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Your unemployment questions answered

What about that $600?

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Department of Labor has been inundated with unemployment claims since the middle of March.

You have sent us many questions and we asked them. CTDOL Communications Contact, Nancy Steffens, answered.

Here is an update on what operations at the Department of Labor are looking like right now:

Since March 13 the agency has received over 343,000 claim applications and has processed over 167,000 of these. Last week the agency was able to provide $53 million in unemployment insurance benefits. In comparison, before the pandemic crisis, the agency was issuing benefit payments totaling between $15 and $16 million a week. The 343,000 claims CTDOL has received in the past month is equivalent to what it would typically receive in two years.

CTDOL staff continue to work overtime on weekdays and staff are also working weekends to process the large volume of claims.

1). Some people say the website isn't working properly. Others say they can’t reach anyone by phone and the automated system directs them back to the website.

During typical filing periods, the public is accustomed to getting an email from the agency within three days to let them know the claim has been processed and they can file. But due to the backlog of claims, it is taking up to six weeks to get a confirmation email from the agency.

The agency hopes to significantly reduce that backlog within the next two weeks. Anyone who has filed and is waiting for their claim to be processed should know that all claims will be retroactive to the date they filed.

2). Some people are not getting their retroactive payments. Why?

Each claim is unique and there are a number of reasons why a person may not be entitled to all weeks or any weeks of retroactive pay. For example, in the processing phase, the UI specialist must look to see if the claimant owed back wages from a claim filed in the past, or check the wage data to ensure the person was not being paid (can't provide benefits if a person is getting paid). There are a variety of other reasons.

3). People filed 5 weeks ago and still haven't seen a dime. When can they expect their money?

Although the agency has processed over 167,000 claim applications, it has received 343,000 applications, so it is taking up to six weeks to process many of the claims.

If you have filed for benefits, you will receive an initial email saying "your claim has been submitted" and asking you to look for a confirmation and next steps email.

You can not file for benefits until you receive a "next steps" email. Once you receive that email, it means your claim has been processed. The email will instruct you to visit www.filectui.com to begin filing weekly claims.

Remember to check your emails daily, and also your spam and junk folders for any emails from the Labor Department.

4). When will people get the extra $600 federal unemployment check?

Regarding the federal stimulus benefit of $600, the agency continues modify, reprogram and compile over 100 programs and reports so that its 40-year-old mainframe computer system can accommodate the criteria for this federal program. We do not have a timeline for when this $600 will be provided with the regular state benefits, but hope to have a timeline next week.

5) I am self-employed. When can I apply for my federal benefits?

Self-employed people also want to know when they can apply for to federal benefits. The agency is building an entirely new filing system since self-employed have never been able to file for benefits. Many states are facing the same challenge. We are recommending that self-employed people do not file until a system is in place. We all post on our website and issue an advisory when the program is in place.