Colorado to begin first phase of federal extended unemployment benefits rollout this weekend

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DENVER – Some Coloradans who have desperately been waiting for federal extended unemployment benefits to come online in the state will start seeing some relief this weekend and early next week, the state department of labor and employment said Thursday.

Cher Haavind, the deputy executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, said the department was emailing around 230,000 people starting on Thursday who might be eligible to reopen their federal claims to begin the process.

The email out to that group will include steps the claimants will need to take to start receiving the benefits next week. Haavind said that she expects the first group of people will be able to start reapplying for federal extended benefits on Monday.

Before then, those people will have to get into MyUI+ either by logging in to their existing account or by creating a new account, file for regular state unemployment benefits and be denied – which typically happens within 24 hours – before they can start receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extended benefits again. Federal law dictates that federal benefit recipients must again be denied standard state benefits before their federal benefits kick back in.

Haavind said after a person’s regular claim is denied, they should be able to go in Monday and reopen their old PUA and PEUC claims.

Colorado is also expected to start paying the $300 a week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit starting this Sunday to anyone receiving at least $1 a week in unemployment benefits of any kind. That benefit will be retroactive to Dec. 27 and run through March 14.

Last Friday, Haavind and CDLE Executive Director Joe Barela explained that there would be phased groups for the extended benefits rollout. The first phase – those who are receiving notifications and instructions starting today – will include people on the PUA and PEUC programs who had not exhausted their federal benefits when the CARES Act expired Dec. 26.

Phase 2 will include new PUA and PEUC claimants who exhausted their CARES Act benefits but who are eligible under the new federal extension. Haavind said last week the department would also be communicating directly with that group as well about the next steps.

CDLE officials said the phased rollout would allow the department to “provide benefits to the greatest number of claimants” as quickly as possible after weeks of delays as the state reprogrammed and upgraded to the MyUI+ system and worked to implement the federal extended benefits guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Denver7’s Jon Ewing contributed to this report.