This article was last updated on January 16
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) manages the Unemployment Insurance Benefits program and has now started paying all the recently enacted enhanced unemployment programs in addition to extended state benefits as discussed below.
2021 Unemployment Program Extensions Under COVID Relief Bill
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment.
These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks (on top of any state funded extensions), covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to April 5th, 2021 (no new claims after March 14th, 2021). To receive FPUC benefits, you must be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA..
Update on Payment Status
[January 17th, 2021] The CDLE is only accepting and paying regular UI and EB benefits at this stage. Per their latest update that are still working on system updates for PUA, PEUC and the $300 FPUC. After that reprogramming is complete, claimants will be able to request payment for any back weeks owed. The CDLE will notify claimants when the system has been reprogrammed for the latest extensions. No action is needed for now. At this stage local media is reporting extended unemployment benefits won’t be paid until late January or early February.
Final guidelines on these programs and final eligibility including additional document verification procedures to combat Fraud have been issued by the Department of Labor and then have to be implemented by the state UI agency in their systems and programs. So this could delay the actual date of payments.
UI claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following general guidelines for the extensions:
- PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the new legislation.
- Claimants who will have additional weeks in UI and PUA or PEUC due to state provisions (where applicable) should watch their state agency UI portal or website for updates that will allow additional weeks to be filed (see potential scenarios where you need to take action to get benefits under the new extension)
- Claimants with weeks remaining in UI should continue to file weekly claims if their state UI systems have been updated for the extended coverage period.
- Claimants will receive retroactive payments for all weeks they are eligible.
- Claimants currently receiving benefits through the Extended Benefits program must finish all weeks of EB before receiving additional weeks of PEUC.
I will post additional details as they are released in coming days. So stay tuned for updates.
State Unemployment Stimulus
On October 28, 2020, Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order directing the Division of Unemployment Insurance to make one-time stimulus payment of $375 to eligible Coloradans experiencing economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Claimants who had a weekly benefit allowance between $25 and $500 for any week between March 15, 2020 to October 24, 2020 are eligible to receive the one-time stimulus payment.
Claimants do not need to contact the Division in order to determine their eligibility, and no action by claimants is necessary in order to receive this one-time payment. The CDLE will be directly contacting eligible claimants with more information. Payment processing will begin in early December and may occur in phases.
Extra $300 Unemployment under Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program
Colorado’s has finished paying the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplementary $300 per week unemployment to eligible claimants who were unemployed due to COVID-19. Claimants whose current weekly benefit amount (WBA) was at least $100 received the additional $300 per week retroactive to the week ending August 1, 2020. Claimants received $300 per week for each of the six weeks they were eligible (period beginning July 26 and ending September 5), for a maximum total additional benefit of $1,800. The CDLE began paying payments on Sep 18th (see latest LWA State tracker).
What do I need to do to get the $300 payment
You just need to complete the required one-time certification for LWA benefits on the CDLE page. Once you’ve completed the LWA certification, no other action is required, other than continuing to request payment as you normally would. PUA claimants have already completed such a certification and do not need to do so again. See more on the CDLE LWA Page.
LWA benefits will be paid separately from your normal unemployment benefits, and may take several days to process. If you are denied for any reason, or there are no remaining Lost Wages Assistance funds available, you will be notified.
The new Lost Wages program however does cut the federal benefit ($600 FPUC) in half since the state cannot afford to boost the benefit by the additional $100 state contribution requested by Trump.
CARES Act Unemployment Compensation Enhancements for Coronavirus / COVID-19 Relief
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, is the program that will provide unemployment benefits, up to 39 weeks, to those not ordinarily eligible for them. This includes gig workers, individuals who are self-employed or contract employees, those who cannot telework while obeying a shelter order, and even those who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits. It also includes workers who were directly impacted by COVID-19, such as needing to care for a child whose school is closed or a dependent who tested positive for COVID-19 (see worksheet). This benefit is retroactive to February 2, 2020.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, provides $600 per week to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs. This benefit begins March 29, 2020 and extends through July 25, 2020. This additional benefit does not require a claimant to take any action, is retroactive to March 29th and will begin hitting active claimants accounts as soon as next week for weeks of unemployment prior to April 15th. This program has now expired.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, provides for an additional 13 weeks of benefits beyond the standard maximum of 26 weeks for traditional (regular) unemployment benefits.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced effective Monday, April 20th, it will begin taking unemployment benefit applications under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), paying the additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits and launch other new points of access for unemployed workers to obtain information.
The Department stood up a brand new online application system to begin taking these claims under the CARES Act. By leveraging an existing system in development, Colorado will be among the first group of states to accept applications and pay benefits.
There are several provisions within the CARES Act that provide enhanced or extended unemployment benefits for workers. All of these new benefits are paid for by the federal government and eligible claims will be backdated so claimants will not lose out on benefits due to the waiting period to submit an application (see below).
New claims that fall under one of the new allowed situations for unemployment under the CARES Act will be taken through a new system. Claimants will submit claims, manage their benefits and request payment through this new online system.
This includes gig workers, independent contractors, self employed and those who are out of work because of a number of reasons directly related to COVID-19 including caring for a child whose school is closed or someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Regular unemployment benefits will continue to be processed through the existing systems so anyone currently on unemployment does not need to take any action.
A new 80-person remote call center will go live Monday, April 20th, to help manage claimant questions and overflow from the existing call center by addressing questions directly related to CARES Act benefits
Source – CO DOLE
Filing a Claim
All claims should be filed online using the following links
- File a Regular Claim – For traditional employees in the last 18 months whose employer took taxes from your paycheck.
- File a PUA Claim – If you were unemployed and in the last 18 months were self-employed and responsible to pay taxes on your income
You will need the following to file a claim:
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license or State ID number
- Your employment for the last 18 months including for each employer:
- Name, address, and phone number
- First and last day of work
- Gross earnings (before taxes are taken out) during the listed dates
- The reason for separation
- FEIN (this is found on any W2 or 1099 tax forms you have received)
- If you don’t have the FEIN, you can use employer details off of a recent paystub
- Claims filed without correctly reporting employers may experience delays. It is important to list the correct employment information when filing your claim. If you fail to do so, your benefits may be delayed while the missing employment information is obtained
By Phone – Colorado Division of Unemployment Insurance | 303-318-9000