Unemployment: Filing for Lost Wages Assistance in Colorado

[EDIT 10/20] The second round of Colorado payments has been released as well. If you are on PUA, you can log in to your payment section and see WHEN your payments will be released. (Put in a start date of August 1 - scroll to the right where it says "Additions" to look for $300 payments, then back to "Payment Date" for those rows.) 

If you are getting a notice that your claim is ineligible when you put in your Social Security and Zip Code - which hopefully they have fixed now - many people are having success going through the Spanish version with their PIN. Use Google Translate as needed. 

It is completely frustrating if it's not working, but you have until October 26th [updated deadline] to keep trying to get in. [UPDATE 10/20 - HOWEVER, "Dividing payments into two installments is meant to make the process as equitable as possible, so folks who are late to certifying will still get at least three weeks of bonus benefits. But it’s still first come, first served and the $553 million from the federal government is expected to run out. Those who are denied benefits or are too late will be notified." This link also states, "Payments are expected to take three business days from the request date. If you had technical issues and requested a callback, those are being moved to a separate queue and users should be called back within the week."

Best of luck to everyone. Feel free to join one of the Facebook groups for the latest information. I think the most useful one is Colorado PEUC/PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) Q&A

In order to receive the Lost Wages Assistance program (the $300/$400 Federal addition, explained more in a previous blog post or as listed on Colorado's website), one requirement is that your unemployment must be caused in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Colorado has just added a verification portion to their website, but so far has not TOLD anyone about it that I can see. (In fact, they previously listed you would not need to do anything extra to receive it.) I found out through the Colorado PEUC/PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) Q&A Facebook group.

UPDATE 9/15 - An email went out yesterday telling people about this new verification. The system apparently was overwhelmed and MANY people could not get through. We do have until October 3rd to verify, so you have some time to try again when it has calmed down.  Here's the top-of-the-webpage banner they put out September 15th (emphasis mine):

ALERT | 9.15.20
Due to high demand, we are currently experiencing some technical issues with our Virtual Assistant. We are actively working to resolve these issues. If you experience problems, please try again later in the day. Please do not schedule a callback related to Virtual Assistant issues; doing so will only cause delays for other Coloradans who need help. Please check back with this page for the latest updates.

If you are on PUA you do not need to verify this; they already know your unemployment is because of the pandemic (see the blue wording below that verifies this). I DID need to do it myself, as someone on PEUC extended benefits, and those on regular unemployment should check as well.

This is for those who were on unemployment from July 26th to September 5th (assuming Colorado gets approved for the final sixth week.

Verifying on the CO website | How do I know if I'm on PUA or another version of unemployment? | How many weeks is it? (Does it matter per state?) | What about other states?

You can visit Colorado's website for frequently asked questions on the LWA, as well as how to do it by phone. (Note, I've heard anecdotally that the Spanish version has not had issues in being overwhelmed.) As I went through it this morning via my PC computer, here are the steps I took.

Go to the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment website.

Look for the Virtual Assistant that pops up as a blue block. This may be easier to do on a computer than a phone, and for me was at the bottom right of the screen.

Click on it, and type in the letters "LWA" (for Lost Wages Assistance).

It then pops up an autobot that reads:

Screenshot reading: Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) is a federal program which provides an additional $300 per week benefit to eligible unemployment claimants. For more information, please visit www.coloradoui.gov/LWA. In order to receive these benefits, you must be eligible for least $100 in weekly unemployment compensation, and you must certify that your unemployment or partial unemployment is due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is one exception: if you are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, you do not need to complete a certification in order to receive LWA benefits. Do you want to begin the brief certification process now? It will only take a few minutes.

Answer Yes to move on...but make sure you have your PIN available. (PUA people don't need the PIN or to do this process, the sheer fact you're on PUA is because of the pandemic. For folx on regular (UI) and extended (PEUC) unemployment, the instructions I've read say to type in "Request PIN" into the virtual assistant to receive one by email. This used to not be possible online, and I'm not going to screw up mine by requesting a PIN as I know mine. UPDATE 9/17: It has been reported to me that sometimes you only need your Social Security Number and Zip Code - perhaps they changed this because so many were freaking out about not having a PIN! UPDATE 9/18 - some who had issues with SSN & Zip have had success in Spanish with SSN & PIN, even if they have to use Google Translate.)

The next question is:

In order to provide you with the information you requested, I need to authenticate you by getting your social security number and four digit PIN, do you want to continue?

UPDATE 9/17: The question has now changed to: In order to provide you with the information you requested, I need to authenticate you by getting your social security number and five digit zip code, do you want to continue?

Answer yes if so. You'll then be asked to provide then verify both your social security number and your PIN. (UPDATE 9/17 - or as mentioned above, perhaps your SSN and Zip Code instead of PIN)

After review, if appropriate, the message will say*:

Thank you. I've reviewed your account, and you may be eligible to receive Lost Wages Assistance benefits. First, I need to ask you whether or not your unemployment or partial unemployment is due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you answer yes, you may be eligible to receive these benefits, provided funding remains available. If you answer no, you will not be eligible to receive the Lost Wages Assistance benefits.
Now that I've explained that, is your unemployment or partial unemployment due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? Please type either 'yes' or 'no'.

If so, type yes.

Hopefully, your answer received is like mine:

Great. Thank you for completing the certification for Lost Wages Assistance benefits. You do not need to take any further action in order to receive these benefits, other than continuing to request payment as you normally would.
These benefits will be paid separately from your regular unemployment benefits and may take several days to process. If you are denied for any reason, or there are no remaining Lost Wages Assistance funds available, we will notify you.
Is there anything else I can help you with?

*If you have actually already filed successfully, the response will be:

You have already completed the certification for Lost Wages Assistance benefits. You do not need to take any further action in order to receive these benefits, other than continuing to request payment as you normally would. These benefits will be paid separately from your regular unemployment benefits and may take several days to process. If you are denied for any reason, or there are no remaining Lost Wages Assistance funds available, we will notify you. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Please note, if you have more than one person in your household who could qualify, I recommend using a separate browser for the next person. When I tried to do it for my husband, I didn't have a chance to put in another set of SSN/PIN. I was using Chrome for mine, so I switched to Microsoft Edge for his and it worked fine.

UPDATE 9/18: For some reason, even if you have taxes taken out of regular unemployment, some people are not having their taxes taken out of this. It is taxable income. Mine did come out, and for reference, the $600 deposited as $516 and the $300 as $258. Save back that money for tax time if they didn't!

Good luck filing! Please let me know if you find any discrepancies/corrections when you file.

How do I know if I'm on PUA or another unemployment system (Colorado specific)?

Refer to my previous blog post for full explanations of PUA vs UI, PEUC, LWA and other pandemic alphabet soup. The short version for this purpose (because PUA don't have to do it): PUA's were created so that 1099-filing gig workers could receive unemployment benefits for the first time. In Colorado, PUA has a completely separate login system from the others.

The regular system looks like this, and includes "MYUI" in the web address:

Screenshot of the Colorado Unemployment login for those on PUA
Clicking the image will go to Colorado's regular unemployment login webpage. Those who exhaust UI and are on PEUC will also use this login.

If you are on PUA, your login system looks like this, and includes "PUA" in the web address:

Screenshot of the PUA login system for Colorado
Clicking this picture will take you to Colorado's PUA unemployment login.

UPDATE 9/17 - I've been told there is also a red version of the PUA login.

How many weeks is the Lost Wages Assistance? Does it matter per state?

As for the LWA itself FEMA representative recently announced that all states and territories that filed (all but South Dakota, plus DC, Guam, and Virgin Islands did file) will receive the six weeks worth. [Colorado's website still lists just five at the moment.] After that, the funds are depleted. This means it is for the six weeks just after the $600 payments ended (July 25 or 26, depending on the state), and thus will all be back payments. There is also an online LWA tracker as to which states have paid or what estimated paydates are. Many of these also still list just five weeks, but from what I've heard eventually all but South Dakota will go to six.

UPDATE 9/15 re Colorado payment dates: I haven't found verification yet, but on a Facebook group a member stated that PUA money would be released September 17 (as no verification is required), and for those who verify, it will be 7 days after the date of verification. We are still waiting to see whether it is for the first three weeks worth in this first payment, or more. The official answer from the website is, "LWA benefits will be paid separately from your normal unemployment benefits, and may take several days to process. If you are denied for any reason, or there are no remaining Lost Wages Assistance funds available, we will notify you."

UPDATE 9/17 re Colorado payments: Today the 9News website states, "CDLE said payments will come in two lump sums: one paid later this week, and the second payment starting Sept. 25." A member of the Colorado PEUC/PUA Q&A Facebook group asked where they got the information, and the reporter replied that it came directly from the executive director of CDLE Cher Haavind.

UPDATE 9/18 - I personally have now received the first three weeks of Lost Wages Assistance to my direct deposit for both myself and my husband. I used the Virtual Assistant on September 12th. He is on regular unemployment, I'm on the PEUC extension. They came as separate deposts for each week, each person (we received six deposits total). If I login to my unemployment account, however, I still have the alert on the home screen about certifying if haven't already, and on the payment screen the wording is still there saying the $600 will not be reflected, and nothing whatsoever about $300 weeks.

The payments are being doled out, and I think it's based on when people certified. According to Channel 7, money for 28,000 people was sent to banks Thursday night, which was seen on Friday (like mine). Another 94,000 were sent Friday morning - we don't know how banking will do over the weekend. I had heard somewhere that it would be six days after filing for some; that certainly worked for my case. Again, applicants have until October 3rd to certify.

What about LWA in states besides Colorado?

Info I have on other states currently: Oregon, New York, and Tennessee sent an email to applicants if it wasn't already noted in their original claims (here's more how-to for Oregon); Arizona does not ask currently, Missouri it appears you need to check that yes your unemployment is due to COVID (see more below), for instance; it may be based on your original filing answering the same question. Again, PUA applicants have already answered this in their ability to get PUA in the first place, so don't need to answer again. As mentioned above, 49 states have filed for the LWA, as well as Washington, DC, Guam and the Virgin Islands. South Dakota did not file for it.

UPDATE 9/12 on Missouri Unemployment: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has notified Missouri that the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program is only payable for six weeks, from the week ending 8/1 through the week ending 9/5/20. The week ending 9/5/2020 is the last payable week for LWA. [This matches previous data I've seen about six weeks starting right after the $600 ended.] DES and its representatives are not able to alter any LWA eligibility requirements or extend the weeks that can be paid through this federal program. Any pending payments to eligible recipients will be paid retroactively as allowed by federal guidelines.

42 thoughts on “Unemployment: Filing for Lost Wages Assistance in Colorado”

  1. Hi there! I really appreciate this helpful guide – I’m a freelance wedding/event singer currently on PUA and I’d like to apply for LWA however I don’t know my pin or recall ever having received one. Do you know if there’s a way I can find out online? I tried asking the automated system on the unemployment website but it replied that I need to schedule a phone call and the next available appointment isn’t until October 29th! As far as I’m aware, all of my correspondence has been online and I haven’t received a physical piece of mail from them, so I’m hoping I didn’t miss my pin! Please advise if/when you have a moment. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hello back! PUA folx do not need to verify/apply for this, as the sheer fact you have PUA is because of the pandemic. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been able to get unemployment as a 1099 filer. If you ever filed regular employment (including now the extended PEUC benefits), those are the people who need to verify the “why.” From what I’m hearing from others, PUA may never have gotten a pin. That said, I’ve updated the post above to say that those needing a PIN can also request that through the Virtual Assitant (blue box).

  2. I requested the reset of my pin and now it won’t even let me do the certification. Just t gives me an option to ask for a callback and the closest time would be November 2. That won’t work for LWA. Ugh.

    1. The system was overwhelmed Monday night, as the email had just gone out. People have until October 3rd to verify. If you got the PIN okay, and the problem was just the verification that you’re unemployed due to COVID-19, try to find a time that not as many people are trying. You’ve still got some time.

    2. I did it in Spanish just to be able to get through. Used google translate for the parts I didnt understand. It took less than 2 minutes. Try it!

      1. I’ve heard of several completing it this way, both in person and online (some with Google translate, like you). Congrats for getting through.

    3. They’ve updated the system (though it still gets overwhelmed frequently) so that now you just need your social security number and your zip code, rather than a PIN, FYI.

  3. Hi. I’m on PEUC and am seeing a message saying, there is a problem
    With my claim that they’re unable to answer my question. Please setup a callback… the callback isn’t until Nov 25! This is frustrating. Anyone else seeing this message when you follow the prompts?

    1. The system was overloaded last night with so many trying to do it at once, due to the email going out. (I wrote this blog post two days earlier before they let people know!) You do have until October 3rd to certify, though the earlier you do it, you’ll likely get the money earlier. I would try again when the system may calm down.

    1. So, instead of LWI, you likely mean FPUC, the $600 addition (explanation here: http://www.erinjoyswank.com/peuc/).
      If you had UI – regular, standard employment – then yes, you need to verify, because it is asking you whether your unemployment is caused in part due to the pandemic. This is not elsewhere in your file already, likely. Same for those who exhausted their UI and are now on PEUC, the federal extension of weeks. Those who are on PUA, the one created for gig workers this year are the only ones who do NOT need to certify, as the pandemic is the entire reason they are actually able to receive unemployment this year. The system is overwhelmed at the moment, however, so they’re asking people to check back when less busy, and not worry about setting up a callback (which is into November at this point for appointments). Those on PUA are supposed to have the funds released September 17th. Those who certify are supposedly 7 days after certifying (certifying no later than October 3rd).

  4. They couldn’t verify me through the virtual chat. Had to set up a call back for November 5th. Does this mean I won’t be able to get it by the October 3 deadline?

    1. According to their Facebook post today, “Due to high demand, we are currently experiencing technical issues with the Lost Wages Assistance certification. We are actively working to resolve these issues. If you experience problems, please try again later today. It is not necessary to schedule a callback for these issues.” I will add this post to the blog.

      1. Do remember to CANCEL your callback as needed. Many people get their issues resolved and there’s such a wait for a callback for all of these appointments that are no longer needed either. You can do that through the virtual assistant too….if it’s not overwhelmed….

      2. I was able to get through on the VA. But it said there’s something up with my profile that they couldn’t complete it via VA and needed to schedule a call

  5. I was able to get through on the VA. But it said there’s something up with my profile that they couldn’t complete it via VA and needed to schedule a call.

    1. Some have also had success calling in to their Workforce Center to see if they can see what the issue is with your profile. Might be worth a try.

  6. I was on UI prior to the pandemic and I am currently on PEUC because no one wants to hire me for whatever reason (could be that they liked someone better or not hiring because of the pandemic). How do I answer the question, are you unemployed because of the pandemic?in my head, I am still unemployed because of the pandemic but do not know if the unemployment office would consider that to be the case. It is a very gray area kind of question regarding the “are you unemployed because of the pandemic?

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t feel qualified to answer that question. That’s a tough one. If you say yes, be prepared with a confident answer of why you said yes, should you be audited.

  7. I answered all questions VA to the last one as” yes” but did not receive the last response like your. Do you know what it mean ? Am I done with verification?

    1. I’m not sure what happens if you try twice, but I think I’d do it again to be safe. I went to check what happens if I was to try it again, but unfortunately the current response is, “The Lost Wages Assistance certification functionality is currently unavailable as we work to address intermittent service outages. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and expect functionality to be restored later today. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

    2. The Virtual Assistant is spotty, but somewhat working again. I went back to check mine and got a notice that “You have already completed the certification for Lost Wages Assistance benefits.” For ease of mind you might want to go back and check. Others in your situation found they had indeed filed, but it’s a good doublecheck now (especially if you try in an off-hour that’s not as busy).

  8. I am on regular UI but I got a letter that is in my account from my old employer and from unemployment stating I was laid off because of Covid. It was to prove that was the reason because I was Furloughed before than laid off. I didn’t get an email so I certified but it didn’t ask me if I was let go because of covid? Does that mean I didn’t need to? I have been on this since March. Im worried 😟

    1. I’m a little confused – you said you were certified. The whole certification IS to ask you “is your unemployment or partial unemployment due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?”

  9. I am on PEUC since July to present, and I was on PUA from March to July. I assume I have to certify, but when I do, I keep being told that either my social security number/Zip Code does not match what they have on file, or I don’t need to certify. I don’t know which one it is. My zip code is an out of state zip code but it is on all my records. So I don’t know if I need to certify or not. The virtual assistant won’t let me. Any ideas?

    1. If you were on PUA, the entire reason that was created was because of the pandemic, so they’re telling PUA people they do not have to file. I can’t be sure, but my guess is that you don’t need to certify. If so, you’ll also be one of the first paid. People have until October 3rd to certify and still receive the money. I know it’s awful to wait, but if I were you I’d keep an ear out for when people start receiving their money, and see if you get yours. If so, you’re PUA and fine. If you haven’t received it and it’s getting closer to October 3rd, then I’d try harder for an answer. Not a total idea, but a partial one for you.

        1. The problem turned out to be my zip code. (Maybe because it’s from a different state.) Facebook site suggested I apply in Spanish because it asks for a PIN. With the PIN, I was able to certify. Yay!

    2. I have been trying to get certified since Thursday and it still says that they can’t find me in the system. That they can’t find an eligible claim for my zip code
      but I have been receiving peuc every 2 weeks. I am getting so frustrated.

  10. I am currently eligible for CO UI and attempted to apply for LWA using the VA. I got through the SS and ZIP questions and received this response – “I’m sorry, but I can’t find an eligible claim matching the information you entered. Remember, if you have a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claim, you do not need to go through this process. If you are a regular unemployment claimant, please check your information and try again. If you have entered your information correctly, your claim may not be eligible for LWA benefits. For more information, visit https://cdle.colorado.gov/lwa” I checked my profile on MYUI and the VA information I entered is identical. Is there a way to determine the reason for the ineigibility or is the system so jammed again it can’t connect me with my CO UI claim?

    1. Unfortunately, many people are getting this. I do think there may be a glitch in the system, though if I put my info it goes through and tells me I already submitted. I’ve heard of one person who got this but still received payment. That said, if you have your PIN, I’ve heard of MANY people who did the certification in Spanish (even if they resorted to Google Translate) and were able to successfully complete it when the Zip Code version kicked them out. Good luck!

  11. My situation is very grey area. I feel that I would consider myself partially out of work due to my medical conditions and personally i want to be quarantined. I have asthma and a neurological disorder and I have been given steroids. i see my specialist doctor at the end of the month to ask if i should be quarantined. My PCP said because of my age most likely i wouldn’t get covid very badly but if a potential job offers a separate room for me to work in then that would be ideal, but he didn’t say you need to be quarantined because I’m young but i do have higher risks factors so now i don’t even know if i qualify or not, at the time i wasn’t on steroids when i saw my PCP. I saw a different specialist for the steroids and i didnt think to ask about quarantining at the time. Now i see another specialist at the end of the month to ask him if i should be in quarantined now that I’ve been injected steroids, asthma, and neurological disorder. I don’t want to fill out lost wages and then it come back that it didnt meet the requirements then me be in trouble. Oct 3rd is too soon of a deadline I’m stressing out. Also, i was on regular UI since July but i feel the pandemic and my health conditions have been an impediment to get a job that will accommodate me . any advice would be helpful

    1. As with someone else with a similar question, I do not feel qualified to completely answer this. You might call in to your workforce center for some advice. I’m just a fellow unemployed person who is trying to help others with the information I know. I’m not sure where things stand on the “not feeling comfortable to take a job” part of all of this, especially for someone with a medical condition. I would think it would be a factor in your unemployment, but I don’t know the rules for sure. They should be able to assist you with what you can turn down or not.

  12. I keep getting the same response. I am on CO UI since July 4 and receive over 100.00. I am a travel advisor and there is no work due to COVID. I should be eligible. Confused on what to do?

    1. Did you try the Spanish version trick? It’s the only thing I’ve seen working right now. Hopefully when people are back “in the office” Monday, they fix the error messages people are getting. Another option is to call your workforce center and see if they see any errors in the system, as they are a little less overwhelmed.

      1. Yes i tried in Spanish and the reply was :
        At this time, we cannot answer that question. Continue with another question, or schedule a callback with one of our experts. For a callback, type callback.

  13. I am having exact same issue, in English:
    “I’m sorry, but I can’t find an eligible claim matching the information you entered. Remember, if you have a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claim, you do not need to go through this process…”

    after SS# and Zip.

    In Spanish:
    “Unfortunately, I cannot answer your specific question at this time. You can continue with other questions or you can schedule a callback with one of our experts. Just type ‘callback’.”
    After SS# does not ever ask for PIN

    Really frustrating, all former co-workers have been able to go through process and some have gotten money already. A November 16, callback does have any value.

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