COVID-19 UPDATE: Because the coronavirus pandemic has left so many Americans jobless, the federal government has given states more flexibility in granting unemployment benefits. If you have questions about whether you’re eligible for unemployment benefits read our COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits and Insurance FAQ and check out Colorado's claimant handbook.
Colorado Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility
A guide to unemployment eligibility in Colorado
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’ll 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, resumé preparation, interviewing skills, market research, and other information at no cost to job seekers.
How do I file a Colorado unemployment claim?
You should apply for Colorado unemployment through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment as soon as you become unemployed.
- Gather your information. Before you apply, make sure you have all the necessary information in front of you for easy access:
- Social Security number
- Your home address, mailing address, telephone number, and a valid email address
- Addresses, telephone numbers, employment dates, reason for leaving, and any other contact information for employers from the past 18 months
- Any additional wages you have received from vacation pay, severance pay, or other sources
- Bank name, address, and account and routing number if you would like to use direct deposit
- An Alien Registration number if you aren’t a US citizen
- A DD Form 214, Member 4, if you were on active duty in the US military in the past 18 months
- A Standard Form 8 and Standard Form 50 if you worked for the federal government in the past 18 months
- Submit your claim. You can file online by creating a MyUI account. You can also file by phone through the Colorado unemployment phone number:
- 303-318-9000 (metro Denver)
- 1-800-388-5515 (outside metro Denver)
- Wait for approval. After filing a Colorado unemployment application, you will receive an approval or rejection from CDLE.
- Continue to send in claims. Be sure to request your benefits every two weeks to ensure that you continue receiving your allotted payment.
- Search for new employment. To continue receiving benefits, you must turn in job search information every two weeks for as long as you’re eligible for benefits.
- File an appeal if your claim is rejected. If your unemployment request is denied, you have the right to request an appeal to review your claim if you believe you should have been approved.
Where do I submit my unemployment claim in Colorado?
Log in to your MyUI account to file or certify your claim. You must file on an assigned day based on the first letter of your last name.
- Last names that start with A–M: File your claim on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, or after 12 p.m. on Saturday
- Last names that start with N–Z: File your claim on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or before 12 p.m. on Saturday
You can find more information about unemployment benefits on the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website.
The unemployment benefits customer service center can assist with questions about your claim.
If your last name begins with letters A–M, call the following numbers on Tuesday or Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or on Saturday between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. If your last name begins with a letter from N to Z, call on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- 303-318-9000 (metro Denver)
- 1-800-388-5515 (outside metro Denver)
For TDD, use the following numbers:
- 303-318-9016 (metro Denver)
- 1-800-894-7730 (outside metro Denver)
For assistance in Spanish, use these numbers:
- 303-318-9333 (metro Denver)
- 866-422-0402 (outside metro Denver)
To request payment every two weeks, call these numbers:
- 303-813-2800 (metro Denver)
- 888-550-2800 (if outside metro Denver)
If you have questions about an appeal, call 303-318-9299 (or toll-free at 800-405-2338).
How unemployment works in Colorado
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.
For some claims, the CDLE will ask for Verification of Personal Information. This request requires your signature affirming that you’re a US 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.
You may also be asked to provide proof that you lawfully reside in the US. You can provide at least one of the following forms of identification:
- Colorado driver’s license or Colorado ID card
- US military ID card or military dependent ID card
- US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card
- Native American tribal document
- A driver’s license or ID card issued by another state or Canada
After you’re approved for benefits
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’ll have an unpaid week without benefits. However, Colorado is temporarily waiving the waiting week due to COVID-19.
Next, you’ll need to certify for benefits every two weeks you wish to claim unemployment. These biweekly certifications can be done through your MyUI account or over the phone. Your first request for payment will be on the Sunday immediately following the first two weeks of your claim.
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.
In addition to submitting your claims, you must register with a local workforce center within four weeks of your initial claim. To register, go to www.connectingcolorado.com or visit any one of the 50 workforce centers located throughout Colorado. If you have difficulty registering, or have questions about Colorado unemployment, contact a CDLE office to ensure you do not miss benefits.
Note: Colorado has temporarily suspended the job-search requirement due to COVID-19—however, you still have to register for work.
What are Colorado’s 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, or a plant closure. You must also meet Colorado unemployment qualifications if you’re 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 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 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 pay, pension payments, or workers’ compensation payments. It could also impact your claim if you worked in any other states during your base period. If any of these situations took place, 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 four weeks of the start of your claim. If you do not, you may lose your benefits.
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’re 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 four weeks of filing your initial claim.
How much will I get paid?
The CDLE has created a Benefits Estimator that allows you to enter your wage information into a benefits calculator. The calculator projects the weekly and maximum benefits amounts for both the current calendar quarter and the next calendar quarter. The maximum weekly benefit in Colorado is $618. The minimum is $25.
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.
With a few exceptions, unemployment benefits in Colorado last for approximately 26 weeks within a benefit year—plus any additional time allowed under federal unemployment programs. Any extensions usually occur when the Colorado unemployment rate is high during an economic downturn. Though, you should know that extensions occur on a case-by-case basis.
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’re responsible for knowing when you’re 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.
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 my Colorado unemployment benefits be paid?
If you’re eligible for UI benefits, you will be paid by having funds deposited to a prepaid debit card from US Bank or into your elected bank account. 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’ll need to keep it on hand in case you need to file another unemployment claim in Colorado during that time.
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 avoid debit fees.
Do I have to look for a job while collecting Colorado unemployment benefits?
Colorado has temporarily suspended the requirement to look for work due to COVID-19.
Under normal circumstances, though, 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’re 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, though a workforce center may adjust this number depending on your circumstances.
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 do I file an appeal if my 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.
To submit an appeal online, use your MyUI account. You can also mail your appeal to this address:
Unemployment Appeals Section
PO Box 8988
Denver, CO 80201-8988
Or fax your appeal to 303-318-9248—but make sure to include the front and the back of the form that you’re required to fill out.
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.
You’ll have roughly 20 days to file an appeal from when your denial is mailed out.
Once you submit your appeal, continue to file claims for your unemployment benefits. If your rejection is overturned, you will only receive benefits for the weeks during the appeal if you filed for them.
If your appeal is denied and you still feel you’re eligible for unemployment benefits, you can file an additional appeal. Call one of these numbers if you have questions about your appeal:
- or toll-free at 800-405-2338