Coloradans still waiting for $600 boost in unemployment benefits

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Posted at 6:52 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 12:23:04-04

DENVER -- Frustration is growing for those who have just lost their jobs as they wait for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to implement the benefits covered by the CARES Act.

The law passed on March 27 paved the way for gig workers and freelancers to be eligible for unemployment for the first time and gave an additional $600 a week for anyone on unemployment due to the pandemic.

The delay is affecting an estimated 370,000 gig workers as well as the over 231,000 people who have filed unemployment in the last month.

Colorado didn’t receive federal guidance on implementing the new rules until a week later and since then has been creating a new online system to process the claims.

MORE: Another 104K Coloradans filed for unemployment last week; federal benefit system expected soon

According to CNN, 29 states have updated their systems and are now processing the expanded unemployment benefits.

“Some states have accepted the claim and the claim sat for several weeks,” Cher Haavind with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said. “We wanted to make sure we could process those claims. I hope to have more news on that tomorrow or the day after.”

The lack of a timeline has frustrated those trying to pay their bills.

“We live in a town that is very expensive,” Christian Rost, who lives near Salida, said. “Like everyone else having problems -- your rent, electric bill adds up.”

Rost said he was able to apply for unemployment benefits and receive his payment. But he has yet to get the $600 in pandemic unemployment assistance. He worked in the restaurant industry and lost his job along with so many others when Monarch Ski Resort closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It seems like if somebody can figure it out from Georgia or South Carolina, well, maybe we should ship those guys over here to help us,” Rost said.

The Department of Labor says Colorado is somewhere in the middle on the list of states rolling out pandemic unemployment assistance.

“A small group of states has been able to stand up pandemic unemployment assistance and pay benefits. I think Colorado will be one of few states to do both at the same time,” Haavind said.

The Department of Labor says they will roll out the $600 a week payments and their new online system for freelance unemployment claims at the same time.

That leaves people like Rost who aren’t gig workers waiting.

He wants a clear date on when he can expect payment.

“We need to move forward; we have to have some type of plan like any human being instead of waking up with a worry,” Rost said.