Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced today a state stimulus for the unemployed, as there has been no further movement on this from the federal government. (The Senate is adjourned until after the election.) According to the official press release, here are the key pieces of information.
- It is a one-time payment of $375
- It is anticipated to be released the first week of December [Note: While this coincides with the holiday season, I think our system will take that long to reprogram, too.]
- There are eligibility requirements: All Coloradans who were eligible to receive between $25 and $500 in weekly unemployment insurance benefits — including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and other programs — between March 15, 2020 and October 24, 2020, are eligible to receive the one-time payment [Note: If you qualified for more than $500 per week, you are NOT eligible. I'm sorry, I don't make the rules. In my household, one of us is eligible, the other is not. EDIT 10/29: I know, we wish it was for everyone. At least this time it includes the least-paid of us; the LWA earlier wasn't available to those making less than $100. Colorado's trying to do what it can to help the hardest hit, with the money they have. Also, there's a $52,000 figure going around, which I discuss more below - SPOILER - I think this is just a bad estimate on the part of some, and is not part of the actual executive order wording. Otherwise, both of us would be eligible.]
- Claimants do not need to contact the Department or take any other action in order to receive this one-time payment and all eligible claimants will receive an email or call from the Department
- Claimants are encouraged to log in to their benefits accounts and ensure that their address is up-to-date and their selected payment method - either direct deposit or Reliacard is correct
UPDATE 11/25 - You should have received an email if you are eligible, but you can also check via the Virtual Assistant at http://coloradoui.gov/. Type “Polis payment” in the blue chat window. You will need to provide your social security number and zip code.
UPDATE #2, 11/25: According to what a phone representative told someone else in the Colorado Unemployment/PEUC/PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) Q&A Facebook Group, in order to receive the stimulus check, you have to have a functioning unemployment account....so anybody who has a locked account will not be receiving the $375 Colorado Governor’s stimulus check, at least until they’ve gotten their account straightened out again.
There is another article on the Colorado.gov website, and it includes this Google Drive link to the actual Executive Order (not currently updated on the 2020 Executive Order webpage). This states it is to be processed by December 4th, unless otherwise approved in writing. You have to have received at least $1. In addition to the regular alphabet soup I've gotten used to, it includes UCFE (Federal Employees), STC (Short-Time Compensation), TRA (Trade Readjustment Allowance), and SEA (Self-Employment Assistant) programs. It also lists where the money is coming from. The funds are to remain available until December 31.
There is additional information from the Colorado Public Radio article on this stimulus:
"Polis said he’d consider another emergency payment if necessary, but that he is hopeful Congress will reach a compromise on a second relief package....The direct payments will cost Colorado $168 million, which is the amount of unspent money in the state’s emergency disaster reserve that could be freed up for this purpose, Polis said. He added that he wants to work with state lawmakers to come up with one-time investments to provide an economic stimulus in the state’s next budget."
Also, earlier this summer, many PUA gig workers were asked to repay an "overpayment." If you still had some of this left to pay that is being wiped clean. (However, if you did pay some of it back, you're not getting that refund.)
From the Colorado Sun article:
"The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment estimates that 65% of all unemployment claimants since March 15 will receive the payments. The aid is only expected to be given to people who are or were earning less than $52,000 a year." [Note, I've heard others say this IS the deciding factor. I think it's more of a way to estimate, and the ACTUAL criteria I'd use is from the official press release above.]
"The governor’s office says the payments will be funded by $148.9 million in unspent Medicaid dollars, $13.8 million from Colorado’s disaster emergency fund and $5.3 million from the state’s controlled maintenance trust fund. So much Medicaid money was available in Colorado because the state overestimated enrollment in the insurance program for low-income people. The state’s controlled maintenance trust fund is part of Colorado’s emergency funding reserves."
And a final note from me....
As a reminder, the federal PEUC (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) will currently expire at the end of this calendar year, whether your account says it's exhausted or not. Those on PUA are not eligible for any extension at this time. However, Coloradans (and many in other states) are eligible for State Extended Benefits (SEB). I'm already on this myself. I'll be working up a blog post soon with a step-by-step to file for PEUC in my state. The SEB is an automatic process in Colorado.
Hang in there everyone! Wear a mask, wash your hands, stay away from each other. (I know, I miss hugs, too.) I'd really like my industry to return. Live entertainment was among the first to shut down, and we'll be the last to return until we squash this virus.
Note, I do not work for any Department of Labor - I'm just another person who has navigated through many states' unemployment systems over the years between work as a freelance stage manager in the currently-under-employed live entertainment industry. I hope these posts can help others figure out how to fit in government boxes a little better.