Minnesota front-line worker hero pay applications set to open Wednesday

Labor officials aimed to remind people that the applications would be reviewed after 45-day window, not on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Duluth Fire Capt. Lisa Consie goes through the mask inventory in the engine at Duluth Fire Station 11 on Feb. 2, 2021.
Jed Carlson / Duluth News Tribune
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ST. PAUL — Workers that remained on the job at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic can start applying for a hero pay check from the state beginning Wednesday, June 8, Department of Labor and Industry leaders said Tuesday.

The department said applications were set to open on Wednesday and would run through July 22. Earlier this year lawmakers approved the $500 million plan to send out money to about 667,000 health care workers, meat packers, janitors, teachers and others who worked in person when the threat of contracting COVID-19 was the highest.

The funding will be determined once the 45-day application period closes and state officials verify that those who applied are eligible for a check. Department heads on Tuesday sought to remind applicants that their applications would not be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

"Remember, you don't have to be the first in line when the application opens," they said.

Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday told reporters that he had "high confidence" in the application system's ability to handle demand and teams were prepared to step in as needed.


“If there are glitches in the early hours, rest assured we are prepared to deal with that,” he said.

Each person's total will be contingent on how many people apply. Lawmakers estimated that front-line workers would get $750 each if all those who they thought were eligible applied. But that could grow up to a total of $1,500 for each person if the pool of applicants is smaller. Employers were required to notify current employees who could be eligible for the funds.

Workers whose applications are denied will have a 15-day window to appeal and following that process, the group of all eligible Minnesotans will be finalized and hero checks will be sent out in one wave.

Eligible employees would have had to work 120 hours between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021, and not have drawn down unemployment benefits for more than 20 weeks.

There would also be an income cap of $85,000 for individual filers who did not work directly with COVID-19 patients to be eligible. Those who worked with COVID-19 patients could receive the checks if they make $175,000 or less a year.

Department leaders urged workers to sign up for news about the application process at

Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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