MiLB Unemployment Help Starts Here
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice (more specifics at the bottom of the page).
September Update: Since the minor league season would have ended this week, it’s recommended you send a note to your state unemployment office stating this. A copy of a sample letter can be found here
Minor League baseball players who have had their seasons suspended are very likely eligible for state and federal unemployment insurance.
This page is designed to help Minor League players navigate that process.
More Than Baseball, in partnership with Our Baseball Life, is giving away over $500,000 in grants to MiLB players in need. Apply here.
MiLB Eligibility – New This Year
In short, we believe due to federal legislation passed this year for COVID-19:
- All MiLB players (released or under contract) are eligible for $600 per week starting March 31st through July 31st–or roughly $10,000.
- MiLB players drafted in 2018 or before are very likely eligible for additional weekly benefits.
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Advocates for Minor Leaguers
Our Baseball Life
More Than Baseball
Adopt a Minor Leaguer
Steps to Apply
Deciding Where to Apply
Use this framework for deciding where to apply (see note below for split-contract players):
- First – Choose the state where you played the most games last year.
- Example: if you played for Diamondbacks AAA (Reno), choose Nevada
- Example: if you played 60 games for Diamondbacks AAA (Reno) in 2019 and you also played 80 games for Diamondbacks AA (Jackson), choose Tennessee.
- Or, if you are told you are ineligible by Step 1 state –
- if you also played games in a second state last year, try that state next.
- Example: if you played for 80 games for Diamondbacks AAA (Reno) in 2019 but Nevada denies you, and you also played 60 games for Diamondbacks AA (Jackson), try Tennessee next.
- if you also played games in a second state last year, try that state next.
- Or, if you did not play games in a second state last year,
- Or if a second state where you played tells you that you are ineligible
- try the state where your MLB club is located.
- Example: if you played for played for Diamondbacks AAA (Reno), try Arizona.
- (if ineligible from above) – choose your home state
Note: For players on split contracts last year, your first choice should be the state where you earned the most money. Example: you played for both the Diamondbacks MLB affiliate and AAA affiliate last year, and you earned more money while in MLB. You would choose Arizona first.
Before You Apply
- Choose the correct state (see above)
- Download a copy of the letter that Commissioner Manfred sent suspending the minor league season (or download this copy).
- Collect the following information
- Your social security number
- Your current mailing address and county (where you live now)
- Your Driver’s License or state-issued ID number
- Your employment history
- The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all employers for the last 18 months, including the correct mailing address and telephone number for the most recent employer. TIP: use your farm director or coordinator’s name and information. For the address, use the team’s mailing address listed on their MLB page.
- The last day worked immediately prior to filing the UI claim. TIP: for all minor leaguers this year, it should be March 31 (the day Spring Training was suspended).
- Amount (before deductions) and date of any payment for severance, vacation, holiday or unused sick pay TIP: you likely have none, depending on your contract.
- The name and local number of your union hall, if applicable. TIP: you have none.
- Alien Registration Number, if applicable
Recently Drafted Athletes
Unemployment benefits are calculated off of a “base of pay”. If you were drafted in 2019 and had no other work, you might not qualify for benefits in your state.
- When asked for the reason for release, write “furloughed” or “released”.
- If you have been receiving a weekly payment from teams, list that payment as “general financial assistance to help with expenses” and not “wages for work earned”
What should I do if my claim is rejected or if the site says my estimated benefits are $0?
Do not give up. Some states have been rejecting normal unemployment claims and granting the $600/week federal application upon appeal. If you are rejected, you should be able to apply specifically for PUA after you receive your rejection notice.
There are multiple assistance programs under unemployment during COVID-19. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a federal program that assists people who are not normally eligible for unemployment.
The appeals process must be completed within 7-21 days, depending on the state and will take place mostly over the phone.
You are eligible, and a rejection is most likely a misunderstanding of your current employment status as a professional athlete.
Where To Apply
Am I eligible?
Yes! Even if you’re receiving $400 a week from your team. Those funds are not wages, but rather a stipend payment paid out by MLB to cover expenses. This should be specified in your application.
What programs am I eligible for?
There are two types of unemployment assistance active in the US.
First, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance supplements normal unemployment and was created with the passage of the CARES Act. It allows for any players who had their season stopped, suspended or were released to collect $600 per week until July 31st.
Second, there are normal unemployment benefits. Typically, minor league players are not eligible for benefits. However, because your contract has been suspended, you should now qualify. Also, most states have passed legislation due to COVID that may help you qualify.
You should apply for both, and you can do so through a state’s unemployment benefits website.
More Information on Unemployment
More Than Baseball Grant
Were you signed to a Minor League Contract as of March 1, 2020? You may be eligible for a grant from More Than Baseball.
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