How To File For Colorado Unemployment

This page provides information on how to file for unemployment in Colorado. If you lost your job or your hours were reduced at no fault of your own, you may qualify to receive unemployment benefits in your state. Review the information below, if you still have questions or issues about these benefits, then we suggest to contact your local Colorado Unemployment Department for assistance. It is important that you file your new claim right away because Colorado unemployment insurance are not retroactive.

In order to qualify for benefits, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own (for example a layoff, reduction in hours, or reduction in pay not related to performance). They will contact your previous employer(s) to help determine whether or not you may qualify.

Quitting Your Job

You have the right to leave a job for any reason at any time, but the circumstances of the separation will determine if and when you will receive benefits.

Discharged or Other Reasons

You may still be eligible for payment if you were discharged from your job. A partial list of qualifying separation reasons includes:

  • Hazardous working conditions
  • Domestic violence
  • Medical conditions
  • Personal harassment by the employer not related to the job performance

They will review the circumstances of your job separation to determine if you are eligible for benefits.

Legal Presence Requirements

Colorado law requires all persons 18 years and older to provide proof that they are lawfully present in the US before receiving unemployment benefits. You must provide one of the following forms of identification:

  • Valid Colorado driver's license or a valid Colorado ID card
  • US military ID card or a military dependent ID card
  • US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Valid driver's license or ID card issued by another state or Canada
  • US Passport

To go ahead and file your Colorado unemployment claim online, click here.

How are Colorado unemployment benefits are calculated

They will examine the separation from your most recent employer and any other employer(s) that you worked for during a predetermined 12-month period of time called the base period. You must have earned at least $2,500 in wages to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

Your actual benefits are based on the formula that results in the highest weekly amount. (The maximum weekly benefit amount may be adjusted annually, effective July 1 of each year for new claims filed after that date. The adjustment is based on current labor market conditions.)

First Formula

The first formula begins with the total wages paid for the highest two consecutive quarters in the base period. The total earnings for this six-month period is divided by 26 (the number of weeks in the six-month period). That number is then multiplied by 0.6 to determine your weekly benefit amount. According to Colorado law, this weekly benefit amount currently cannot exceed $542 per week, or be less than $25.

Second Formula

The second formula begins with the total wages paid in the 12-month base period and divides that total by 52 (the number of weeks in a year). That number is then divided by 2 to determine your weekly benefit amount. According to Colorado law, this weekly benefit amount currently cannot exceed $597 per week or be less than $25.

The maximum benefit amount per claim is equal to the lesser of 26 times the weekly benefit amount, or the sum of one third of the total wages in each quarter for the 12 months of the base period. In order to figure out how much your benefit amount is, they use the above formulas.

Colorado unemployment eligibility requirements

In order to qualify for benefits, you must:

  • Be unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Be able, available, and actively seeking work
  • Have earned $2,500 during your base period
Base Period

A base period is a time frame in which they review the amount of wages you earned to determine if you qualify for benefits. You must have earned $2,500 during a standard base period, which is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim. A calendar quarter is equal to 3 month segments of the year beginning in January.

Alternate Base Period

If you did not earn at least $2,500 during the standard base period, you may be eligible using an alternate base period (the last four completed calendar quarters before the start date of your claim). To request the alternate base period, follow the instructions on the Statement of Wages and Possible Benefits you receive after filing your claim.

Processing unemployment claim

Processing your claim can take four to six weeks to complete. After you file your claim, they request separation information from your previous employer(s), evaluate your previous wages, and review any additional income. When processing is complete, you will either receive your requested payment(s) or a Notice of Decision explaining why you will not receive a payment. You may appeal any decision you disagree with through an appeal process.

During this processing time frame, you may be sent notices regarding your claim, so check your mail and return any requests for information by the due date on the request. Additionally, they send you a personal identification number (PIN), which you must use to access unemployment benefits and services. It is your responsibility to keep your PIN in a safe and secure place. Do not share this PIN with anyone. If your PIN is used without your authorization, you may be liable.

You must request payment every two weeks and meet all eligibility requirements even while you wait for your claim to be processed. Your first request for payment will be on the Sunday immediately following the first two weeks of your claim. Request payment online through MyUI or by phone, 303-318-2800 (Denver-metro area) or 888-550-2800 (outside Denver-metro area).

Receiving Payment

There are two methods of receiving your unemployment benefit payments:

  • Direct Deposit
  • Prepaid Debit Card
Prepaid Debit Card

Everyone who signs up for unemployment benefits gets a debit card, also called a ReliaCard. You may be subject to debit card fees.

Direct Deposit

You can avoid debit card fees by having your benefit payments deposited directly to your checking or savings account through our payment method selection tool. You will need your social security number, unemployment insurance PIN, and bank account and routing number. To setup direct deposit, click here.

After filing your unemployment claim

You've already filed a claim for unemployment benefits. Next comes registrations, some paperwork, verification of information, and then a decision of your eligibility to receive benefit payments.

Register with a Workforce Center

You must register with your local workforce center prior to collecting benefits. To register, go to, a work-search website that can connect you to more than 10,000 job openings. You can also register in-person at any workforce center located throughout the state. They offer reemployment assistance, resume writing and interviewing help, and can review your job-search strategy for today's job market.

Verification of Personal Information

They send a request for Verification of Personal Information, which requires your signature verifying your identity, as well as affirming you are a US citizen or are legally present in the US. Failure to return this form could impact your claim for benefits.

Waiting Week

After your claim is processed and you qualify to receive benefits, the first payment you may receive is postponed by one week's worth of payment, called the waiting week. Basically, every claimant who qualifies for unemployment serves an unpaid waiting week that begins the first week they become eligible to receive benefits.

Benefit Year

Your claim lasts for one year. However, your unemployment benefits may be exhausted before the benefit year ends (most claims have approximately 26 weeks of benefits). After the benefit-year-end date, they cannot pay any more unemployment benefits, even if there is money left on the claim.


Your unemployment benefits are taxable by both the federal and state government. You can decide to have taxes automatically deducted from your payments or pay taxes later. While you are on unemployment, you may change the decision only once.

Colorado unemployment eligibility

While you are receiving benefit payments, you must maintain your eligibility. They may audit your records for up to two years from the start of your claim to assess you are meeting all of your eligibility requirements. In order to continue to receive benefit payments, you must remain eligible. You must:

  • Request payment every two weeks
  • Actively seek work and record your search on a work-search log
  • Be physically and mentally able to work
  • Be willing to accept suitable work
  • Be available to begin work immediately if a job is offered
  • Tell the truth when requesting benefits
  • Report all hours you worked and gross wages you earned each time you request payment. Even if it is one dollar earned or one hour worked, you must report it

File an appeal

Submit your appeal online through MyUI by viewing your Notice of Decision or use the form on the back of the Notice of Decision to write and submit an appeal statement. Include a clear explanation of what you disagree with and why you disagree with the Notice of Decision. Your appeal statement does not need to be lengthy, but it should include specific details about the reason you disagree with the decision. Attach additional pages if necessary.

Please make sure that the correct decision is attached to the appeal, and that the details, such as the identity of the employer and the name of the claimant match. Provide any address changes and interpreter information on the form. Sign and date your appeal. Put the claimant's name and social security number on each page. Mail your appeal to Unemployment Appeals Section, PO Box 8988, Denver, CO 80201-8988 or fax it to 303-318-9248. Mail your appeal, or fax it. Do not do both.

They must receive your appeal within 20 calendar days of the date mailed at the top of the Notice of Decision. This includes Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. If the 20th calendar day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date becomes the next business day. The postmark date of your appeal does not count. The process generally takes from four to six weeks from the time they receive your appeal until the time you receive a hearing officers decision.