CDLE: LWA payments will be disbursed before October

No fewer than 94,000 Colorado claimants for Lost Wage Assistance, a federal weekly $300 unemployment benefit boost, will have their payments processed tonight, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. 

That number is expected to grow throughout the day, said Jeff Fitzgerald, unemployment insurance director for CDLE. That adds to the 28,093 claimants who got LWA payments processed Thursday night totaling $23.7 million. 

Similar to when the CDLE system was slowed by a flurry of claims for regular unemployment insurance in March, “load challenges” affected the system this time, too. With a soft launch on Friday for applicants and officially launching Monday, web timeouts and other slowdowns resulted in a temporary system shutdown.

Thursday morning, the bumps were ironed out and 220,000 eligible users were notified through email to certify by phone or online, said Cher Haavind, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Labor. 

“As we experienced early on in the pandemic when folks were trying to apply for benefits, the system was simply overwhelmed and struggled to meet the demand for certifications,” Haavind said. 

Payments may take up to three days to process through banks and debit cards. The CDLE expects that 300,000 to 350,000 people will receive “some level of payment” under the new program.

The LWA program was implemented in August by the Trump administration as a part of COVID-19 assistance. Benefits are funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and last up to six weeks.

Haavind said that claimants will be asked to report their Social Security number and zip code. It must be the same zip code used when previously applying for unemployment benefits or the system will deny the request.

LWA benefits are retroactive, dating back to the week of July 26. CDLE is deploying two lump sum payments up to $900 each. This ensures equity of distribution, according to Haavind.

“We want to ensure that we have the greatest equity and distribution of these benefits, and that the greatest number of people can benefit from the program,” she said.

The retroactive payment for the first three weeks is being processed first. Next week, the CDLE will commence paying the weeks of Aug. 16 to Sept. 5. Certified recipients are expected to receive both payments before the end of the month.

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