In June 2022, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry was tasked with overseeing the Frontline Worker Pay (also known as “hero pay”) application process. With roughly $500 million set aside for frontline workers who selflessly showed up to work at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, each person who applied is expected to receive a portion of that money.
Unfortunately, it has recently been discovered that over 200,000 hero pay applications were denied. But why?
Unverifiable IDs were the main factor that caused more than 90,000 hero pay applications to be denied.
According to MPR News, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry said it denied 95,282 out of the nearly 1.2 million applications it received due to officials being “unable to verify applicants’ IDs.” The agency also claimed it had to toss 47,145 Frontline Worker Pay applications into the denial pile as they were duplicates.
While those were the two main factors that drove the agency to deny hero pay applications, some of the other reasons included:
- Some applicants earned more than the allowable amount.
- Some applicants collected more in unemployment benefits than allowed.
- Others weren't able to prove their line of work qualified them for benefits.
The agency announced via its Frontline Worker Pay website that it had emailed denial notices on August 16, 2022, and provided the reasoning for why an application wasn't accepted.
Who qualifies for Minnesota’s hero pay?
The Department of Labor and Industry began accepting hero pay applications on June 8, 2022, with a deadline of July 22, 2022. In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must have met the following eligibility criteria:
- They were employed, at minimum, 120 hours in Minnesota and held a frontline position between March 20, 2020, and June 30, 2021. The position could have been in any of the following industries: building services, child care, courts, corrections, emergency responders, ground or air transportation, healthcare, food service, manufacturing, public health, public transit, retail, schools, shelters and hotels, or vocational rehabilitation.
- They weren't able to work remotely given their line of work.
- They had to work closely with people outside of their households.
- They didn't receive unemployment benefits for more than 20 weeks during the period stipulated above.
- Their earnings didn't exceed $350,000 (married filing jointly) or $175,000 (other filers) either in 2020 or 2021 when working in a position that involved direct COVID-19 patient care.
- Their earnings didn't exceed $185,000 (married filing jointly) or $85,000 (other filers) either in 2020 or 2021 when working in any other type of frontline position.
If your hero pay application was denied, you can appeal it through August 31, 2022.
If the Department of Labor and Industry notified you via email that your hero pay application was denied, you hold the right to appeal the decision. Your email should provide the exact instructions on how you can do this.
It’s worth noting that your appeal must be submitted within 15 days of you receiving your denial notice. The agency also noted on its website that all appeals must be submitted by August 31, 2022. Once the agency processes all the appeals it receives, it will then email you regarding its decision on your case.
Here’s how much you’ll receive if your hero pay application was approved.
The amount Minnesota frontline workers will receive in “hero pay” has yet to be determined. However, the amount will be based on the total number of approved applications. Because the Department of Labor and Industry is accepting appeals through Aug. 31, approved applicants likely won’t know what their benefit amount will be until all appeals have been processed.
The agency did make it clear, however, that Frontline Worker Pay will be evenly divided among those who were approved, though payments won’t exceed $1,500.