Colorado Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

Calendar Icon Updated March 25, 2020

Colorado Unemployment Eligibility, Explained

In the state of Colorado, unemployment insurance benefits are administered by The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).  Benefits may be available to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own, such as through a layoff, plant closure or other similar circumstances.

Employers pay into a fund that provides benefits to the unemployed.  Workers do not contribute to the fund.  If you meet all the Colorado unemployment requirements, you will receive benefits every two weeks until you become employed again.

The CDLE also staffs 50 workforce centers throughout the state, providing a variety of services such as job training, job search, resume preparation and interviewing skills, market research and other information at no cost to job seekers

How Unemployment Works in Colorado

and How to Get Unemployment in Colorado

  1. Apply for Colorado unemployment through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) as soon as you become unemployed. You can file online or through the Colorado unemployment phone number.
  2. After filing a Colorado unemployment application, you will receive an approval or rejection from CDLE. If you are approved, usually within four to six weeks, expect to wait one week — the standard waiting period — before benefits kick in.
  3. After seven days, you should begin receiving your first Colorado unemployment benefits. This will come in the form of a debit card.
  4. Be sure to request your benefits every two weeks to ensure that you continue receiving your allotted payment. Expect payments to be filled within two to three days of your request.
  5. Continue searching for new employment to continue receiving benefits. You must turn in this information every two weeks, for a maximum of 26 weeks.

Colorado Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to receive Colorado’s unemployment benefits, both on an initial basis and an ongoing basis, you must meet all requirements set forth by the CDLE.

  • You must have lost your job through no fault of your own.  This can be due to a layoff, a lack of work, a plant closure. You also meet Colorado unemployment qualifications  if you are still employed but have experienced a reduction in hours and meet certain minimum conditions.
  • If you quit your job, you may still be eligible for benefits if you left under certain circumstances, such as if you were being asked to perform illegal acts, or work in hazardous conditions.  You may also qualify for unemployment benefits in CO if you have experienced personal harassment by your employer not related to your job performance or you suffer from qualifying medical conditions.
  • You must have earned at least $2,500 in wages during your standard base period.  A standard base period is defined as the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you started your Colorado unemployment claim.  Calendar quarters are broken into three month segments beginning in January of each year.
  • If you did not earn at least $2,500 in wages during your base period, then you may be eligible to file a claim based on wages earned during an alternate base period.  The alternate base period is defined as the most recent four completed calendar quarters.
  • Other factors that may have an impact on your claim will include whether or not you received vacation pay, severance or pension payments; workers’ compensation payments, or if you worked in any other states during your base period.  If this happens, your benefits may be reduced or delayed and you will receive a Notice of Decision.
  • Federal civilian wages and military wages are not reported to the CDLE, which means that they may not be reported on your first Statement of Wages and Possible Benefits.  You must file appropriate paperwork and report those wages to CDLE so that they can be considered as part of your claim.  Failure to do so could constitute fraud and result in fines, penalties and other consequences.
  • You must register at the state’s job program Colorado Connects within 4 weeks of the start of your claim.  If you do not, you may lose your benefits.

How To File An Initial Claim or an Ongoing Claim in Colorado

Colorado law requires that all persons who are 18 years and older must provide proof that they are lawfully in the United States before they can begin drawing benefits.  Proof is required by providing at least one of the following forms of identification:

  • Colorado driver’s license or Colorado ID card
  • U.S. military ID card or military dependent ID card
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card
  • Native American tribal document
  • A driver’s license or ID card issued by another state or Canada

To file a Colorado unemployment claim, you will need to also have the following:

  1. Social Security number
  2. Home address
  3. Mailing address
  4. Telephone number
  5. A valid email address
  6. The reason why you lost your last job
  7. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need an Alien registration number
  8. If you were on active duty in the U.S. military in the past 18 months, you will need DD Form 214, Member 4
  9. If you worked for the federal government in the past 18 months, you will need Standard Form 8 and Standard Form 50.
  10. You will need all of your employment information for the past 18 months, including all contact information and dates worked
  11.  Any additional wages you have received from vacation, severance or other sources
  12. Other states where you have worked in the past 18 months.
  13. If you choose to have your payments made by direct deposit, you will also need to supply appropriate information for that option (bank name and address, account and routing number).

How Do I File a Colorado Unemployment Claim?

You can file an initial claim online here and set up a MyUI account.

You can also file a claim through the state’s File-a-Claim call center by calling a Colorado Unemployment number:
Denver Metro: 303-318-9000
Toll-Free: 1-800-388-5515

Spanish Denver Metro: 303-318-9333
Toll-Free: 1-866-422-0402

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TTD)
Denver Metro: 303-318-9016
Toll Free: 1-800-894-7730

This service is available Monday and Tuesday, 1 to 4 pm, and Wednesday and Thursday, from 8 am to noon and 1 to 4 pm.

If you need additional help, you can visit a Colorado unemployment office. There, a CDLE representative can help you with the application process, or answer any questions you have. To find a Colorado unemployment office location, visit our helpful guide.

After you submit an initial claim, CDLE will request separation information from your former employers, evaluate your previous wages and take into consideration any additional income you have received.  This process could take 4 to 6 weeks to complete.

When your claim is processed and you have obtained Colorado unemployment benefits eligibility, you will need to go through a waiting week, which means you will serve an unpaid week without benefits.  Every claimant is required to serve this week.

After you are approved for benefits, you will need to certify for benefits every two weeks.  You can request your payments every two weeks online through MyUI or by telephone 303-813-2800 or 1-888-550-2800 (outside Denver-metro area).  Your first request for payment will be on the Sunday immediately following the first two weeks of your claim.

In addition, you must register with a local workforce center within 4 weeks after your claim has started.  To register, go to or you can go to any one of the 50 workforce centers located throughout Colorado. If you have difficulty registering, or are confused about this step to receive Colorado unemployment, contact a CDLE office can ensure you do not miss benefits.

Colorado Unemployment Claims and Required Information

For some claims, the CDLE will send a request for Verification of Personal Information.  This will require a claimant’s signature affirming that they are a U.S. citizen or are legally present in the country.  This is an important document, and failing to return it in a timely manner could impact the timely delivery of your benefits.

If you file a claim Sunday through Wednesday, your claim will be effective the week you file. If you file a claim on Thursday through Saturday, your claim will be effective the following week.

Maintaining Your Colorado Unemployment Eligibility

To keep receiving benefits, you must meet all the requirements to maintain your eligibility.  Keeping records is an important part of this process, because you can be audited for up to two years from the start of your claim.

To maintain your eligibility, you must do the following:

  • Request benefits payments every two weeks
  • Be physically and mentally able to work
  • Be willing to accept suitable work and be available to start work immediately if a position is offered to you.
  • Report all hours and gross wages that you earned if you are still making a request for benefit payments.  Failure to do so could constitute fraud.
  • Register with your local workforce center or at Connecting Colorado within 4 weeks of filing your initial claim.

How Much Will I Get Paid? How Much Will My Colorado Unemployment Weekly Claims Be?

With a few exceptions, unemployment benefits in Colorado last for approximately 26 weeks within a benefit year.  If your benefits run out before the end of your benefit year, you cannot collect any additional benefits until a new benefit year can be established.

You are responsible for knowing when you are scheduled to request a payment.  If you request a payment either too early or too late, your claim will be closed and you will be required to reopen your claim before future benefits can be paid.

The CDLE has created a Benefits Estimator that allows you to enter your wage information into a UI benefits calculator. The calculator projects the weekly and maximum benefits amounts for both the current calendar quarter and the next calendar quarter.

You may be eligible to collect partial benefits if you worked less than 32 hours in a week, as long as the wages you earned are less than your Colorado unemployment weekly claim amount.

Colorado unemployment laws allow you to earn up to 25% of your weekly benefit amount and still be paid your full benefit amount.  After that, your Colorado unemployment amount is reduced by one dollar for every dollar that you earn.

It is important to note that self-employment and commission wages are considered income and you will need to report them when you request payment.  Not doing so could jeopardize your CO unemployment eligibility.

When and How Will I Be Paid My Colorado Unemployment Benefits?

If you are eligible for UI benefits, you will be paid by having funds deposited to a prepaid debit card called ReliaCard.  After your claim is processed, it may take 2 to 3 business days for the funds to be available from the time you submit your payment request.  Users have access to their funds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the debit card can be used anywhere that Visa debit cards are accepted.  Your debit card will be valid for three years so you will need to keep it on hand in case you are in a situation where Colorado unemployment claim filing is once again necessary.

If you do not want to be paid through a debit card, you have the option of having funds deposited directly into your own personal checking or savings account at any participating bank, savings and loan or credit union.  Many people prefer to use this method because it helps them to avoid debit fees.

You are eligible to receive Colorado unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. In some cases, you may qualify for a Colorado unemployment extension. This usually occurs in situations where the Colorado unemployment rate is high during economic downturn. Though, you should know that extensions occur on a case-by-case basis.

Looking For A Job While Collecting Colorado Unemployment Benefits

While you are collecting benefits, one of the most important requirements you must meet is to make a continued effort to look for work.  The CDLE takes various factors into account when determining if the work you are looking for is suitable for you or not.  This includes the rate of pay, prior experience, the length of your unemployment, commuting distance and other factors.

To begin your job search, you must register with a workforce center which you can do online or in person.  To maintain benefits eligibility, you will be assigned to make up to five contacts each week.  This center may adjust this figure going forward.

Part of your job search requirement is that you must document your efforts.  The CDLE can audit your records at any time for up to two years following the filing of your initial claim, so keeping detailed information about your search is essential.

For every job contact, you must keep a record of the following:

  • What action you took (submit an application, interview, etc.)
  • How you applied for the position (in person, online, etc.)
  • The type of work you were looking for
  • The person you contacted as well as their contact information
  • The outcome of your action

How To File Colorado Unemployment Appeals If Your Unemployment Claim Is Denied

If you receive a notice that your claim has been denied, you have the right to submit a written or an online appeal.

After CDLE receives your appeal, a hearing will be scheduled and you will be notified of the details by mail.  You can either participate in the hearing by telephone or in person.

Your appeal must be received by the same within 20 days after a decision has been mailed to you.  If the 20th calendar day falls on a weekend or a holiday, the due date of the appeal will be on the next business day.

While you are appealing your decision, it is important that you continue to file for benefits through MyUI or by telephone so that if your appeal is granted, you can collect benefits for those weeks.

To submit your appeal online, log in to MyUI and view your Notice of Decision or complete the form on the back of the mailed Notice of Decision.

Mail your appeal to:
Unemployment Appeals Section
PO Box 8988
Denver, CO 80201-8988

You can also fax your appeal to 303-318-9248 but make sure to include the front and the back of the form that you are required to fill out.

If you receive a hearing officer’s decision that you disagree with, you can file an additional appeal.  Directions on how to do this will be included in the Hearing Officer’s Decision letter that you will be mailed after your appeal is ruled upon.

Colorado Unemployment: Key Terms You Should Know

  • Base Period – The 52 week period used to determine what level of unemployment benefits you will be paid.  It is the first four of the last five completed quarters.  There is also an Alternate Base Period that is used if claimants do not meet minimum wage standards during their Base Period.  It is the last four completed quarters.
  • Benefit Week – This is the seven day period that starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday.
  • Benefit Year – The 52-week period that starts when you file an initial claim for benefits in Colorado.  The amount of benefits you can be paid is framed within this defined period of time.
  •  CDLE – The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment – It is the agency responsible for overseeing unemployment insurance benefits in the state. This Colorado unemployment department also provides job search and job training programs for those in need.
  • Connecting Colorado – This is the state of Colorado job training, job search and employment education program administered by CDLE.  Job seekers are required to register with Connecting Colorado as part of the benefits requirements.
  • Waiting Week – The first week of your Benefit Year is called the Waiting Week.  Even though you will not collect benefits for this week, you will still need to file a claim for benefits.
  • Weekly Benefit Amount – The amount of Colorado unemployment compensation you will be paid each week.  It is determined based on wages earned during your unemployment Base Period or in your Alternate Wage Period

Click Here for our Guide: 5 Things You Need to Know Before Filing Unemployment

For More Information On The Colorado Unemployment Program:

The Colorado Unemployment Insurance Benefits website is located here

Customer Service Center

303-318-9000 (metro Denver)

1-800-388-5515 (outside metro Denver)

303-318-9016 TDD (metro Denver)

1-800-894-7730 (outside metro Denver)

M-F, 8 am to 4 pm

Filing a CO Unemployment claim

You can file an initial claim online through the Colorado unemployment website.

You can also file a claim through the state’s File-a-Claim call center any of the following numbers:

Denver Metro: 303-318-9000
Toll-Free: 1-800-388-5515
Spanish Denver Metro: 303-318-9333
Toll-Free: 1-866-422-0402

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TTD)
Denver Metro: 303-318-9016 Toll Free: 1-800-894-7730

This service is available Monday and Tuesday, 1 to 4 pm, and Wednesday and Thursday, from 8 am to noon and 1 to 4 pm.

Managing a claim

Requesting Payment Every Two Weeks

MyUI Online (after you have a claim)

Denver Metro (303) 813-2800 Toll-Free (888) 550-2800

Unemployment Insurance Integrity

Detects employer and claimant fraud, establishes and collect overpayments, conduct employer audits, collect delinquent tax reports and taxes due, and conduct quality reviews of benefit payments for the citizens and employers of Colorado to ensure compliance with unemployment laws and regulations.

Benefit Payment Control: 303-318-9035
Toll Free 1-877-464-4622
Tips and Leads: 303-318-9035

Bret Colson

For more than a decade, he managed the city government public information and marketing activities for Anaheim, California, including an active role in the build-out of more than $5 billion in community and infrastructure improvements.  He also spent several years managing the public information function for an Orange County, California special district that served the needs of more than 1.6 million people, and has consulted for several local governments and private sector companies throughout the course of his career.

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