Arizona Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

Calendar Icon Updated May 08, 2020
Unemployment

COVID-19 UPDATE: Because the coronavirus pandemic has left so many Americans jobless, the federal government has given states more flexibility in granting unemployment benefits. You’ll need to apply for these benefits through your state’s unemployment insurance program, but if you have questions about whether you’re eligible for benefits read our COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits and Insurance FAQ. Also, before submitting a claim in Arizona, be sure to check out Arizona’s claimant handbook.


A guide to unemployment benefits in Arizona

The Department of Economic Security administers Arizona’s unemployment insurance benefits program. The unemployment program in the state is governed by the Employment Security Law of Arizona. Generally speaking, Arizona citizens who have become unemployed through no fault of their own and who are ready and willing to go back to work will qualify for benefits.

This service is funded by taxes paid by Arizona employers and is provided at no cost to those seeking benefits. However, to qualify for benefits, an applicant must meet certain criteria.


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How do I file for unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona?

1.  Before you apply, make sure you meet all benefit requirements. Arizona citizens who have become unemployed through no fault of their own and who are ready and willing to go back to work can qualify for benefits. To maintain benefits, you must be ready, willing, and able to accept suitable employment, and you must conduct an ongoing job search.

2.  Gather important documents and information. Once you know you meet basic requirements for unemployment benefits, collect the necessary information to submit a claim:

  • Social Security number
  • An Arizona driver’s license or a state-issued ID
  • Your mailing address
  • Names, addresses, and contact information of the employers you have worked for in the past 18 months
  • The last day you worked
  • The amounts of any vacation, severance, or holiday pay that you are entitled to
  • The total of any pension money that you are receiving
  • The name and phone number of your union hall, if applicable

3.  File for unemployment insurance. Arizona is somewhat unique among states because it provides 11 different unemployment insurance programs for citizens. To file a claim, you can log on to the Department of Economic Security (DES) or you can locate a local Arizona unemployment office from the listings of Arizona unemployment office locations.

4.  Calculate the amount of your benefit. The amount of your unemployment insurance benefit is calculated by the amount of insured wages paid to you during a one-year period called a Base Period. The Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you file your claim. If you’re not eligible for benefits using the Base Period, you may be eligible to use an Alternate Base Period. You can also calculate the amount of unemployment benefits you may be entitled to in Arizona by using this calculator.

5.  Determine the number of weeks you can draw benefits. After you complete the Arizona unemployment application process, you will receive a Wage Statement, A Guide to Arizona UI Benefits pamphlet, and a Certificate of Understanding in the mail. This will tell you the specific amount of weeks that you can draw benefits.

6.  Know how and when you will be paid. The state of Arizona makes UI payments to claimants either by direct deposit or through the use of a debit card. If you claim your weeks in a timely manner, you will receive payments every two weeks after that until you become employed again.

7.  Conduct an ongoing job search. Arizona requires you to look for full-time work while drawing benefits. Recipients are required to register with the Arizona Job Connection as part of their search activities.


Note: Due to COVID-19, Arizona has temporarily waived the job search requirement. 


 8.  You can file an appeal if you are denied benefits. If your claim is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. An appeal must be filed within the time frame stated on your determination letter, which is 15 calendar days in most cases.

Where do I submit my claim?

Initial claim

Online: You can submit your initial unemployment benefits claim online between 12 a.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Friday.

By phone: If you aren’t able to file online, call 877-600-2722 to apply over the phone. The unemployment insurance call center hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In person: Arizona also collects in-person applications at One-Stop Centers and DES Employment Service Offices. However, assistance may be limited due to COVID-19.

Locate a local Arizona unemployment office from our listings of Arizona unemployment office locations. You can file an Arizona unemployment claim and have your questions answered at any local unemployment office in your area.

The Arizona unemployment application process can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. When you set up your claim, you will be given a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that you must use to file your continued Arizona unemployment weekly claim and to view payment information.

Weekly claims

Online: You can file your weekly claims through the same online portal where you filed your initial claim.

By phone: You can also call the Telephone Information and Payment System (TIPS) to file your weekly claims:

Claimants who need help filing federal or military benefits claims can call 602-542-5954 on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

TDD: 1-877-877-6226(ARRA and TIPS)

Additional information

There are several ways to get additional information on unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona:

Additionally, you should call Arizona Reemployment Rapid Access (ARRA) for assistance with unemployment benefits:

How unemployment works in Arizona

After you complete the Arizona unemployment application process, you’ll receive a Wage Statement, A Guide to Arizona UI Benefits pamphlet, and a Certificate of Understanding in the mail. Some people will also receive an Electronic Payment Card, which is just like a debit card so that your payments can be loaded onto the card after it is activated.

Before you can begin collecting benefits, you will need to go through a Waiting Week, which is the first week that you file an Arizona unemployment claim. You will receive no benefits for this week. However, Arizona has temporarily suspended the waiting week due to COVID-19.

FAQ

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

You will be mailed a notice if you’re denied or disqualified from receiving benefits. Some of the reasons why you may be denied may include the following:

  • Being fired for misconduct or you quit your last job.
  • You refused an offer to return to work.
  • You lied on your Arizona unemployment claim application.
  • You did not make a diligent attempt to find work.
  • You were not ready, willing, and able to look for work.
  • You had childcare, transportation, or illness issues that kept you from seeking work or actually going back to work.
  • You started a training program.

If you’re denied or disqualified from receiving benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. An appeal must be filed within the time frame stated on your determination letter. The date your appeal time frame starts is the postmark date on your letter.

  • Your first level of appeal is known as a Determination of Deputy. You have 15 calendar days to file that appeal.
  • Your next level of appeal is a Decision of Appeal Tribunal. You have 30 calendar days to submit that appeal.
  • Your next level of appeal is a Decision of Appeals Board. You also have 30 calendar days to submit that appeal.

You can file an appeal in several ways:

  • Call the number on the front of your determination letter.
  • File online through the Arizona Department of Economic Security website
  • Submit a letter to the address found on your determination letter.
  • Appeal in person at an Economic Service Office or a One Stop partner office of the DES.

How much will I be paid by Arizona unemployment?

The amount of your unemployment insurance benefit is calculated by the amount of insured wages paid to you during a one-year period called a Base Period. Insured wages are defined as those wages that are paid by an employer who pays unemployment insurance taxes.

The Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you file your claim.

If you’re not eligible for benefits using the Base Period, you may be eligible to use an Alternate Base Period if you also received Workers’ Compensation. The Alternate Base Period uses wages earned before you became disabled and is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the date you became disabled.

If your claim beginsYour base period will be:Your alternate base period will be:
This year between January 1 and March 31Last year between January 1 and September 30 and the year before between October 1 and December 31Last year between January 1and December 31
This year between April 1 and June 30Last year between January 1 and December 31Last year between April 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and March 31
This year between July 1 and September 30Last year between April 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and March 31Last year between July 1 and December 31 And this year between January 1 and June 30
This year between October 1 and December 31Last year between July 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and June 30Last year between October 1 and December 31 and this year between January 1 and September 30

To qualify for benefits, your employer must have paid unemployment insurance taxes and you must have earned at least 390 times the Arizona minimum wage in your highest earning quarter. You must also have earned at least half that amount in any one of the three remaining quarters as well.

For example, if you earned $6,000 in one quarter, then you must have also earned at least $3,000 in any one of the three remaining quarters. As an alternative, you must have earned at least $7,000 in total wages in at least two quarters of the base period, with wages in one quarter equal to $5,987.50 or more.

Arizona’s maximum weekly benefit is $240 (plus any additional amount provided under federal programs). To calculate the amount of unemployment benefits you may be entitled to in Arizona, you can use this calculator.

How are unemployment benefits in Arizona paid?

The state of Arizona makes UI payments to claimants either by direct deposit or through the use of a debit card.

With direct deposit, you can have your unemployment funds deposited directly into your bank account. This is the fastest and most secure way to receive your payments.

You may also elect to receive your funds through a DES debit card. The debit card is issued through a partner bank and your UI benefit payments are loaded directly on to the card. You can then use the debit card to make purchases for goods and services.

When will I begin receiving unemployment checks?

It may take a few weeks for your claim to be processed and payment to be sent out. If you claim your weeks in a timely manner, you will receive payments every two weeks after that until you become employed again.

It is critical that you file a weekly continued claim regardless of your Arizona unemployment eligibility status. If you earn any money during your benefit week (which runs from 12:01 a.m. Sunday until midnight the following Saturday), you must report those wages. Similarly, if you get a job and go back to work, you must also report that update as well.

What are the unemployment programs in Arizona?

To file Arizona unemployment, you first must identify the unemployment program that fits you. Arizona is somewhat unique among states because it provides 11 different unemployment insurance programs, and your claims process may look slightly different depending on which one you’re eligible for. 

Arizona Unemployment Insurance: You’re are eligible for this program based on the amount of wages you earn during your base period or alternate base period. This program is funded by employers who are required to pay an unemployment insurance tax.

Arizona Unemployment Insurance for Federal Employees: Eligibility for this program depends on the unemployment insurance laws of the state where you last worked as a federal government civilian employee.

Arizona Unemployment Insurance for Ex-Military and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Personnel: Arizona unemployment eligibility is determined based on the reason you separated from employment in the United States armed forces or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You will need to provide information from your Form DD-214.

Combined Wages: This program allows you to combine wages from all states you worked in, and you have the option of filing in any one of the states where you worked. By combining wages, you may be able to increase the amount of unemployment insurance benefits you can receive.

Arizona Unemployment Claim Filing: Filing a claim for unemployment benefits in the state of Arizona requires you to follow the steps to verify eligibility, complete the application, and communicate directly with the state via its website or in an unemployment office. 

Approved Training: If you’re currently enrolled in a training program, you may still be able to draw benefits after the department reviews and approves the course and the school you’re attending.

Shared Work: You may be eligible for a portion of your state of Arizona unemployment benefits if your work hours are reduced but you’re not laid off. Your employer must apply and be approved for a Shared Work plan to be eligible.

Arizona Workers Compensation Claim: If you have a work related disability, injury, or illness, you can use an alternate base period if you received Workers Compensation benefits from your employer and you did not have enough wages in your regular base period to qualify for benefits.

Labor Dispute Claim: If a labor dispute results in a lockout or a strike, you may be able to file a claim to collect benefits.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance: Federal unemployment assistance may be available to workers when they lose their jobs as a result of a major disaster.

Trade Readjustment Allowance: You may be able to collect federal unemployment benefits if it can be shown you lost your job due to imports into the United States.

Arizona Extended Benefits: If your regular unemployment insurance benefits expire during a time of high unemployment, you may be able to secure additional weeks of benefits during an Extended Benefit period for unemployment payments in Arizona. This is called an unemployment benefits extension.

Eligibility Team

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