More than 200,000 pandemic ‘hero pay’ applications in Minnesota face denial

Staff utilize protective wear while working with COVID-19 patients
Staff utilize protective wear while working with COVID-19 patients inside negative pressure rooms on Dec. 8, 2021 at the St. Cloud Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News 2021

State officials say nearly 18 percent of applications for pandemic “hero” bonuses in Minnesota are facing denial.

That adds up to more than 214,000 of the nearly 1.2 million applications submitted by last month's deadline.

In an update Tuesday, the state Department of Labor and Industry said nearly half of the tentative denials — 95,282 — were because officials were unable to verify applicants’ IDs.

Another 47,145 applications were duplicates.

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Other denials were because some applicants made more money in income or from unemployment benefits than allowed under the program, or couldn't prove that their work qualified.

Those who were denied should be notified by email on Tuesday. And people have until the end of the month to appeal the denials.

The state set aside $500 million in frontline worker pay available to people in more than a dozen job fields — from health care workers to custodians.

The bonus checks will be equal in size once the pool of recipients is ultimately determined.

Nearly twice as many people applied for bonuses as Minnesota officials expected would qualify.