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A closed hair salon is pictured on a weekday afternoon along Federal Boulevard in Westminster on May 13, 2020. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

An issue that led to eligible Coloradans getting rejected for a $300 weekly unemployment bonus funded by the federal government has been fixed, confirmed Jeff Fitzgerald, director of unemployment insurance for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Fitzgerald said the  “unique circumstances” were discovered after monitoring complaints on social media over the weekend and questions from The Colorado Sun. It affected an unknown number of people.

“We’ve identified this subset that didn’t make the reference database of who is eligible,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve since added those folks to the database and we’re going to have a targeted communication that goes out to those individuals tonight to say, we understand that you probably tried this weekend and weren’t able to get through. So, please try again.”

The $300 is part of the Lost Wages Assistance program, a $44 billion program funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency under an executive order from President Donald Trump. Colorado qualified for six weeks of benefits and is paying it out in two lump sums of $900. State officials hope to complete payments by the end of the month.

About 220,000 Coloradans who were unemployed between July 26 and Sept. 5 and received at least $100 a week in unemployment benefits are eligible. They also must certify online that their unemployment is due to COVID. 

More: Unemployed and nearly homeless, jobless Coloradans are crying for help; state lifts hold on 6,000 cases.

Another 68,000 people also qualify for the $300 weekly bonus as gig workers who received federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance during the same six-week period. They don’t need to recertify their eligibility.

But the online system to certify people on regular unemployment was overwhelmed last week. As people visited coloradoui.gov and typed “Lost Wages” into the virtual assistant chat box, the system had intermittent outages. It was later rebooted, disabled and finally brought back late Thursday to certify people.

At least 170,000 people have certified for the supplement as of Monday, Fitzgerald said. At least 220,000 people on regular unemployment are eligible for as much as $1,800 for the six-week period. 

Those impacted by the recent issue should receive a new message to certify again Monday evening.

Tamara Chuang

Tamara writes about businesses, technology and the local economy for The Colorado Sun. She also writes the "What's Working" column, available as a free newsletter at coloradosun.com/getww. Contact her at cosun.com/heyww,...