As a result of economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government established several additional benefit programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC). Per federal legislation, these programs expired on September 6, 2021.
By law, we cannot pay partial weeks, so the final week that benefits can be paid for these federal programs in Colorado is the week ending Saturday, September 4, 2021. Even if your claim displayed a balance remaining, no PUA, PEUC, MEUC, or FPUC benefits can be paid for any weeks after the week ending Saturday, September 4, 2021.
An additional 29 weeks of PUA, PEUC and FPUC benefits were made available with the passage of the American Rescue Plan in March of 2021. Claimants who exhausted their PUA or PEUC claims had the additional funding added to their claims automatically and can continue certifying for benefits through the week ending September 4, 2021.
The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) requires CDLE to continue to accept new PUA applications for 30 days after the program expires. We will backdate these new claims to the first eligible week during the Pandemic Assistance Period in accordance with all eligibility requirements. Payments on PUA claims filed during this 30 day period will be held until the claim is manually reviewed to confirm eligibility.
- What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?
The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was established by the CARES Act in 2020 to provide 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who would otherwise not be eligible for regular benefits, including those who are self-employed, independent contractors, or gig workers.
In order to qualify for PUA benefits, you must not be able to receive any type of unemployment benefit from any state. For example, those who are self-employed/business owners, independent contractors, 1099 and other gig-economy workers, and sole proprietors who do not pay unemployment premiums on their own income are generally not able to receive unemployment benefits. This is also true for employees of some nonprofit religious organizations that choose not to pay unemployment premiums.
PUA benefits are calculated based on your income from your most recent federal income tax return. The minimum weekly benefit amount is $223 and the maximum weekly benefit is $618.
The Continuing Assistance Act provided for up to 11 additional weeks of PUA eligibility, for a total of 50 weeks. These additional 11 weeks can only be paid out for benefit weeks after 12/27/20.
The American Rescue Plan further extended these benefits for an additional 29 weeks for a total of 79 weeks. These additional weeks can only be paid out for benefit weeks after 3/13/21 and through the week ending September 4, 2021.
- What is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)?
The federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program was established by the CARES Act in 2020 to provide an additional 13 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits for those who exhaust the standard 26 weeks.
The Continuing Assistance Act provided for up to an additional 11 weeks of PEUC eligibility, for a total of 24 weeks. These additional 11 weeks can only be paid out for benefit weeks after 12/27/20.
The American Rescue Plan further extended these benefits for an additional 29 weeks. These additional weeks can only be paid out through the week ending September 4, 2021. The PEUC program has now ended.
- What is Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)?
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program was established by the CARES Act in 2020 and provided an additional $600 weekly benefit to unemployment claimants for the weeks beginning March 29, 2020 and ending July 31, 2020.
The Continuing Assistance Act reestablished the FPUC program, and provides for an additional $300 weekly benefit to unemployment claimants for 11 weeks beginning December 26, 2020 and ending March 13, 2021.
The American Rescue Plan further extended the FPUC program and provides for an additional $300 weekly benefit to unemployment claimants through the week ending September 4, 2021. The FPUC program has now ended.
- What is Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)?
The Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program was established by the Continuing Assistance Act and provides for an additional $100 weekly benefit to regular state unemployment claimants who have also suffered a loss of self-employment income. To receive MEUC benefits, claimants must submit documentation of at least $5000 in self-employment earnings for the prior tax year. Anyone who received standard unemployment insurance benefits or PEUC benefits during the benefit weeks from 12/27/20 - 9/4/21 will be able to apply for the added MEUC benefit starting in mid August 2021. The MEUC back payments are expected to be issued starting in early September 2021.
- What are State Extended Benefits (SEB)?
Colorado law provides for the availability of up to 13 additional weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits, called State Extended Benefits (SEB), when the state’s insured unemployment rate exceeds five percent.
When available, SEB is added automatically for eligible claimants who have exhausted all other benefits. Learn more about SEB here.
- What happens if I exhaust all available benefits?
If you’ve exhausted your eligibility for unemployment benefits under all the available programs, there are a number of additional resources available through other state and local agencies, including programs to assist with rent, food, and medical expenses. For more information, please visit our Assistance Programs page.
- What happens during each quarter change?
If you are receiving federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefit, you do not need to file a new claim when you reach your Benefit Year End date. Instead, PUA recipients DO have to reapply for regular unemployment each quarter.
All claimants whose Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) claims have expired or passed their Benefit Year End date must also reapply each quarter. Affected claimants will need to reapply by selecting the “Apply for Standard UI benefits” in the navigation menu.
- Why was I able to request payment but my weeks were denied?
Weeks can be denied for a variety of reasons. Please remember that to receive payment of PUA benefits, a claimant must be unemployed as a direct result of the pandemic. It is important for each claimant to carefully read the questions being asked.
- If I successfully completed the ID.me process, why do I still have a program integrity hold?
There are instances where an individual could successfully complete the ID.me process but still have an egregious fraud hold on their claim. This means that despite the identity verification, there is activity on the claim that tells us it could still be fraudulent and requires further investigation. If further investigation is required, we will reach out to you with next steps.
- Why can’t I get through to the call center?
Our call center can be reached at 303-536-5615, Monday–Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some callers may experience longer-than-average hold times or even a busy signal. If you are unable to get through to our call center, please try again later. You can also find many answers and schedule a callback using the virtual assistant at ColoradoUI.gov. Visit our contact us page to make sure you are calling the correct number for your specific need.
- How should I answer the “I AM NO LONGER UNEMPLOYED as a result of COVID-19” question
In order to receive pandemic-related benefits, federal rules require claimants to affirm that they are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When completing your weekly certification, on the "Eligibility" screen, you are asked to check one or more COVID-related situations affecting you. The final checkbox reads "I AM NO LONGER UNEMPLOYED as a result of COVID-19 public health emergency." As noted in the instructions, you should only check the final box if none of the other options apply to you, and you are no longer unemployed.
Checking the final box will result in an automatic denial of benefits, as we cannot pay pandemic-related benefits unless you remain unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you accidentally check this box before submitting, you will receive a notice of decision in your correspondence which you can appeal.
What is wrong with my claim?
- Why was I able to request payment but my weeks are denied?
Weeks can be denied for a variety of reasons. Things to watch for when you are requesting payment:
- Per federal rules, to receive PUA benefits, you must be unemployed as a direct result of the pandemic.
- If you are not unemployed as a direct result of the pandemic, your weeks for PUA will be denied.
- Carefully read the questions being asked to be sure you are answering correctly.
- If you answer a question incorrectly, your weeks could be denied.
- Questions may sometimes change as a result of updated federal guidance. Read the question all the way to the end before answering.
- You must be physically and mentally able to work.
- If you are not, your weeks may be denied.
- You must be completing tasks or activities to help you return to work.
- If you are not, your weeks may be denied.
- Where is my notice to tell me why my weeks are denied?
Although weeks may show denied immediately, the system may take some time to complete the process to generate correspondence. New correspondence is generally available after 6 p.m.
- Why do I have a Program Integrity hold?
The pandemic, and the availability of new benefit programs, caused a substantial increase in fraudulent claims being filed. Fraudsters are filing unemployment claims using stolen identities obtained in various data breaches that occurred in recent years. To stop benefits from being paid to these fraudsters, we have implemented various measures to ensure that claims are legitimate and that the individual who is filing a claim and requesting payment is the individual named on the claim. In some cases, an identity verification is sufficient to resolve a program integrity hold, while other cases require additional investigation.