For Immediate Release
Date: September 18, 2020
Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations - firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado Begins Paying Lost Wages Assistance Benefits
Most Unemployed Coloradans to Receive Additional $300/week in Federal Assistance
(DENVER) – Today the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced it has begun paying benefits under the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, a federally-funded unemployment benefit providing Coloradans with an additional $300/week for up to six weeks. President Trump announced the LWA program last month, authorizing FEMA to expend up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund.
Colorado has been awarded a total of $553 million in LWA funds, covering the six-week period beginning July 26 and ending September 5. Claimants will receive $300 per week for each of the six weeks they are eligible, for a maximum total additional benefit of $1,800.
Coloradans who received at least $100/week in regular unemployment benefits or other federal benefits — including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) — between July 26 and September 5 are eligible for LWA. The Department estimates approximately 300,000-350,000 Coloradans will be eligible (about 94% of claimants).
Regular UI claimants will need to complete a brief, one-time, federally-required certification confirming that their unemployment or partial unemployment is due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The certification process, which only takes a few minutes, is available now through the Virtual Assistant online at ColoradoUI.gov or by phone at 303-318-9000 or 1-800-388-5515. More than 58,000 regular UI claimants have already completed LWA certifications. PUA claimants have already completed such a certification and do not need to do so again.
Payment of the first three weeks of LWA benefits will begin on September 18, with the first batch of payouts totaling $23.7 million. Payments will continue to be made six days a week as more claimants complete the required certification. Payment of the final three weeks of LWA benefits will begin on September 25th.
Colorado was one of the first eight states to apply for the LWA program, and was previously among the first states to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) programs after the CARES Act was signed in April. The LWA program succeeds the similar FPUC program, which previously supplemented unemployment benefit payments by $600/week and expired in July. Colorado paid over $2.4 billion in FPUC benefits to approximately 560,000 claimants between April and July.
State of UI benefits in Colorado
Since March 29, nearly $5 Billion in state and federal unemployment benefits has been paid to approximately 714,000 Coloradans. Colorado has consistently paid benefits on more than 80% of initial claims filed and Colorado ranks in the top five states who have timely benefit payment (within 21 days), according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. The balance of claims filed awaiting payment are greatly due to an individual’s monetary eligibility and errors in claimants requesting benefit payments.
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