The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) manages the Unemployment Insurance Benefits program, which includes payment and processing of the now expired federally funded enhanced unemployment programs in addition to extended state benefits as discussed below.
How Much Unemployment Can I Get Paid In Colorado?
With the expiry the pandemic unemployment programs, only traditional/regular state unemployment is available for full or partial unemployment claims. The table below provides key details on the latest unemployment benefits and qualifying wage requirements.
You will need to submit a claim or certify your application via the state’s unemployment website (see section below on filing a claim) to get your actual weekly benefit amount.
Note that to qualify for unemployment, your job or hours worked loss will generally need to be involuntary. I.e. through no fault of your own or via directly quitting. Your job and wages must also have been paid/covered by an employer or source that deducted unemployment insurance taxes per state law (see your paycheck).
Further if you are being paid severance via a layoff or able to use sick leave or paid vacation, you cannot claim unemployment. You can also only get benefits if you are unemployed or are working fewer than 32 hours a week.
You will also need to certify for benefits at regular intervals (weekly or bi-weekly), demonstrate ongoing work availability and evidence of job search requirements to keep getting weekly unemployment benefits.
|Maximum Weekly Unemployment (Min to Max)||$25 to $742. Actual WBA is around 55% of a persons average weekly wage over base period. There are two calculations of WBA in CO, one of which may limit your Max WBA to $675|
|Benefit Duration||Up to 26 weeks|
|Minimum Qualifying Income over Base Period||At least $2,500|
|Part-Time Income or Workers – UI benefits impact||You can earn up to 50% of your WBA and still be paid your full benefit payment. After that, a 1-1 dollar reduction of earned pay to weekly benefits|
Why is my weekly benefit payment lower than the maximum amount?
Your actual weekly benefit amount (WBA) is the amount of money your state agency has determined you and your dependents may receive for regular unemployment insurance after filing a claim. This can change weekly based on your certification or claim for benefits.
Your actual WBA is based on the amount that you earned (including tips) over the states pre-defined base or alternate wage period, which are generally based on four out of the last five completed calendar quarters spanning 12 to 18 months.
The higher your earnings, the higher your approved WBA will be, up to the maximum amount allowed in the state. All earnings must be subject to UI tax (covered employment) to be eligible for factoring into your benefit determination.
Any part time or temporary earnings from employment or other activities during eligible weeks you are claiming and certifying for benefits, will potentially reduce the amount of benefits you may get as shown in the table above.
Also note that that your state UI agency may deduct overpayments and court-ordered child support from your weekly payment. This will reduce your WBA.
What if I worked or lived in another state?
If you worked or lived in another state during the base year, you should file your unemployment benefits claim in the state you worked in and where your wages were reported. Not where you reside at the time of claim. You can file a claim in multiple states.
Your claim will be paid and governed by laws of that state in which you applied for. You will need to report this on your state and federal income taxes per form 1099-G issued by the state’s UI agency.
Claimants will also need to apply or reapply for UI benefits when they reach the end of their benefit year.
End of Federal Enhanced Benefits in Colorado (PUA, PEUC, $300 FPUC and $100 MEUC)
The CDLE has confirmed that claimants on the PEUC, PUA, MEUC and FPUC programs will file/certify for benefits for the last time covering the week ending September 4, 2021. Any active claims, with or without remaining balances, will expire after this date and any weeks after Sep 5th will NOT be paid.
While there has been a lot of discussion around extending pandemic unemployment benefits, the Biden administration has confirmed (see video) that states will have to use already allocated stimulus funding to expand or extend traditional state unemployment programs. State leaders and the CDLE have not indicated they are planning to do so at this stage, but I will post updates if things change.
Some claimants may be eligible for State Extended Benefits (SEB), but after September 4th all claimants must have a regular UI claim to continue receiving benefits. The state is also providing other return to work programs and financial assistance which you can find on the CDLE website.
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 CO CDLE Payment Status Extra 11-weeks and Ongoing Delays for PUA and PEUC Claimants
[Feb 23rd Update] Thousands of Coloradans are still waiting for their extended benefits (which they were eligible for from end of December, when the CAA COVID relief bill was passed.. While the CDLE has said they have completed the software upgrades and implemented the 11-week extensions (across 2 phases) news and social media reports – including the many comments on this article – confirm that things are not as smooth as the CDLE says.
Phase 2 which was recently implemented means most remaining claimants can now claim the 11-weeks and get retroactively paid for past weeks. They will have to reopen or file new claims now in MyUI+ as follows:
If you have not exhausted the PUA balance on your claim, just continue to request payment each week as you normally would. Once you exhaust your original 39 weeks of PUA benefits, MyUI+ will automatically add the additional 11 weeks to your claim
If you have exhausted the PUA balance on your claim, you should see an option to reopen your claim in MyUI+ beginning on Saturday, February 20 (if there are no holds or other issues on your claim). Your claim will be automatically backdated to 12/27/20 or to the Sunday following your last certified week, whichever is later. If you have not already done so, you may first need to apply for Standard UI benefits to ensure you are not eligible for regular state
If you were previously receiving PEUC prior to 12/26/20 but have been receiving PUA benefits since Phase 1 launched on February 1, you will be switched back to PEUC.
If you have not exhausted the PEUC balance on your claim, you do not need to take any action. MyUI+ will automatically add the additional 11 weeks.
If you have exhausted the PEUC balance on your claim, you should see an option to reopen your claim in MyUI+ beginning on Saturday, February 20 (if there are no holds or other issues on your claim). Your claim will be automatically backdated to 12/27/20 or to the Sunday following your last certified week, whichever is later
I will post additional details as they are released. So stay tuned for updates. You can also see this article for the new 24-week Biden Extension.
[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.
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