DENVER — The first benefits paid in Colorado through the new federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program will be paid sometime Friday, according to an update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).
"We sent our first file to the bank last night," said Cher Haavind with CDLE. "Now about 28,000 claimants will receive a total of $24 million in the LWA benefits."
Another 94,000 claims are set of processing later Friday. It could take up to three business days for claimants to see those payments. Haavind also said they're paying the benefits six days a week and not on a weekly basis as with regular unemployment benefits.
Those who have already certified their eligibility will receive a lump sum as early Friday for up to $900, which would be for the first three weeks of the program. There will be a second lump sum which will cover the second half of the six-week program starting on Sept. 25.
Haavind said last Friday they did a "soft launch" of the new LWA program and said between six and 8,000 people certified over the weekend. On Monday an email went out alerting claimants of the need to certify for the additional benefit.
That prompted a surge in demand that the system could not handle.
"The system was simply overwhelmed and could not keep up with the demand," said Haavind.
She said Thursday morning they implemented a solution and said since then 34,000 people were able to certify. She said they believe they worked out all of the issues that were seen earlier in the week.
Between 325,000-350,000 Coloradans are eligible for the benefit payments which provide $300 per week, for up to six weeks. This benefit is retroactive, for claims dating back to the week of July 26.
The LWA program was created by President Trump’s administration after the previous, $600 per week federal pandemic benefit ended this summer. LWA benefits will last up to six weeks, with funding from FEMA.
For the third week in a row, initial unemployment claims were below 6,000, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) announced Thursday. The state's unemployment rate is now about half of what it was in April.
There were 5,025 regular claims filed during the week ending Sept. 12. Over the same time period, there were also 1,533 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed.
Since mid-March, a total of 553,618 regular unemployment initial claims have been filed and a grand total of 711,760 claims, including federal PUA benefits.
CDLE has paid nearly $5 billion in unemployment benefits since March 29. That amount includes regular unemployment benefits, those filing PUA claims, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and State Extended Benefits (SEB).
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