DENVER (CBS4)– Cherie Ripley is one of 289,000 Coloradans who have received an email with instructions for phase two of the unemployment benefits rollout. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced Thursday they’d start phase two a few days ahead of schedule on Saturday, Feb. 20.

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“It just really gave us hope,” Ripley told CBS4’s Andrea Flores. “I received my email Tuesday evening and the majority of us should be able to log in on Saturday as early as 3 a.m.”

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Ripley is cautiously optimistic. She says she hasn’t received a payment since late November.

“There are a lot of people with phase one that have still not been paid out, and so now we’re going into phase two with phase one people still having issues,” said Ripley. “It makes us wonder, ‘How many glitches are there going to be? How many denials or unanswered questions are we’re going to have?’”

She organized a demonstration at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment in downtown Denver almost two weeks ago but says conditions have improved since then.

“I do have to say, the CDLE has actually stepped up in some ways to support us, and has put out more communication, and that has helped a lot,” said Ripley.

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CDLE Executive Director, Joe Barela, hopes Coloradans understand the process takes time.

“We need to make sure we are following the rules and regulations so we’re in compliance with the law, but also, we’re getting money out as expeditiously as possible to people during these times,” Barela said in a news conference Thursday.

Ripley believes it’s time for Gov. Jared Polis to step in and make sure the CDLE stays on track.

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“Governor Polis, for me, has been one of the biggest issues. I’ve requested several times to sit down and have a meeting with him, but he just really blatantly disregards a lot of what’s going on,” said Ripley.

CBS4 contacted Polis’ office. A spokesperson sent a statement: “The Governor agrees that the state must do everything in our power to get people the unemployment benefits they’ve earned. He was pleased that today the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced that it would all be working by Saturday, and the hardworking people waiting for benefits who exhausted their claims will now be able to collect those payments and made whole. He continues to call on Congress to end the fits, stops and start cycle that creates bottlenecks to getting benefits out rapidly.”

While Ripley knows the system isn’t perfect, she has something to look forward to.

“As much as we need the money, that’s obviously the most important part, but I think a big part of it is just to get back to our life. Just to be able to live and not have to dodge bill collectors or make promises that we can’t keep,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

The CDLE says it emailed claimants on Tuesday to notify them about eligibility and the steps they need to take. Even if people haven’t received an email, the CDLE says claimants should log into their accounts on Saturday. The system will be down to help with deployment starting Friday at 5:30 p.m. and ending Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

The CDLE also announced Thursday that they’d be hiring 100 agents to a third-party call center. They’re hiring 50 in-house agents as well. Those positions are only for Coloradans, and the job listings can be found at https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/colorado/jobs/2988141/unemployment-insurance-call-center-agents.

 

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