Fire victims now eligible for unemployment benefits

People who are unemployed because of a wildfire evacuation or because their workplaces are affected might be eligible for unemployment benefits, said the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

People can file unemployment claims online at

Evacuated people might be eligible if their unemployment resulted from physical damage or destruction of a workplace, or because the workplace has become inaccessible because it’s been closed by federal, state or local government officials.


In addition, people already receiving unemployment benefits and who are in an evacuated area will receive a waiver from the requirement to seek work, beginning the week the fire started in their area. The Waldo Canyon fire date is June 24.


Individuals must continue requesting payment of unemployment benefits, as they always have. If the fire is the only circumstance preventing them from looking for work, they should report that they are able, available and looking for jobs.


Some claimants might be receiving emergency unemployment compensation, benefit payments beyond the original 26 weeks. For the immediate future the labor department is extending time in which claimants must complete re-employment services.


The Division of Unemployment Insurance will verify that affected individuals’ addresses are in burn or evacuation areas (currently, these include 80512, 80526, 80535, 80536, 80538, 80809, 80819, 80840, 80904, 80907, 80919 and 80921) and that their usual requirements for unemployment insurance benefits are being temporarily waived. They will still be required to complete all the services in the future.


Colorado has not yet been deemed eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, a federal program that provides temporary financial assistance to workers and self-employed individuals who have lost their jobs because of a disaster, and who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits.