Wildfire unemployment benefits are now available in Colorado for employees and self-employed individuals.
Subsequently, employees and self-employed individuals who’ve lost their jobs or incomes as a direct result of the disasters, might be eligible to collect wildfire unemployment benefits in the form of Disaster Unemployment Assistance.
Those who were scheduled to begin work or self-employment, but were unable to do so as a direct result of the wildfires, might also be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The same goes for those who cannot reach their places of employment due to damage or who can’t work due to injury caused directly by the wildfires.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are federally funded and will become available as required. DUA benefits last for up to 26 weeks and are similar to those of standard state unemployment benefits. In order to collect DUA, you may not be eligible to collect standard state unemployment benefits or extended unemployment benefits.
To file an online claim for DUA (or standard state unemployment benefits), start by visiting the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE), which is commonly referred to as the Colorado Unemployment Office. If you don’t have an Internet connection readily available or if you prefer to file by phone, then file a claim by calling one of the following numbers.
Denver Metro (303) 318-9000
Toll-Free (800) 388-5515
Denver Metro (303) 318-9333
Toll-Free (866) 422-0402
Hearing Impaired (TTD)
Denver Metro (303) 318-9016
Toll Free (800) 894-7730
The window for filing a DUA claim is typically open for only 30 days after it becomes available, but it might be extended if damage is extremely severe. Regardless, you’ll have at least 21 days after you file to provide any supporting documents required, such as proof of previous employment; in other words, you may file first, prove later.
For information about other types of wildfire disaster assistance, such as obtaining food and shelter, see Apply for Assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). See also the Disaster Resources list below.
Beware of scams! Con artists often try to exploit disaster victims by charging bogus fees for filing DUA claims. Alternately or additionally, they attempt identity theft by asking for banking and other personal information as part of the “claim” process. Never pay a fee, as filing for state or federal unemployment benefits is always free. Never give out personal information to anyone but whom you know to be unemployment-office personnel, who will never ask for your banking and credit card account numbers. (They will, however, ask for your name, address, phone number, date of birth and Social Security number.) There are several other disaster recovery scams to avoid, too.
If you need legal assistance as a victim of the wildfire disaster or a related scam, some local lawyers volunteer to help victims by charging no fees (“pro bono”) or only small fees. A free lawyer referral service might be able to help you find such a lawyer, as might a non-profit Colorado legal-aid organization.
To look for a new job, start at the Job Search page here at EmployeeIssues.com.