Connecticut Department of Labor employees provided more than $35 million in benefits payments to nearly 104,000 claimants for the week ending April 4. The agency has now processed nearly 133,000 claims of the more than 302,000 the agency has received since March 13, 2020.

“We recognize the critical role unemployment insurance plays, as it provides a lifeline to people who are out of work,” said State Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby, “During this time of need, the agency is working extra hours and weekends to process claims as quickly as possible and to program in computer changes to accommodate the new federal programs that will provide additional unemployment benefits.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began to dramatically affect Connecticut and its businesses community, the agency was typically issuing approximately 40,000 benefit payments weekly, providing $15 to $16 million in benefits to those seeking new employment. The $35 million dollars issued this past week represents a more than 100% increase in the amount of benefits that were provided the previous week.

“Typically the agency receives 3,000 new claims a week – but the applications we have seen in last 21 days represent more than we would handle in 18 months. Typically, a staff of 20 handles the weekly processing, but we now have over 80 CTDOL employees – including those from other units, retirees, and former staff who have transferred to other agencies – all working together to get benefits to our residents as quickly as possible. Additional staff are receiving training and will soon be assisting as well,” Westby added.

“The agency appreciates the public’s patience as it works to process the thousands of claims that have been filed as a result of the pandemic. Although there continues to be a six-week backlog, all eligible claims will be processed, paid, and retroactive to the date they were filed.”

While the numbers in Connecticut are staggering, Connecticut is not unique. Unemployment claims are up in record numbers across the country, as states close non-essential businesses to slow the virus. 

To speed up the processing of their claims, unemployed residents who have not yet filed should:

  • Visit;
  • Click first on the message above the large blue button that notes: “for quicker payment of unemployment benefits, please follow these instructions.” The link will bring claimants to a guide that should be read before filing for benefits.

For residents that have already filed a claim, Westby reminds residents that it is very important that they check their email (including junk and spam folders) daily for updated messages from the Labor Department.

The agency hopes to be able to provide the federal benefits, including the weekly $600 in additional payments and benefits to self-employed individuals and independent contractors, in the next several weeks. Updates on the status of these programs will also be posted to the agency’s website, Federal benefits will be retroactive to the date they were signed into law.

Additional information for the public is available on the agency’s FAQs that have been developed in response to questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.