the date you file your initial claim.

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits in MN

You may apply for benefits online at the Department’s Applicant Self-Service System or by telephone. You may receive assistance in several foreign languages if you use the telephone system.

  • Twin Cities area: 651-296-3644
  • Greater Minnesota: 1-877-898-9090 (Toll Free)
  • TTY (for the deaf and hard of hearing): 1-866-814-1252

The Self-Service system is available Monday through Friday between 6AM and 6PM.

You will need to collect some information before you file your initial claim:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license number or other state government identification number
  • Contact information (mailing address and telephone number)
  • Employment history for the past 18 months, including:
    • Each employers name, address and telephone number
    • Dates of employment for each employer
    • Pay rate
    • Reason the job ended
  • Bank routing number and account information if you want to use Direct Deposit

If you are not a citizen of the US, you will need proof you can work legally in the US.

If you were separated from the military or the federal government within the past 18 months, you will need to provide the appropriate separation forms.

You will receive specific instructions on how to proceed when you visit the Self-Service system online or when you call into the applicant telephone number.

How to Get Paid

You will be paid either via Direct Deposit or a US Bank debit card.

You will request a benefit check by phone Tuesday through Friday, 6AM to 6PM. You can request a payment online on Mondays during the 6AM to 6PM window.

Assigned Call in Day and Time

If the last digit of your

Social Security number is:

Call in:
1, 3, or 5 Tuesday
6 a.m. to noon
7 or 9 Tuesday
noon to 6 p.m.
0, 2, or 4 Wednesday
6 a.m. to noon
6 or 8 Wednesday
noon to 6 p.m.
Any Thursday or Friday
6 a.m. to 6 p.m.



Weekly Certification and Maintaining Eligibility

The Department requires applicants who receive benefits to maintain their eligibility status while they are receiving benefits. To accomplish this, the state requires benefit recipients to file a weekly claim, called weekly certification. You will certify when you call or go online to request a benefit payment.

You certify each week for which you file a claim for benefits the same way you filed your initial claim, either online or by telephone. You can file online weekly if you used the telephone to file your initial claim, and you can file by telephone weekly if you filed your initial claim online.

The system will ask you several questions to determine whether you remain eligible to receive benefits.

  • Did you work during the week?
  • Did you have any other income?
  • Did you quit a job?
  • Did you refuse to accept suitable employment?
  • Were you looking for work?

Suitable employment would be work similar to the job you lost or one that you were trained to do. The job should, but doesn’t have to, pay a similar salary. The longer you are unemployed, the less significant the definition of “suitable employment” becomes, and you may be required to accept job offers less similar to your old job.

Work Search Requirement

The Department will ask about the progress of your job search each week that you request a benefit payment. You should keep a record of your efforts to find work in case the Department selects you for a review.

Adequate job search efforts include:

  • Visiting an employer’s place of business to fill out a job application.
  • Preparing and mailing resumes in response to employer ads or job leads.
  • Telephoning employers to arrange for job interviews.
  • Attending creative job seeking skills classes, workshops, job clubs or other related job search activities.
  • Meeting with a career counselor and taking skills and interests tests.
  • Networking in your occupational field and industry.
  • Conducting searches using Internet job banks and bulletin boards as well as professional/trade publications.
  • Researching companies in your field of work and exploring current labor market conditions.
  • Maintaining contact with professional organizations.
  • Attending a Reemployment Session conducted at local WorkForce Centers.
  • Members of a referral union who are not allowed to seek employment on their own meet the work search requirement by remaining in good standing with the union.

If you filed your initial claim based on part-time work, you satisfy the requirement by looking for part-time work.

The easiest way to satisfy the requirement is by visiting a local WorkForce Center and working with staff to conduct a search.

Part-time Work and Eligibility

You may work part-time in Minnesota and receive benefits as long as you don’t work more than 32 hours per week and your wages don’t exceed your WBA. You won’t be considered unemployed if those situations occur. You will have to reopen your claim (if during the same benefit year) when the condition no longer exists.

You must report wages and other income when you request a benefit payment (file a weekly claim). You report the wages for the week you earn them, not the week you get paid.

You will still receive payment for any week you work, but make less than your WBA or work less than 32 hours. The system will automatically deduct half of the earnings you report from your WBA.

In addition to wages earned, other income may be deducted from your WBA.

Self-employment will only affect your benefits to the extend it affects eligibility. If you worked more than 32 hours per week, you made more than your WBA or your self-employment kept you from looking for work that week, you won’t be eligible for benefits that week.

If you have business expenses because of your self-employment, you may deduct those from the wages you report to the Department.

You may choose to withhold income tax from your benefit amounts or pay the tax when you file in April.

Get unemployment benefits in MN

Reasons for Denial of Benefits

You may be denied benefits if you fail to meet the monetary eligibility requirements; if you didn’t make enough money during the base period. You will receive a Notice of Monetary Determination that provides this information. Even if you qualify through wages, other issues may cause a disqualification. Those issues will be determined separately from the wage issue.

If your actions or decisions caused your separation from work, the state will deny your claim for unemployment benefits.

If you quit because your class workload was too great, Minnesota may deny benefits. Your decision caused the separation from work, even though the reason may have been “good” for you.

If you violated some rule at work repeatedly despite regular warnings from your employer, the state may deny benefits. Your actions would, in this case, amount to misconduct connected to your work.

There may be other reasons not connected to the wage requirement or to separation issues that may cause disqualification.

  • You are unable to work (incapacitated)
  • You are unavailable to work (incarcerated, out of the state, unwilling to change your class schedule)
  • You not a US citizen or resident alien
  • While the state is likely to deny benefits if these conditions exist, your circumstances may suggest you would be eligible for benefits anyway.

Quit and Still Eligible

If you quit for a “good cause,” you may still be eligible even though you made the decision to leave work. Your employer may have done something or failed to do something that left you with no choice but to leave work.

  • Your employer forced you to work without pay for a long period
  • Your employer forced you to work in unsafe conditions
  • Your employer allowed conditions to exist that violated some government rule or law

You will have to show that these conditions did in fact exist and that you made a significant effort to try to solve the issue before quitting. Your employer will receive notice of your application for unemployment and the reason you gave for the separation. They may make an argument against your stated reasons.

Fired and Still Eligible

If your employer dismissed you from work for violating a rule or policy and gave you regular warnings about your conduct, the Department is likely to deny your claim for benefits. However, firing you for a one-time violation of a policy may not rise to the level of “misconduct connected to your work.”

Situations like these are not likely to be resolved at the initial claims level. You may have to appeal the original decision, where the state will hold an administrative hearing to examine the facts about what happened during your separation.

If you are denied benefits, please visit our section on appealing benefits decision in Minnesota.

For more information about filing for unemployment benefits in Minnesota:

Visit the website of the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program

visit the website for Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Read the online version of the worker’s handbook

Read the Appeals Guide to learn more about filing an appeal


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