For many unemployed Coloradans – and other states too – their benefit year ends today, Saturday, March 13, 2021. I managed to get my husband into the system on Friday the 13th, when our live entertainment world had already started shutting down. At that point he had already done two early load-outs of shows, because corporations – especially international and nationaly touring – were already shuttering things. Before any government lockdown. I was so glad I got him in, because the Colorado unemployment system – and many other states across the country – was overwhelmed on Monday, March 15th. Short version – a LOT of people have just hit their one year mark in the system. This blog post will focus on how to do things specifically in the Colorado system; check your own state for variations.
Last night, the MyUI+ unemployment system went down for maintenance for a longer session than the usual 10p-3am dark time, in order to program for the recently-signed third federal stimulus. I pleasantly awoke to many of our 8000+ members of our Colorado Unemployment/PEUC/PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) Q&A Facebook group saying that their weeks were indeed added. Huzzah, one less stress.
- Recap of the Third Stimulus
- What Do I Do if My Benefit Year Expires?
- What is that Confusing Double Dip? (4/7: Follow up, it may even be turned off right now and not matter.)
- Yes, There are Still Some Glitches, if fewer
- BONUS: Theatre/Live Entertainment folx are still #standingby
Recap of the Third Stimulus
First, on the pandemic extension:
- The end date is listed in accounts as September 4, 2021; the federal bill states September 6, but this is the closest week-ending date for Colorado
- The extension is for up to 29 weeks, but most will get less than that as it does run out by the above mentioned date – this is how the federal bill is worded, not any screw up by CDLE; in our case it is 25 weeks of new benefits (March 14 to September 4) though the new balance does reflect 29 additional weeks (plus the one week we will request tomorrow from 2nd stimulus, for a total of 30 weeks as of today)
- EDIT: If you are in PEUC round ONE, you likely still have to wait for that first 13 weeks to hit a $0 balance, then PEUC2 weeks will be added; if you are UI and exhausting for the first time, wait for a $0 balance, then “Apply for Federal Extension Benefits” via the left navigation
- EDIT, 3/14: Per the Extended Benefits page of the MyUI+ Dashboard, “These additional weeks [For both PUA and PEUC] can only be paid out for benefit weeks after 3/13/21.”
- EDIT, 3/14: Some people (not all, and so far I haven’t figured out WHO sees this – I don’t) are getting a message that if you are on a pandemic extension you must now re-apply for standard benefits every three months to determine your eligibility; I’m not sure exactly what the timeframe is for each person either, as to who gets the message to do it when [EDIT 4/1 – it’s definitely for at least those on PUA: April 1 filing looks at a new base period from January to December 2020, then one in July will look at April 2020 to March 2021 and so on]
- The $300 FPUC (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) add-on will be given to anyone who makes at least $1 in unemployment benefits for a given week; this also has a September 6 date in the new bill – to be on the cautious side, let’s assume that’s also only until September 4 and be pleasantly surprised if one more week appears
- CORRECTION 3/15 – CDLE clarified that yes, Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) is mentioned in this stimulus after all; many states, including Colorado, have still not figured out how to program this extra $100/week for those who are in UI but also had $5000 net in 1099 work; it will only be in effect, back paid, starting December 27, 2020
- The first $10,200 of 2020 unemployment compensation is now not taxable – this equals the 17 weeks of $600 FPUC from the summer
- UPDATE 3/17: The IRS has adjusted their online form for this now; stay tuned to whatever method you use to see if their tax software is ready yet [No, Colorado STATE taxes won’t take this same deduction, as it occurred after the tax year was over]
- We don’t know if any bill will be created for 2021 FPUC, so assume it is taxable for now
- This did not account for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) $300 from the fall; it is still taxable, as is the one-time $375 Colorado Polis Stimulus (more on 1099Gs here)
- EDIT 3/17 – The new tax filing deadline is officially May 17.
- I’m personally intrigued to learn where things get finalized with COBRA subsidies, as my husband is on it now, and I lost my health insurance and went to an Affordable Care Act plan…would love to get my old insurance back
What Do I Do if My Benefit Year Expires?
EDIT 3/25 – I’ve added PUA info at the bottom of this section…
Funny you ask, because the short version is one of the Frequently Asked Questions in the new MyUI+ Dashboard. You can access it via a gray box at the bottom of the main CDLE website. I will say that the internal links of the dashboard occasionally change as they retitle them (it’s built in a Google site), so I’m going to only link the main page. Look in the navigation bar for other areas. As of this writing, here is their information:
“When your benefit year expires, you will be prompted through your MYUI+ account to file a new standard UI claim. If that claim is deemed ineligible by either lack of W2 wages or not meeting Double Dip requirements, MYUI+ will move you back to your expired claim to continue collecting benefits using the federal extension programs.”
We’ll get to Double Dip later. I just helped my husband do his today and I’ll walk you through what happened to us.
EDIT 3/22 I guess I need to spell this out……………..if your benefit year end is a week from now, or some other time in the future, you don’t have the option to do this yet! You do it when the option appears in your left hand navigation. And yes, your claim is “over” whichever of the following happens first: you hit your benefit year end date OR you hit a $0 balance. And if it’s a $0 balance and you’re on regular UI, then you file for a pandemic extension. I discuss in just a few paragraphs whether to do it the day it shows up or wait.
First – something I neglected to do – take a screenshot of what your home page currently says regarding balance, end date, and your program. You’ll want to be able to refer to it as there will be some confusion during this (explained later). In our case we also had four days to complete this application after starting to do it before we’d have to start over – doublecheck your own date – if you need to round up more answers.
In the left navigation of MyUI+, you likely now have the option, “Apply for Standard UI Benefits.”
Note, if your left navigation ever gives you this option, or “Apply for Pandemic Claim” or “Reopen Your Claim,” and you don’t have a chance to do a weekly certification when you should, this is likely why. Also check here if your account says it is Inactive.
EDIT 4/3 – Should I do it on Saturday when it appears, or wait?
First recommendation, in hindsight – find your copy of the claim you submitted a year ago, especially if you worked for multiple employers before, like a previously-employed union stagehand of live entertainment. You also need to know all the employers you worked for since October 2019 right now, as that is the beginning of your new base period. Likely, it is all already in the MyUI+ system, but you will need to verify they got it all. When I had to do this several weeks ago, I definitely had to add out-of-state income that Colorado can’t find as easily. New to the MyUI+ system, grab any 1099 Independent Contractor work you’ve done, too, if you earn both ways.
You will be asked if you have worked since the last time you said you did in the MyUI+ system. For my husband, that’s why this starts on March 15th, his last day of work; though he filed March 12th, he worked four mour hours we weren’t expecting that Sunday. Mine was later since I had worked and reported more recent wages.
Then it will ask you for the work you’ve done since your base period began.
Then you have to answer questions that will open up different new questions based on your answers.
In my husband’s case, on the next page it recognized four employers in the system, but I had to verify for each:
- Reasons you stopped working for your employers (in our case – laid off, then lack of work as a secondary answer)
- Employment start and end dates (luckily, I could copy these from that original claim, adjusting for the ONE additional date he worked after filing the first time)
- Rate of pay – hourly rate, hours worked per week, and whether overtime was received (since his overtime was rare, I just put no in general)
My section had a whole section for out of state employment because I had answered that way. As mentioned, when I did it, I also had to add employers it hadn’t recognized from another state, as well as 1099 compensation that hadn’t been recorded. We also had a fun wrinkle that one listed a DBA (Doing Business As) name that is the main name we had, and it was harder to verify, but hopefully this doesn’t apply to you. [Warning to Local 7 stagehands, the SMG one is confusing; it only lists one, not two…we finally just went with it and said, “sure, that’s the one…” as we knew ultimately he was going to get denied for Double Dip anyway. And I have our W2s to prove what we thought it meant as backup.]
After completing all of your new sections, review your answers. Take your own screenshot of this, and the confirmation notice after you have submitted your claim.
OKAY, HERE’S THE CONFUSING PART (or two)…
As you are doing this, all of your old pandemic extension information is going to disappear. Your past weekly certifications, your past determinations, all of it. Don’t panic. This is why I said to take a screenshot….
When you have finished submitting the new claim…
OPTION 1: It goes back to PEUC or PUA
In our case, and also for many others in my Facebook group, suddenly the pandemic extension did reappear. In my husband’s case in Basic Information it was back to Program Type: PEUC2, and all pending issues went to zero. It still had his benefit year ending as 3/13/2021, but his benefit amount went up, his past weekly certifications came back, and he’s now “Exhausted_Active.” [Edit: Soon after, and continuing now, he is “Expired_Active”. That means yes, he’s been through it a year, and yes, he’s still active in the system. And yes, his benefit year end is still the same old 2021 date; you can look in Issues & Determinations for any new ending dates – PEUC and PUA on 9/4, and the UI one in 2022.] We assume he’ll be able to claim tomorrow as normal (he did). As I mentioned above, the new balance for him is 29 weeks plus the one he will claim tomorrow from the 2nd stimulus. HOWEVER, it is set to expire September 4th, so he likely will only get 25 new weeks. Also, it managed to switch him to “preferred Electronic” for correspondence, and we prefer paper for him….not sure if we had changed it, or the system had, but I had to go back in and edit that back to US Mail by checking “no.”
EDIT 3/13 (yes, less than an hour later, based on questions): Do be prepared to be denied for Double Dip overnight or sometime in the next few days, but again don’t panic. [EDIT 3/14 – we haven’t received anything yet for my husband; when I did this process in January mine took 4 or 5 days to receive. EDIT 4/7 – see the section below that they may in fact have stopped looking at Double Dip momentarily.] The fact that many are already moved back to PEUC2 makes me think you’ll be just fine. And that’s the next section….You’re also likely to receive paperwork to verify they got the wages right. If it’s right, you don’t have to do anything with it...that’s when I can check on this silly SMG thing for my husband for one thing. And if you’re out of state, there will likely be several more back-and-forths to find those wages. Whee. We need a federal system.
EDIT 3/14 – See the Double Dip section next if you get approved for an amount that is lower than your previous weekly benefit, and the federal stimulus provision for that too. [Then again, log out and back in, or wait until the next day, to see if you go back to your old one.]
OPTION 2: You get a UI determination for the same or Higher as your previous PEUC rate
EDIT 3/29 – If your weekly benefit goes UP this time, then don’t worry if you get suddenly a LOWER balance. Take that balance and divide by the new weekly benefit to see how many weeks of UI you have. After that you would be eligible for PEUC but you likely don’t have the same number of weeks you had of PEUC in your balance. It’s also why UI is good for “up to” 26 weeks, as you likely won’t get all 26 weeks this time. After you hit $0, you’ll file for PEUC.
FYI for PUA people
EDIT 3/25 & 4/3 – For PUA people, you do now have to re-apply for Standard UI every three months, starting 4/1. Do it if the option is in your left navigation. This is a federal requirement; they want to check that you’re not eligible for any STATE money (UI) before putting you on FEDERAL money (PUA, and also PEUC). Here are some tips from someone else in my Facebook group:
You will say yes, you were employed in Colorado, then totally skip the wage/employer Section. It will take you to a questionnaire about self employment. Fill that out as if you were still able to work normal but in the additional comments section explain why you can’t anymore.
It will find you ineligible and then in your menu the option to apply for a federal extension will appear after you log out or maybe tomorrow. Fill that out and submit. You should be approved pretty quick and be able to request back pay to Dec 27 but you will not be paid until you do ID me.
DO NOT do anything with your correspondences that will come in.
What is that confusing Double Dip?
It too is one of the Frequently Asked Questions in the new MyUI+ Dashboard. As of this writing, here is their information:
“Double Dip refers to the employers and wages we are using to calculate a claimant’s weekly benefit amount. Once a claim expires, and a new claim is filed, we will look at a new base period to calculate a new weekly benefit amount. If there has not been at least $2,000 of new wages earned since the start date of the expired claim, then that claimant would be charging the same employer a second time, thus “Double Dipping” on that employer. In this scenario, the claimant does not meet Double Dip.
When a claim is filed, it is good for a full year before it expires. If a claim expires, and the claimant is still unemployed, they are able to file a new claim. If the claimant has not earned at least $2,000 in new wages since the file date of the original claim, then that claimant has not met Double Dip and does not qualify for a new claim.”
So – remember, this Double Dip thing is for NORMAL, non-pandemic determinations. If you hadn’t worked at all in the same year, they don’t want you asking for money twice from the same employer – that would be double-dipping. That said, the federal stimulus provides for people who would fail usually, and not be eligible for that UI claim, to then head over into a pandemic extension (or return to it, as is the case for most of us).
UPDATE 3/24 – someone in our Facebook group said a representative told them they have TURNED OFF the Double Dip requirement/ask for the moment, as it was causing too many issues. Frankly, this almost makes sense to me. My husband has not received his denial yet AND even if you are denied, you’re going to go back to PEUC at this point, unless your new UI claim is higher.
But what if you DID make more than $2000 in that time period? Have no fear, there is also wording to cover that – though occasionally it gets caught briefly in programming. The program is supposed to look at both your 2021 Weekly Benefit Amount and your 2020 one, and compare the difference. If the new one is lower by at least $25, then you are to be put at the 2020 rate as long as the federal stimulus is available. No, I don’t know what happens after September 4th, but hopefully our worlds are much better then. We’ve got months to figure that part out. Anyway, the programming is supposed to be in place. Give it a couple days to sort back and forth – without panicking, please – and then if it sits there wrong for longer, start following up with a phone call. (I recommend starting with your local Workforce, where they can do a “chat” with CDLE reps; and Wednesday-Friday, they can even do a three-way phone call. These are the real reps, unlike those in the beleagured conversion call center.)
EDIT 3/21 – I’m gonna try to clarify Double Dip again….Double dip is about the amount of money you have earned since you filed a year ago, ie March 2020 to now. It doesn’t matter if there are earnings they didn’t count in your base period (October 2019 to the day you filed in March 2020, as I write this PRIOR to April 1, 2021; if you’re thinking about a new benefit year after April 1, then your new base period starts January 2020). In a NORMAL non-pandemic time frame, if you haven’t earned at least $2000 since you filed a year ago, then they don’t want you double-dipping on the same employer that they already “charged” for your unemployment. THAT SAID, the stimulus wording has thought about this. You get DENIED for UI if you haven’t made $2000, and you can STAY on PEUC for most people (if eligible due to COVID, yada yada). MEANWHILE, if you DID make at least $2000 since then, you’d get a new UI determination. Obviously, this year it’s likely to be a MUCH LOWER weekly benefit amount. THEY THOUGHT OF THAT TOO. There is wording in the new stimulus that compares the new UI benefit with the old PEUC one, and if the new one is at least $25 lower, then they put you on PEUC again if it’s active and available, i.e, through September 2021. (I can’t tell you exactly how PUA fits into all of this with exact amounts needed, but it’s similar with the pandemic possibilities of extensions.)
EDIT 3/22, to put it ANOTHER way: Frankly, I wouldn’t worry about how they count it as Double Dip or not. The outcomes will be one of the following:
- It’s considered a valid UI claim, for an amount very close to your current weekly benefit, if not more.
- It’s considered a valid UI claim, but for a lower weekly benefit….but if that difference is more than $25, you’re put on PEUC at the old rate again.
- You’re considered as Double Dipping for not having made enough and NOT a valid UI claim…but if you are unemployed due to COVID, they put you on your old PEUC again
They’re trying to figure out whether you’re paid via state (UI) or federal (PEUC or PUA) money. The feds want to charge the state directly if they can, rather than using federal money, so they will check for UI first. And Double Dip is a process that was around pre-pandemic that must be gone through on the way there.
Yes, There are Still Some Glitches, if fewer
Would it surprise you if I told you this information, too, is in the new MyUI+ Dashboard? It’s in the page titled, “MyUI+ Health Check.”
They finally took my advice and at least moved the problem-children issues up to the TOP. They had listed the fixes first (with a green all-good icon), and if someone had a SIMILAR issue that said fixed, they would freak out and say, “Nuh-uh! I still have issues!” not realizing their glitch was in fact still listed later in yellow or red.
Briefly this week, my own Double Dip issue had moved from yellow (in process) to green (fixed). Later in the day, they realized it hadn’t worked for everyone, so it went back to yellow. I had this issue – I had not received any new payments as of my new benefit year. Thursday morning I did in fact receive back payment for all those missing weeks. Others have not yet. So, there is a chance that if you file for a new benefit year, you may fall into this glitch as well, but don’t panic yet. It’s being deployed in nightly batches as well.
See the Dashboard for any additional glitches.
There is also a whole backlog in ID.me verifications – part of it is because there are categories of triggers that fall into “egregious” categories, and ID.me can’t lift that hold alone. One of the more troubling to people is that it catches accounts that have more than one going to the same bank account. Even if you change it now, it will still read that they had been the same at one point. This takes a human to look at and verify, and there is a big ugly backup. I’m sorry.
Also, YES, it’s been a year………
One year ago, on March 13, 2021, my original Navigating Unemployment for Theatre Artists blog post (written February 2019, about what you need to gather to file for the first time) had 500 hits alone on that day as the live entertainment industry – and particularly theatre, noticably Broadway shut down. I offered my blog to every theatrical pandemic resource I could find. It’s now been a full year. We are still #standingby and we’ll be back. Here’s how some of us commemorated yesterday.
And then there was this fun one posted on Instagram by Rob McClure, that I just can’t figure out how to embed properly….