This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
Kathleen B. Skluzacek,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed August 8, 2000
Department of Economic Security
File No. 370899
Kathleen B. Skluzacek, 9160 West 70th Street, Lonsdale, MN 55046 (relator-pro se)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent-commissioner)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Pro se relator, Kathleen B. Skluzacek, appeals the decision of the commissioner’s representative finding her ineligible to receive reemployment benefits. We reverse.
Relator Kathleen B. Skluzacek established a reemployment compensation account with the Minnesota Department of Economic Security on July 18, 1999. The department employs a “teleclaim” system by which claimants can request benefits over the telephone by responding to recorded questions and prompts. Skluzacek used the teleclaim system and received benefits for August 1 through 14, 1999.
She called the department to renew her benefits for the period of August 15 through 28, 1999. Her call was cut off. She called again and thought she had answered all the questions. The department, however, had no record of that call.
When Skluzacek did not receive her benefits, she waited for a time, thinking there was a delay in mailing. After several weeks, she called the department only to be placed on hold for a long period. She terminated the call and repeatedly tried to get through to the department. She placed approximately 15 telephone calls altogether, was put on hold for periods up to 1.75 hours, and never succeeded in connecting with the department.
On October 15, 1999, the department determined that Skluzacek was ineligible for benefits from August 15 through 28, 1999, because she had failed to file her claim through teleclaim.
A reemployment compensation judge concluded that Skluzacek had failed to show good cause for late filing and ruled that she was ineligible for benefits. On review, a representative of the commissioner affirmed, stating that
the applicant’s phone call was cut off once and that she, thereafter, could not get through by phone on several occasions when she tried to file via teleclaim, did not provide the applicant with good cause for failing to try again to insure that her continued claim form had been properly filed.
Skluzacek challenges the commissioner’s ruling.
D E C I S I O N
The purpose of Minnesota’s Economic Security Law is “to serve those who are unemployed through no fault of their own.” Decker v. City Pages, Inc., 540 N.W.2d 544, 550 (Minn. App. 1995).
This court reviews a commissioner’s representative’s decision to determine whether there is “reasonable support in the evidence to sustain the decision.” Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995) (quoting Chellson v. Division of Employment & Sec., 214 Minn. 332, 335, 8 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1943). This court will reverse if the record does not contain evidence that reasonably tends to sustain the commissioner’s representative’s findings. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996).
To be eligible for reemployment compensation benefits, a claimant must establish an active account with the department. Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 1999). Skuzacek did that. The claimant must then make a continued request for benefits by telephone, or other means delineated by statute. Minn. Stat. § 268.086, subd. 3 (Supp. 1999). Skluzacek made the call, thought she had followed the requisite procedure, and believed that she had successfully completed her continued request for benefits.
When she did not receive her benefits, Skluzacek repeatedly attempted to make telephone contact with the department but was always placed on hold.
The commissioner does not dispute Skluzacek’s evidence. The department’s sole evidence is that it had no telephone record of Skluzacek’s request for continued benefits. The department does not explain how the teleclaim system ensures that the claimant will know whether or not the request has been recorded. Nor does the department explain how a claimant may inquire about benefits or explain a late filing when the claimant is placed on hold for extensive periods and is not readily connected with the department.
Although the teleclaim system ostensibly would serve the convenience of claimants and the department alike, here the technology frustrated that purpose. Good cause for failing to file a timely request for continued benefits is “a compelling substantial reason that would have prevented a reasonable person acting with due diligence” from filing within the deadline. Minn. Stat. § 268.086, subd. 9 (Supp. 1999).
We hold that Skluzacek acted reasonably and with due diligence in attempting to file her request for continued benefits and in attempting to explain any inadequacy in that filing. The record does not reasonably support the commissioner’s representative’s decision.