Today has been a busy day trying to sort out Colorado unemployment benefit issues.
Yesterday I became one of the moderators for the crowdsourced Facebook group Colorado Unemployment/PEUC/PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) Q&A.
Colorado has a double whammy in trying to get benefit changes to people right now.
- The Colorado Department of Labor & Employment told us a while ago - before the debate over whether the bill was actually going to be signed - that it would take some time for Colorado to implement any changes, due to waiting for federal guidelines, and then reprogramming the system. They warned us that it could be late January or early February until we saw retroactive money based on the 2nd stimulus bill.
- On top of that, they are finally updating their system to a new MyUI+ system. When the pandemic hit, Colorado (like many other states) was operating off a very outdated computer programming system called COBOL. They were on track to update it April 2020 but...they had to change their focus. To my understanding, the entire PUA system was built on this updated version, and is part of why there is such a different look to the MyUI (regular unemployment and its extension) login vs the PUA login. Well, as of this month, they're moving them all to this new MyUI+ system. But that means things have to go offline.
Only one full-time programmer maintained Colorado’s COBOL system before the novel coronavirus outbreak, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment told The Verge. “We are bringing another back to help for just the pandemic programming.”
This update means that means the system will go offline January 5-10 while they shift everything. The problem is a series of emails were sent out to SOME claimants (and not all) saying "you must file January 3rd" or "you must file between January 3 and January 5"...but some were sent to the wrong people, and certainly many were not clear. This morning I reached out to as many reporters and legislatures as I could. I've now been in contact with at least three reporters, and one got us a bit of progress today, including this article:
Colorado’s unemployment system slammed after email about jobless benefits is erroneously sent to many who are ineligible
The Colorado Department of Labor says the email “erroneously instructed” unemployed people to make a request for payment but not all were eligible. The note was intended to inform everyone about a computer upgrade and not about expiring or renewed federal benefits. - Read full article on the Colorado Sun. Thank you, Tamara Chuang! (And oh, yeah, I'm mentioned/quoted in it.)
The short version is that if people have already filed for weeks ending 12/26, the last week that the first round of stimulus benefits were available, there is no more filing to be done at this point. This means PUA, PEUC and SEB. (Regular UI filers, we're still trying to figure out your situation if you were between the two weeks in filing. See "Stay Tuned" later in the post.) After that, we wait for this new system to be up and running and await further instruction. We've been told to register in the new system January 10th. Some people - not me, but my husband! - even got an email that specified HOW to register.
From the email:
Once the MyUI+ system is live, you will need to SET A NEW PASSWORD for your account. Beginning on January 10, please visit ColoradoUI.gov to access the new MyUI+ system. There, you’ll enter your Social Security Number under “Existing Claimants” and then click “Forgot Password.” A temporary security code will be sent to your email address, which you’ll use to set a new password.
Meanwhile, after Tamara's article was published, many people (again, not me) received an email from CDLE that basically said "whoops, some of you got info that was wrong." That information will be included in full below, in italics.
This is an official communication from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Unemployment Insurance Division.
Some claimants who were receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits were directed to complete weekly filing on Sunday, January 3, 2021. These claimants were erroneously directed to file a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claim.
Because Colorado’s PUA system is currently closed to new applications, you will not be able to file a PUA claim at this time and do not need to take further action.
PUA Claimants (previously on PEUC)
Some claimants on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) received an email with directions to complete weekly filing on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Claimants with active PUA claims can still request payment for weeks up through 12/26/20 until 6pm on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. You will not be able to request payment for weeks beyond 12/26/2020 at this time.
The federal PEUC and PUA programs were established by the CARES Act in 2020 to provide unemployment benefits to those who exhausted regular state unemployment benefits. While the programs were originally scheduled to end by December 31, 2020, new legislation has extended these programs through March 13, 2021. However, Colorado’s PUA system is currently closed to new applications or for filing continued weeks beyond 12/26/20 as we review guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor and reprogram our systems in order to fully implement the program changes in the legislation.
We will communicate further instructions when more information is available. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.
We're not finished finding out what should happen to those on REGULAR unemployment who got notices saying it would close their claim. The article gives an updated deadline about filing by 6p January 5th, so I'm hoping we can get some answers tomorrow, the 4th. We definitely have several reporters fighting for our side. Also, many people went ahead and chose to "file early" with the threat that their claims would close. People had to make a judgment call on what to do. I'm hoping enough had to pick both sides of what to do that CDLE will have to acknowledge both decisions. We shall see. Thank your journalists that are stepping up. And I'll talk to two more tomorrow!
Check out more of my posts tagged Navigating Unemployment.