This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


Rosario Balboa,


Commissioner of Economic Security,

Filed January 25, 2000
Kalitowski, Judge

Department of Economic Security
File No. 1351UC99

John E. Mack, Mack & Daby, P.A., 26 Main Street, P.O. Box 302, New London, MN 56273-0302 (for relator)

Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Harten, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Relator challenges the decision of the commissioner’s representative that she was ineligible for reemployment compensation benefits because she failed to establish she was able to work within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 1(2) (Supp. 1999). We affirm.



"On appeal, [a reviewing court] must review the decision of the Commissioner’s representative, rather than that of the referee." Weaver v. Minnesota Valley Lab., 470 N.W.2d 131, 133 (Minn. App. 1991). Our review of the commissioner’s factual findings is limited to whether the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, supports the decision. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996). We are not bound by the commissioner’s representative’s conclusions of law. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989). A decision by the commissioner’s representative concerning a claimant’s eligibility for benefits will be upheld if it is reasonably supported by the evidence. Decker v. City Pages, Inc., 540 N.W.2d 544, 548 (Minn. App. 1995).

In order to be eligible for benefits under the reemployment insurance statutes, a claimant must be able to work, available for employment, and actively seeking employment. Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 1(2). Under the department’s rules, "able to work" means that a claimant has the physical and mental ability to perform the usual duties of the job, or the usual duties of other work for which claimant is qualified. Minn. R. 3305.0400, subp. 1 (1997). A claimant bears the burden of proving ability to work. Id.

Relator argues that insufficient evidence exists to support the decision that she was medically unable to work and thus ineligible for benefits. We disagree. Relator’s testimony established that she was ineligible for benefits. Relator testified at the hearing that (1) she would need surgery to correct her carpal tunnel syndrome before she could return to work, (2) her doctor had advised her not to work until she had the surgery, and (3) she had not yet had the surgery. Moreover, on her Reemployment Insurance Application, relator answered "yes," to the question, "Is there any reason that you cannot accept full time work?" and explained that she needed treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. This evidence supports the finding of the commissioner’s representative that relator was unable to work because of her physical condition.

Relator argues that because the reemployment insurance judge determined that she did not voluntarily quit and therefore was not disqualified from benefits, she must be entitled to receive them. But the issue of eligibility is separate and distinct from the issue of disqualification. Decker, 540 N.W.2d at 547. Compare Minn. Stat. § 268.085 (Supp. 1999) (eligibility) with Minn. Stat. § 268.095 (Supp. 1999) (disqualification). While an employer has the burden to prove an employee is disqualified from receiving benefits, an employee carries the burden of proving she is eligible to receive benefits. Decker, 540 N.W.2d at 547. Relator has failed to meet this burden.

Relator also suggests that the reemployment insurance judge must have concluded she was discharged due to a "serious illness," pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4 (1998), because he held that she did not voluntarily quit.[1] But this statutory provision applies to an employee who is discharged for misconduct related to a serious illness. Relator was denied benefits because of ineligibility, and not because of disqualification for misconduct.

Finally, relator argues that the commissioner’s representative can only deny reemployment benefits to a claimant based on a medical inability to work if the claimant is either (1) actively seeking workers’ compensation benefits, or (2) unable to perform the essential functions of her job with reasonable accommodations under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). Both arguments are without legal basis. The statutory reference to workers’ compensation benefits simply provides that reemployment benefits must be offset by any workers’ compensation award for lost wages. Further, relator must pursue any cause of action she may have under the MHRA in a separate proceeding. See Dingmann v. Travelers Country Club, 420 N.W.2d 231, 233 (Minn. App. 1988).

Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the decision of the commissioner’s representative, we conclude that relator failed to meet her burden of showing she was eligible to receive reemployment insurance benefits.


Relator claims that she did not receive proper notice that her medical ability to work would be at issue at the hearing before the reemployment insurance judge. In seeking reemployment compensation benefits, an employee is protected by the procedural due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment. Schulte v. Transportation Unlimited, Inc., 354 N.W.2d 830, 832 (Minn. 1984). Where required by due process, notice must communicate the interest at stake in order to be constitutionally sufficient. Id. at 834.

Relator argues that the notice of hearing she received in appeal number 1350UC99 was inadequate because it identified the issue to be heard as whether she "should be disqualified from benefits under the statute because of the reasons for loss of employment." But the second notice of hearing issued in relator’s companion appeal, number 1351UC99, identified the second issue to be heard at that same hearing as: "Does the claimant meet the statutory requirements to be eligible for benefits?" Moreover, the judge explicitly referred to the two separate issues at the hearing, and relator did not object or claim she had not received proper notice. We conclude that relator received sufficient notice that her eligibility for benefits was at issue.


[1] Relator's claim arose under the 1998 statute. This provision was subsequently amended. Minn. Stat § 268.095 (Supp. 1999).