DENVER – Colorado will start paying out the $300 a week Lost Wages Assistance benefit Friday for thousands of unemployed people who have already certified for the program, and even more people should start seeing payments early next week.
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment officials said Friday that they had sent the first payment file for the LWA program to banks Thursday night, which contained certifications for 28,000 people who will start receiving benefits as early as Friday.
The department is paying out the 6 weeks of benefits for people who qualify in two lump sums – meaning that people who are eligible for the added benefits who have certified they are unemployed due to COVID-19 will receive $900 if they are eligible for the first three weeks of the program, which apply to the weeks of July 26 through Aug. 15.
CDLE Deputy Executive Director said that in addition to the 28,000 payments sent to banks Thursday night, another 94,000 as of Friday morning had been certified and would be submitted Friday night.
Those people will likely start seeing the added benefits starting Monday, though exactly when claimants will start seeing the benefits will depend on whether they are using direct deposit or debit cards, and their financial institution, Haavind said.
With the LWA program, people who are eligible for at least $100 a week in regular unemployment benefits qualify if they can certify they are out of work because of COVID-19. For self-employed and gig workers receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, the certification for LWA is already built in to the PUA certification, as both require claimants to be unemployed due to COVID-19.
The CDLE soft-launched the certification process last Friday. Haavind said between 6,000 and 8,000 people certified for LWA over the weekend before the department sent out an email to the roughly 220,000 people receiving regular unemployment about the need to certify for the new benefit on Monday.
The department’s systems for the virtual assistant and the LWA certification struggled to keep up with the high demand, Haavind said, and the certification tool was taken down for a period of time Wednesday into late Thursday morning for fixes. Haavind said that about 34,000 people have certified since the fix was put in place Thursday.
The CDLE said that people trying to certify for LWA will have to use the correct Social Security Number and same ZIP code they used in their unemployment certification or the system will reject it.
Colorado can send out $553 million in LWA funds from the federal government for the six weeks of the program – effective from July 26 through Sept. 5.
The department said the first batch of payouts total $23.7 million so far, with more in the first round to be paid out.
The second round of payments of up to $900 for those who are eligible for the last three weeks of the program – weeks ending Aug. 21 through Sept. 5 – will start being sent out on Sept. 25, the department said. The CDLE hopes to have all the payments out to eligible Coloradans by the end of the month.
The LWA program can utilize up to $44 billion in FEMA disaster relief funding for all states and territories, per President Trump’s executive order.
People who are eligible for all six weeks of the program in Colorado can receive a maximum of $1,800. Officials that between 300,000 and 500,000 Coloradans would be eligible for the program – about 94% of claimants.