The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Hopkins v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on December 22, 2011.
Unemployment Benefits—CRS § 8-73-110(3)(a)(I)(B).
In this unemployment benefits case, claimant sought review of a final order of the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (Panel). The order was set aside and the case was remanded with directions.
Claimant worked for employer, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, from June 1986 to July 31, 2001. Since August 1, 2001, claimant had been receiving a monthly pension payment of approximately $3,000. Claimant returned to work for employer on April 6, 2009 through August 4, 2009. During this period of employment, employer did not contribute to claimant’s pension plan, nor did claimant (nor did she have the right to).
Claimant established an initial claim for unemployment benefits on January 24, 2010, for a weekly benefit amount of $443, which was less than the weekly prorated amount of her pension. Claimant’s base period ran from October 1, 2008 through September 31, 2009. The hearing officer concluded that because employer did not contribute to claimant’s pension during her base period employment, no reduction of her unemployment benefits was required under CRS § 8-73-110(3)(a)(I)(B). The Panel reversed.
The Court of Appeals set aside the Panel’s decision as erroneous as a matter of law. The Colorado Employment Security Act is a part of a cooperative federal–state program administered under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). The offset requirements of CRS § 8-73-110(3)(a)(I)(B) are modeled on the analogous provisions of FUTA. The legislative history indicated this was Congress’ response to a concern over “double-dipping” by retirees who actually had withdrawn from the labor force and were being paid both unemployment and retirement benefits by the same employer.
Here, although employer had contributed to the pension claimant was receiving, employer did not contribute to claimant’s pension during the base period that is the subject of her current claim for unemployment benefits. Therefore, claimant would not be “double-dipping” because she would not be collecting both unemployment and retirement benefits based on the same period of work. The Panel’s order was set aside and the case was remanded to the Panel with directions to reinstate the hearing officer’s decision that no reduction in claimant’s unemployment benefits was required under CRS § 8-73-110(3)(a)(I)(B).