DENVER – Coloradans who are receiving unemployment benefits but who have not yet had to verify their identity through ID.me will have to do so this week before they can continue receiving payments, officials with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday.
Additionally, people who are hitting their one-year mark for unemployment benefits or who are on the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program will have to apply for standard benefits first before they can continue receiving benefits through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or PUA programs, the officials said.
The week of April 5, 2020, marked the first large surge in unemployment filings in Colorado after the initial stay-at-home order went into effect, and about 104,000 initial claims were filed that week. Since a claim lasts for one year, people who filed that week or before will have to apply for the standard benefits claim again before they could start receiving benefits.
People who are receiving PUA also have to file a standard benefits claim once every quarter to the state can be sure the claimant is not eligible for standard benefits in Colorado or any other state and can continue receiving PUA benefits, officials said.
CDLE Acting Unemployment Insurance Division Director Phil Spesshardt said the department had now rolled out the ID.me verification process to all claimants to continue to protect against fraud, which persists in Colorado and across the country. The state’s MyUI+ system now has 58 different fraud triggers.
The department emailed 68,000 people already this week to notify them of their need to go through ID.me if they want to continue receiving benefit payments after this Sunday.
But the CDLE said that the 68,000 people already contacted do not represent the full scope of people who may need to go through the process. Officials said the 68,000 represented the “largest single chunk” of people and that more would be notified in the coming weeks.
Officials also cautioned users that they need to have a government ID and a clear, well-lit selfie available for the multi-step ID.me process. Spesshardt also said that people have been wrongfully stopping the process after the ID upload step and need to fill out the full form lest they be rejected.
The officials said about 15% of people going through the self-guided ID.me process have been rejected and forced to go through a “trusted referee” process with the company itself in order to fix any issues.
But as more states adopt ID.me to protect against unemployment insurance fraud, the company’s call center has been swamped by long wait times and created a backlog – though Spesshardt said the company is hiring more staff.
People who will not have to go through the ID.me process include those already verified with the company, or people who have previously reported a fraudulent claim that has been closed.
Spesshardt said that the majority of people going through the ID.me process should be able to receive benefits within 24-48 hours. People will be able to certify their weeks claimed but unable to receive payment until that process is complete.
Those who do not have the technology to complete the process online can call 303-536-5615 for help from the CDLE.
CDLE Senior Economist Ryan Gedney said approximately 220,000 people filed continued claims for standard, PUA or PEUC benefits last week and paid out a total of $178 million in benefits, which has roughly been the case for much of March.
The state has now paid out nearly $8.5 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits since late March 2020.