Next phase of expanded unemployment benefits begins in Colorado on Feb. 22

    BRIEF

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    Tens of thousands of out-of-work Coloradans whose federal unemployment benefits expired before Congress passed a last-minute extension in December will begin receiving payments again the week of Feb. 22, state officials announced Sunday.

    The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said that “Phase 2” of the rollout of extended unemployment benefits authorized by the Continued Assistance Act, the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package enacted in late December, will resume payments to claimants whose benefits were exhausted, as well as those who have filed a new claim since the bill’s passage.

    The 11-week extension included both regular unemployment insurance and expanded programs like Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which covers independent contractors and the self-employed. Benefits will be paid retroactively to the week ending Jan. 3, and include an additional $300-per-week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payment for all claimants.

    “The phased-in rollout of the program has been frustrating for many, however, our priority has been to get benefits in the hands of the most eligible claimants we could feasibly reach at one time,” CDLE executive director Joe Barela said in a statement. “We may have some kinks to work out, but our new, modernized cloud-based system will allow for much speedier implementation of future pandemic assistance legislation that we expect to come from the new administration.”