This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed January 7, 2003
Robert H. Schumacher, Judge
Mulcahy Drywall, Inc., 3050 Echo Lake Avenue, Mahtomedi, MN 55115 (respondent)
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
ROBERT H. SCHUMACHER, Judge
Relator Trevor J. Tornio challenges the decision of the commissioner's representative denying him unemployment benefits because he failed to timely request continued benefits. We affirm.
Tornio established an unemployment benefit account with the Minnesota Department of Economic Security (the department) on December 2, 2001. The department informed Tornio that he was required to make biweekly continued requests for benefits as long as he remained unemployed. After timely making several such requests, Tornio failed to contact the department between January 13 and February 18, 2002. The department subsequently denied Tornio benefits between January 13 and February 2 but reactivated his benefits account as of February 3.
Tornio challenged the department's denial of benefits, arguing he had forgotten to call because of stress in his personal life. An unemployment law judge upheld the denial, concluding that Tornio had not shown good cause for failing to comply with the continued-request requirement. On review, the commissioner's representative affirmed.
The construction of statutes governing eligibility and disqualification for unemployment benefits is a question of law, which we review de novo. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 375 (Minn. 1996). We accord "particular deference" to the commissioner's fact findings when they are incorporated into the legal conclusions. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995) (reaffirming that appellate courts review findings of the commissioner's representative, not the unemployment law judge).
To be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, a claimant must establish an active benefit account with the department and must file a continued request for unemployment benefits as required by the department. Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 1 (2000). Here, Tornio was required to request continued benefits by telephone every two weeks as long as he remained unemployed. If a request is not filed within 14 days after the scheduled reporting week, the claimant
shall be ineligible for unemployment benefits for the period covered by the continued request and the benefit account shall be considered inactive, unless the applicant shows good cause.
Minn. Stat. § 268.086, subd. 4(b) (2002). Good cause is defined as
a compelling substantial reason that would have prevented a reasonable person acting with due diligence from filing a continued request for unemployment benefits within the time periods required.
Id. at subd. 9 (2002). Good cause does not include forgetfulness. Id.
Tornio admits that he failed to request continued benefits requests within fourteen days of the period covered by the continued request, but argues his forgetfulness was justified by financial and emotional stress related to his wife's fertility treatment. But, as the commissioner's representative found, Tornio timely called the department at least three times to request continued benefits after the fertility treatment had begun and before allowing the account to become inactive and resumed making timely requests after the one-month lapse. It is apparent that he understood the proper procedure to maintain an active benefits account. Although we are sympathetic to Tornio's difficulties, forgetfulness – his stated reason for not timely calling the department – is not a specific statutory exception to good cause. Tornio did not present a compelling, substantial reason that would prevent a reasonable person acting with due diligence from filing a continued request within the required time period. We therefore uphold the decision of the commissioner's representative.