Qualifying for Unemployment Benefits
Our agency will review your claim to determine if you qualify for benefits. We look at these three criteria:
1. How much did you work in the 18 months before filing a claim?
You must have earned at least $2,500 in wages during your “base period.” The base period is four of the last five calendar quarters before the start date of your claim. A calendar quarter is equal to 3-month segments of the year, beginning in January.
For example, if you file your claim in October 2024, the last five completed calendar quarters are:
[2023 - Q3] [2023 - Q4] [ 2024 - Q1] [2024 - Q2] [2024 - Q3]
This does not include the current quarter filed your claim because it has not yet been completed (October is at the beginning of the fourth quarter). The base period would be the third quarter of 2023 through the second quarter of 2024.
We will send a form called Notice of Wages and Possible Benefits that shows how much you earned in the base period and how much you may receive in benefits. If you did not earn at least $2,500 during the standard base period, you may be eligible to use an alternate base period if you earned wages during this period (the most recent four completed calendar quarters).
Some additional factors we consider while processing your claim include work in other states, federal civilian wages, and military wages.
Work in Other States
If you worked in or have wages in more than one state, you may choose to use these wages on your Colorado unemployment claim. In order to use the out-of-state wages on your claim, you must also have wages in Colorado during the base period. We will contact your previous employer(s) and that state to determine whether or not they are included in your claim based on Colorado’s law. If you have not already told us about your employment in another state, call the Customer Service Center at 303-318-9000 (Denver metro area) or 1-800-388-5515 (outside Denver-metro area) to add an employer to your claim. You may have overlapping claims in more than one state.
Federal Civilian Wages
The federal government does not report your wages to us, so we request your federal wages after you file for unemployment. Those wages are added to your claim after they are verified by the federal agency for which you worked, which means they may not appear on your first Notice of Wages and Possible Benefits. You must sign and return the Claimant’s Affidavit of Federal Civilian Service, Wages, and Reason for Separation and the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees forms. Also, include the following forms when you provide the information above: SF-8 and SF-50. These forms should have been provided to you when you separated from the Federal Employer. If these forms are not provided to the division, this could delay the processing of your claim. When the federal wages are added, you will receive a new Notice of Wages and Possible Benefits. If you have not already told us about your federal employment, call the Customer Service Center at 303-318-9000 or 1-800-388-5515 (outside Denver-metro area) to add this employer to your claim.
Your branch of service does not report your wages to us, which means those wages may not be reported on your first Notice of Wages and Possible Benefits. In order for the division to add wage information to your claim and prevent delays in processing, you must mail or fax a copy of your DD Form 214, Member 4 (this form does not need to be notarized). If you do not have a copy of your DD Form 214, you can request one online.
2. Why are you no longer working for your past employer?
The reason you are no longer employed helps determine whether you can receive UI benefits. In order to qualify for benefits, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own (for example, a layoff, reduction in hours, or reduction in pay not related to performance). We will contact your previous employer(s). Here are some examples of separation reasons that may qualify or disqualify you from receiving benefits.
You may receive benefits if you:
- Were laid off or your hours were reduced because your employer did not have enough work for you.
- Left your last job and can show it was for a good cause related to the job (such as unsafe working conditions).
- Are unemployed because you or your child were a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.
You may not receive benefits if you:
- Left your job for personal reasons unrelated to work.
- Were fired for misconduct.
- Are not legally authorized to work in the United States.
- Are self-employed full-time.
- Are currently receiving workers’ compensation for an on-the-job injury.
3. Are you able and available to work?
In order to qualify for UI benefits you must be:
- Actively looking for work (unless you are job or union-attached—see more info in the glossary page)
- Mentally and physically able to work
- Legally authorized to work in the United States
- Available to accept new work (for example, you do not have personal responsibilities that would prevent you from working)
Options for Receiving Payment
If you are eligible for UI benefits, you may receive your payment by:
- Direct Deposit – This option puts money directly into your checking account.
- Prepaid Debit Card – This option provides you with a prepaid debit card from U.S. Bank called ReliaCard. You can make purchases, get cash, and pay bills everywhere Visa® debit is accepted.
Visit the Payment page for more information about these payment options.