Welcome to the unemployment insurance portion of the rapid response workshop. This video will explain the unemployment insurance program, how to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, what to expect after you have applied, common mistakes to avoid, and other useful information.

Is there a safety net to replace lost wages? Fortunately, there is a safety net that may provide a temporary partial wage replacement if you are eligible. The program providing these benefits is called unemployment insurance. Unemployment insurance benefits are available to you because your employer paid into a fund from which you can draw benefits should you become unemployed through no fault of your own. Unemployment benefits will not replace your total income but are intended to bridge the financial gap for up to 26 weeks while you are between jobs.

Am I eligible for unemployment insurance benefits? Unlike many programs that provide a safety net eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits is not based on need or family income. To be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits you must have lost a job through no fault of your own, be physically and mentally able to work, available to accept or start working, and actively seeking work. You must have earned a minimum of 2,500 dollars in combined gross wages from all the employers for which you worked in the last 18 months. You must also demonstrate that you are legally present in the United States.

In order to receive unemployment insurance benefits, you will need to maintain your eligibility by continuing to seek work, record your work search activities, and request benefits payments every two weeks. You’re required to start meeting these eligibility requirements as soon as you submit your application for benefits. Work search activities may include job contacts and other activities that help you find suitable work. Suitable work is defined as a job that is consistent with your skills, educational background, rate of pay, distance you travel from your home to work, and hours of work. A sample work search activity log is provided in the unemployment guide located online at coloradoUI.gov. Some of you may be asked by the division of unemployment insurance to share your work search activities. If asked you must be able to provide proof that you are searching for work. Acceptable proof of work might include copies of job postings, emails, contacts made, proof of attendance at job fairs and other documents. Be sure to keep a record of your work search activity for at least two years after your benefit payments have stopped.

How do I apply for unemployment insurance benefits? Applying for unemployment insurance benefits also called “filing a claim” is a simple online process that takes about 30 minutes. You may file a claim as early as your last day of work. To file a claim, you will need the following information. Your social security number, current mailing address and your legal name as it appears on your social security card, an approved form of identification such as a driver’s license or other state issued photo ID or a passport your employment history for the last 18 months including employer names addresses and phone numbers from pay statements and documentation of payments received or to be received as a result of your separation such as pay statements or a termination letter from your employer

You can file an unemployment insurance claim online at coloradoUI.gov. The online application for benefits is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Filing a claim online can take 30 minutes or more so be sure you have the information you need available before you begin. It is important to know that you have not completed your claim for unemployment insurance benefits until you click on the submit button. Once you begin the claim filing process you must complete and submit it within 24 hours, or you will lose the information you have entered.

If you are filing a claim at your local workforce center, you can take advantage of the unemployment insurance chat feature to ask any questions that come up during the claim filing process. After you submit your application for benefits you will receive a confirmation number. We recommend that you print out the completed application for your records. Printing the application will not only provide you with the record of the answers you provided on the application, but it will also contain the confirmation number and the first date to request payment. If you are unable to apply for benefits online, you may apply by phone. If you’re calling from the Denver Metro area call 303-318-9000. If you’re outside of the Denver Metro area call 1-800-388-5515. If you speak a language other than English or Spanish or if you need an accommodation, please let the customer service center agent know so that arrangements can be made to accommodate you.

What happens after I submit my application for unemployment insurance benefits? After you submit your application for unemployment insurance benefits the division of unemployment insurance will review your application and contact all employers for which you worked in the past 18 months to obtain separation information. Your responsibility during the processing period is to maintain eligibility for benefits by continuing to search for work, documenting your work search activity and requesting payment of benefits every two weeks. It is also important that you respond to any questions that you receive by phone, email or mail from the division of unemployment insurance. Processing your claim can take four to six weeks and you should plan your finances accordingly.

Under current law the first week for which you are eligible for unemployment benefits is a week for which you were not paid. This is called the “waiting week”. If we find that you are entitled to benefits and you have met all of the requirements, you will receive payment for the payable weeks following your waiting week. The waiting week does not mean you must wait a week after you stopped working before you can apply unemployment insurance benefits. As a general rule you should apply for unemployment insurance benefits after you have completed your last day of work. Within a week of applying for unemployment insurance benefits you will receive several important forms from the division of unemployment insurance. Make sure that you read and respond to avoid delays in processing.

One form is the verification of personal information form. It is important that you view the form for accuracy, indicate any changes needed and sign and return the form as soon as possible. Another form is the statement of wages and possible benefits. This form shows the wages used to determine your benefit amount. If there are missing or incorrect wages the back of the form provides directions on correcting wages. The form only needs to be returned if a correction in wages is needed. You will also receive a personal identification number or “pin”. You will need the pin to create an account with my UI or to request payment by phone. To prevent fraud, you should never share your pin with anyone including the unemployment insurance customer service center.

How do I maintain eligibility to receive benefits? In order to collect unemployment insurance benefits, you must meet several requirements. The first requirement is that you get connected with your local workforce center as early as possible but within the first four weeks on your claim. To get connected register at connectingcolorado.com. You do not need to wait until your last day of work or until you have filed for unemployment insurance to take advantage of the wide array of career and training services available to you through Colorado’s workforce system. Using these services can help accelerate your re-employment. You may begin the process by registering at connectingcolorado.com or visiting a local workforce center. If you’re already working with a workforce center, make sure that your profile information is current. Once you have submitted your application for unemployment insurance benefits update the unemployment insurance status question in connectingcolorado to indicate you have filed an initial claim.

The second requirement is that you keep an accurate and up to date record of your work search activity and be ready to provide this information if asked. Be sure to keep this information for at least two years after your benefit payments have stopped.

The third requirement is that you must continue to request payment of benefits every two weeks. You can do this online at coloradoui.gov or by phone. If you fail to request payment if benefits within the specified timeline the system will assume you are back to work and no longer need benefits. We will discuss how to request payment later in this video presentation.

The fourth requirement is that you accept suitable work if it is offered.

How do I request payment of unemployment insurance benefits? You may request benefit payments online by using MYUI claimant at coloradoui.gov or by phone at 303-813-2800 or 1-888-550-2800. To avoid payment delays be sure to request payment within the time frames communicated to you in the unemployment guide located at coloradoui.gov. If you request benefits by phone you will not be speaking to a live person, instead you will be using an interactive voice response telephone system. Each time you request payment you’ll be requesting payment for the previous two-week period running from Sunday through Saturday. You will be asked several questions about your eligibility for each week you’re requesting payment. It is important that you respond to these questions honestly.

How much will I be paid? The amount of unemployed insurance benefits you may receive is determined by how much you were paid by the employers for which you worked during a specific 12-month period. This period is called the base period and is described in the unemployment guide located online at coloradoui.gov. To estimate the amount of benefits you may receive, there is an estimator tool located at coloradoui.gov that can help you estimate your benefit amount. In order to use the estimator, you will need your wage history for the past 18 months. Please remember that this is an estimate and your actual benefit amount is based on quarterly wages reported to us by your employers. Unemployment insurance benefits are capped at a maximum amount per week. At the conclusion of this video your facilitator will share with you the current maximum weekly benefit amount.

How will severance and other pay related to my separation affect my unemployment insurance benefits? You may receive other types pay from your employer related to your separation and beyond your normal earnings. The unemployment insurance program refers to these payments as “other pay”. The common types of other pay that you may receive from your employer are vacation that is accrued but unused, wages in lieu of notice, severance pay, bonuses related to the separation, and withdrawals from 401k plans. When you apply for unemployment insurance benefits you will be asked for the specifics of this other pay. Be sure to accurately report the gross amount of each payment, the type of payment and the date each was received.

The general rule regarding the impact of other pay on your claim is one week pay equals one week of postponement. If you receive other pay related to your separation such as severance, vacation or retention bonus or wages in lieu of notice these may cause a postponement of your benefits. If your benefits are postponed, you will receive a notice of decision that will explain in detail the effect on your benefits. You can apply for unemployment insurance as early as your last day of work.

Are unemployment insurance benefits taxable? Unemployment insurance benefits are taxable and must be reported on your federal and state income tax returns. You will be given the option to withhold taxes from your unemployment benefits at the time you apply. If you do not have taxes taken out of your benefit payment you may pay taxes at the end of the year when you file your income tax return. It is important to note you can only change your tax withholding option once during the life of your claim.

Will working affect my unemployment insurance benefit payments? You may have the opportunity to work while continuing to search for suitable work and collecting unemployment insurance benefits. If you work less than 32 hours per week and you earn less than the gross amount of your weekly unemployment insurance benefit amount you may still request a benefit payment for that week and receive partial benefits. The unemployment guide located at coloradoui.gov provides a detailed explanation about working part time. Receiving partial benefit payments does not impact the overall maximum benefit amount that you will receive, instead it potentially stretches the benefit over a longer period of time during the life of the claim. You may continue to meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance while working. You must be able to work, be available to accept work, be actively seeking work, record your work search activity, and report any income earned including tips when you request benefit payments. If your claim is based on full-time wages, you must still seek full-time work. If the job prevents you from meeting these requirements, then you may no longer be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. Be sure to report any wages earned and hours worked during the week they were earned and not when they were paid. If the wages earned are unknown at the time you’re requesting your benefit payment then you may estimate the amount of income and correct it later if needed. Any income earned may reduce the unemployment insurance benefit amount you receive during the week in which it is earned. There is a dollar for dollar impact on benefits after the 25 percent let’s look at an example. If your weekly benefit amount is 500 dollars than 25 percent of 500 is 125 dollars. Let’s say you earned 175 dollars in wages for the week in this case your benefit amount would be reduced by 50 dollars, which is 175 dollars minus 125 dollars. You must report all of your earnings and the system will calculate your weekly payment.

Will refusing work offered to me by an employer affect my unemployment insurance benefits? Refusing suitable work from an employer may have a negative impact on the payment of unemployed insurance benefits. Suitable work is defined as work that is consistent with your skills, rate of pay, and the distance you travel to work as well as the length of your unemployment. Be sure to apply only for work that you would accept if it were offered and report any job refusals to the unemployment insurance customer service center immediately.

Working with temporary agencies. If you work for a temporary agency and they send you on an assignment with a client, the temporary agency is your employer not the client where the work is performed. Therefore, when an assignment ends it is important to contact the temporary agency to give them an opportunity to find another assignment for you. If they do not have another suitable assignment available, you should contact the unemployment customer service center as they will need to process this information. Make sure that when working with a temporary agency that you know the contact requirements and keep notes on the date and method of contact. If you do not contact the temporary agency for additional work the unemployment insurance program may determine that you quit your employment with the temporary agency, which may have an impact on your claim. It is important to have a clear agreement with any temporary agency that addresses the salary you are willing to accept, the distance you are willing to travel to a job site, the type of work you are willing to accept and the days and hours you are willing to work. This will help prevent the agency from offering you assignments that you are not suitable for.

Will attending school affect my unemployment insurance benefits? Some of you may take this opportunity to obtain a professional certification or participate in training or work based learning opportunity in order to be more competitive in your job search. If training has been approved by your local workforce center your work search requirement may be lowered or waved entirely during the time, you’re in school. If you are not in an approved training or work based learning program you must ensure that attending school or receiving training does not interfere with your ability to seek and accept suitable work.

What common mistakes should I avoid to prevent delays in receiving my benefits? There are three common mistakes that people make that delay their unemployment benefits payment:
They do not request payment within the required time frame
They do not register with a workforce center
They do not return their required forms information such as the verification of personal information within the required time frame
Avoiding these common mistakes may prevent delays in processing your claim.

What payment options do I have? You may choose to receive your benefit payments on a debit card or through a direct deposit into a checking or savings account of your choice. Once you receive your pin you may switch your method of payment from the debit card to a direct deposit. Go to coloradoui.gov and select payment method. Regardless of the payment method you chose you will always receive a debit card. The card will arrive in the mail in a plain white envelope, be careful not to accidentally throw it away, instead keep the debit card with your unemployment insurance records for three years through the expiration date of the card. The debit card may be needed as a backup in case an issue comes up regarding your direct deposit or bank account number. If you did not keep your debit card from your previous or current application for benefits or if you have a debit card that is past its expiration date you may call the banks card member services for assistance. Let your facilitator know if you need the phone number. Please be aware that there may be transaction and other fees when you use a debit card.

Who should I contact if I have questions? If you have questions about the unemployment insurance program there are many resources available to you online at coloradoui.gov. You may also use the unemployment insurance chat feature available through your local workforce center to get answers to many unemployment insurance questions during the application process. It is important to note that the chat feature should not be used to apply for benefits. After reviewing the information online if you still have questions you may contact the customer service center at 303-318-9000. If you are outside of the Denver Metro area you may call 1-800-388-5515 during normal business hours.

This concludes our video presentation on unemployment insurance benefits. Your facilitator will now answer any questions you have and inform you of any changes that have occurred since this video was produced.