6/24/2020 2:50:16 PM
Commissioner Steve Grove
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota's Unemployment Insurance (UI) program has received more than 800,000 applications for unemployment. The impact of this global pandemic is staggering and has impacted every community in our state. We know how difficult the past few months have been for so many Minnesotans who found themselves out of work – or working significantly less – through no fault of their own, as well as for the hundreds of thousands of businesses who have had to close, modify operations, change their business practices, and find new ways to bring in revenue or serve their customers and clients.
Through it all, I've been deeply encouraged by how Minnesotans have come together to support one another and their communities, and take the proper safety precautions like wearing masks and social distancing so we can continue to safely reopen our economy, put people back to work, and help our small businesses across Minnesota.
There are several updates related to Unemployment Insurance that we want to be sure you know about:
Earlier this month, DEED made the formal request to transition to federal funding for unemployment benefits. We expect that the fund balance in our state's UI Trust Fund will go negative in July, and we acted proactively to ensure benefits will continue without delay. Many other states had to make this request before Minnesota, and we expect that all 50 states will have to do so in order to handle the unprecedented rise in unemployment claims across the country. Rest assured, this transition to federal funding is something we've done before and it is a clear process laid out in federal law. If you remain eligible to receive unemployment, you will see no delay or change in your benefits because of this transition.
Minnesotans who have been receiving unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) have also received an additional $600 payment each week, which was provided by the federal government in the CARES Act. The last week that this additional benefit can be paid is the week ending July 25, 2020. If you remain eligible for unemployment or PUA, you'll still receive your normal payment – but after July 25, you will no longer receive the additional $600.
Minnesota state law currently prohibits high school students from receiving unemployment. We applaud the advocates and lawmakers who are working to temporarily change this to address the ongoing pandemic and economic disruption. Governor Walz and DEED are supportive of this change, and will continue to work with legislators to support legislation to temporarily expand the program to high school students.
Minnesota's UI program runs a continuous investigation program to detect suspicious accounts or fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, given the influx of unemployment applications, we've also seen an increase in bad actors who have stolen personal identities from other sources and tried to use them to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits. In most cases, we are able to detect these fraudulent attempts and stop them before any money gets paid – and we do report cases to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Labor.
One common way that fraud is discovered is if a person who did not apply for unemployment receives a determination of benefit account letter. If you, or anyone you know, suspects fraud in the unemployment insurance program, we encourage you to report it immediately here: Report Unemployment Insurance Fraud.
As always, the hardworking staff at Minnesota's Unemployment Insurance program stand ready to help you. Most Minnesotans who have applied for UI have begun receiving benefits, but if you have questions or need assistance – please visit uimn.org first, where we've provided pages of information, resources and frequently asked questions. If you need additional help, we're asking folks to call on certain days or times so we can better serve everyone – you can find more information here.
This continues to be an extraordinary time for unemployment insurance programs across the country. Our goal is to provide the best service possible to Minnesotans as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together.