Colorado’s Unemployment Benefits Stalled for 3,000 Due to Fraud Checks

Colorado’s Unemployment Benefits Stalled for 3,000 Due to Fraud Checks

Despite Colorado’s current low unemployment rate of 3.5%, nearly 3,000 people may struggle to receive the unemployment benefits they require to stay afloat.

The state’s unemployment office says it must walk a narrow line to avoid paying fraudsters, which sometimes results in legitimate people’s applications being held up on a “program integrity hold.” These types of holds can only be examined and cleared by a specialist team of 19 persons who have gone through a rigorous security screening, which includes fingerprinting.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, approximately 2.5% of all Colorado unemployment claims are now pending due to program integrity holds. Out of the 114,400 active unemployment claims in the state, approximately 2,800 are still pending review. These figures are slightly better than those reported by CDLE last summer when more than 5,000 claims were held up.

While there may be fewer holds, some who are stuck in the waiting game believe the state should be doing far more to help. Jill Snider of Southeast Aurora had to wait more than a year for her $19,000 unemployment check due to an error on her claim papers made by a state employee.

“They filled out the form wrong and said that I was a man instead of a woman,” Snider went on to say. As a single mother caring for her parents, she has struggled to make ends meet. She tried phoning for assistance but was unable to get an answer from customer support regarding what she needed to do to resolve the issue.

“Nobody’s told me what’s going on, how it’s going, or why it’s happening,” she told me. “I’ve waited on hold for over four hours and then been told that the queue is full and I have to call back at another time… and when I have a handful of times gotten an actual human, all they’ve been able to tell me is, ‘it’s under review, we don’t have enough people to help us, we’re backlogged, and we’re not sure what’s going on.'”

After turning in ten different forms of evidence of identity, she’s still perplexed as to how no one noticed the error for a year. “There are times I’ve just thought that my file has slipped between filing cabinets and I’m never going to get my benefits,” she went on to say.

But 48 hours after CBS News Colorado inquired about her claim, the state gave her the full $19,000 she was owed. CDLE confirmed the holdup was caused by a staff member’s fault, although her case is “unusual.”

“I was quite relieved. “It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I couldn’t believe it,” she explained. “After all of this calling, writing, and waiting on hold, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, here it is, it’s finally happening.'” I said, ‘I had to get an investigative reporter from a news agency involved to get my benefits, and I’m honestly pretty furious and outraged, but also really grateful.'”

She claims the money will make a significant impact on her and her family. “There’s room to breathe. “I can pay some bills and not worry about how I’m going to pay for groceries,” she explained. “It’s night and day.”

When asked for advice for other claimants who are still struggling, Snider stated, “Don’t give up, keep calling, emailing, and writing, you know, don’t stop and keep trying to find out what’s going on.”

If you’re having difficulties with your unemployment claim, CBS News Colorado has learned that it’s best to phone customer support during off-peak hours — between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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