DENVER (KDVR) — It’s a rough start to the new year for Coloradans on new federal unemployment benefits signed into law late December, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
On Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) shut down its MyUI claimant system to transition to the new system, known as MyUI+, which officially launched Sunday.
“So far the system is meeting our expectations,” said Cher Haavind with CDLE. “We have had nearly 30,000 requests for payment which aligns with payment requests in our other systems prior to ‘go live’ of the new system.”
However, thousands of Coloradans leaning on benefits from the new COVID-19 federal relief fund could have to wait several more weeks until they’re able to request money and see it hit their bank accounts. The upgraded systems have not yet been reprogrammed to implement PUA and PEUC extensions.
“We finally received required federal guidance on Friday from the U.S. Department of Labor and now need to program our systems to begin paying those benefits,” said Haavind. “We hope now that we are live with the new system we can allocate resources to implementing those extensions.”
PUA and PEUC claimants who logged into the new MyUI+ system Sunday were told after reprogramming is complete, they can request payment for any back weeks owed and will be notified when the system has been officially reprogrammed.
“I can’t survive without this money,” said Mark Mercier after realizing he won’t be paid for several more weeks. “I go to put in my social security number, I get my password, I get on and then there’s no request payment button.”
CDLE has no specific date as to when the new system will be reprogrammed fully. Federal aid claimants like Mercier were told on the phone Sunday it could be late January or early February.
“These are my benefits, I worked hard my whole life,” said Mercier. “Now, in the beginning of the new year, they threw a rock at me.”
The new MyUI+ portal aims to improve customer service, quickly identifying issues with payments online so users don’t need to call a representative.
However on Sunday, staff answered approximately 4,500 calls. CDLE hired 400 new employees to help assist claimants in its call centers.