St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The State of Minnesota has begun issuing unemployment benefit payments to people who would normally be ineligible to receive the assistance.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development today announced the agency has started making the payments to people who are self-employed, independent contractors, and other eligible recipients who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. The payments are being made through a new program titled PUA, which was authorized by Congress to the over $2 trillion CARES Act that was signed into law in late March.

“In less than one month, DEED’s unemployment insurance team has created the infrastructure to implement this brand new program, determine eligibility, prevent fraud and adapt to the unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19,” said Commissioner Steve Grove. “While it will take us some time to determine eligibility for everyone who applies for PUA, we are working closely with the Department of Revenue to expedite that process. Minnesota is proudly one of the first states in the nation to implement all three components of the federal CARES Act and provide critical financial assistance to hundreds of thousands of people who have been impacted by this pandemic.”

State officials say people who have already applied for regular unemployment benefits do not need to do anything extra to qualify for benefits under the PUA program. DEED will be automatically establishing a benefit account for eligible applicants. Anyone who has not applied for unemployment benefits and believes they would be eligible under the PUA program can find additional information and instructions on the DEED website.

The agency expects to communicate with most people eligible for the new benefits under the PUA program by the end of April.

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