Our highest priority is keeping Arizonans healthy, safe, and economically secure.

Arizonans: the fastest way to get assistance or info. from our office is to email casework@sinema.senate.gov.

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UPDATE: On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law, providing essential public health and economic resources to Arizona and the country. Among other important provisions, the new law:

  • extends the $300 in enhanced unemployment benefits, also known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), through the benefit week ending before September 6, 2021. 
  • Unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program have also been extended to September 6, 2021.
  • The new law extends benefits to PUA recipients a maximum 79 weeks, up from the previous 50-week limit. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which pays extra weeks of state benefits to the long-term unemployed, would get up to 53 weeks of benefits instead of 24 (on top of what Arizona allows, a maximum of 26 weeks).

The new American Rescue Plan law provides limited tax relief for taxpayers who received unemployment benefits in 2020 and with income below $150,000. For these taxpayers, the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits (or $20,400 for those couples filing jointly) received in 2020 will be excluded from federal taxation. For those who have already paid taxes on the first $10,200 in UI benefits through withholding or if you have already filed your 2020 federal income taxes, the IRS will take steps in the spring and summer to make the appropriate change to your return, which may result in a refund. The first refunds are expected to be made in May and will continue into the summer. More information is available on the IRS website HERE.

The IRS has worked with the tax return preparation software industry to reflect these updates so people who choose to file electronically will be able to see these changes automatically when filing and entering information about unemployment benefits. See New Exclusion of up to $10,200 of Unemployment Compensation for information and examples. For others, instructions and an updated worksheet about the exclusion have been posted to IRS.gov/form1040. These instructions can assist taxpayers who have not yet filed to prepare returns correctly.

More information as it becomes available from the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) will be on their website. As of Friday, March 12, 2021, DES’ website has the following message: On March 11, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed into law. While DES works to implement the extension of benefits in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor guidelines, please continue to file weekly certifications. You do not need to reapply for benefits. Per the federal law, individuals who have exhausted benefits will not be eligible for weeks of benefits prior to March 14, 2021. Certifications for the first week of the extension can be filed and will be payable beginning March 21, 2021. DES is evaluating the legislation and we expect additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor. We will provide guidance to individuals impacted by this legislation as we have additional details.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (UI)

We understand that this has been a very disruptive time for many workers whose businesses have temporarily closed or seen a drop in their income. Any Arizonans who have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or had their hours reduced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak may be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits from the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES).

For more information, please go to DES’ FAQ page HERE.

All of the enhanced FPUC unemployment benefits (the previous $600 or current $300) are taxable, but do not count towards determining AHCCCS or KidsCare eligibility. The other UI programs (including regular state UI benefits and the PUA benefits) do count towards AHCCCS or KidsCare eligibility).

Additionally, securing part time work while receiving unemployment benefits does not automatically make you ineligible. It may, however, impact your weekly benefit amount. When filing your weekly claim you must report all earnings. Earnings over $30 in a single week are deducted from that week’s benefit amount. For example, if you qualify for the maximum weekly benefit amount of $240 and you receive $180 in earnings from working that week, $150 of your earnings would be deducted from the maximum benefit amount and you would receive $90.

People can apply for unemployment benefits through the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES). To apply, click the link HERE.

For a full explanation of eligibility for unemployment insurance in Arizona, click HERE.

Filing Weekly Claims With DES:

PLEASE REMEMBER, Arizona DES is requiring all UI claimants (regardless of which UI program you qualify under) to verify their identities in order to continue filing weekly certifications. More information can be found on the DES website HERE. 

Given the high volume of applications, Arizonans may face delays in getting their application to DES processed. Those who believe they are eligible for the UI program, must file weekly claims to continue to receive benefits (even if your initial claim is still pending, you must file a weekly claim to receive benefits for that week). If you are later found on appeal to be eligible, you will only be paid for the retroactive weeks in which you submitted weekly claims. UI claimants can file weekly claims HERE. More information about filing weekly claims can be found HERE.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Unemployment (PUA):

The new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was passed as a part of the CARES Act, and extends UI benefits to those who traditionally would not have been eligible for UI benefits in Arizona.

Eligibility: If you already applied for unemployment insurance from DES and were denied, you may be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance program if you:

  • are determined to be monetarily ineligible according to the state
  • have exhausted all rights to such benefits,
  • are self-employed,
  • are seeking part-time employment,
  • lack sufficient work history, or
  • otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or federal law. 

To apply for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, click HERETo learn more, visit the DES PUA FAQ website HERE.

DES and ID verification for PUA claimants:

Beginning December 5, 2020, the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) announced it would require all Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants to verify their identities using ID.me, a safe and secure identification portal, before they will be eligible to receive or continue to receive benefits. 

According to DES, PUA claimants will be notified through direct messaging within the PUA portal and through email in advance of the next phase to provide them ample time to prepare the necessary documentation. Claimants must use the unique ID.me link sent directly to them, as using a shared link will not allow the claimant to verify their identity. After the claimant has successfully verified their identity, they can continue filing their weekly certification. For claimants who are unable to verify their identity through ID.me, they should contact DES right away to verify their identity with another method. Claimants who have already verified their identities through ID.me will not have to go through the process a second time. More information can be found on the DES website HERE. 

More information on PUA eligibility criteria and required documentation can be found at: https://des.az.gov/pua​​​​​​​

Returning to Work - DES Guidance for Employers and Employees

This information is taken from the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s website HERE.

  • Employers should continue to encourage telework, whenever possible and feasible with business operations. If possible, employers should return their workforce in phases, close common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact and enforce physical distancing protocols. Employers should also strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of a vulnerable population. To read the CDC’s guidelines for re-opening safely and smartly, please go HERE
  • Employees should return to work as soon as employers safely resume. Federal and state law requires that employees receiving unemployment benefits accept offers of “suitable work” made in good faith. Refusing to work could result in unemployment benefits being discontinued. Certain exceptions may apply. 
    • All individuals should consult with their employer, their physician, and DES directly on their personal circumstances. These will be decisions made by DES.
    • To read DES guidance on returning to work, please visit the DES website HERE.

Read about Governor Ducey’s executive order and administrative action aimed at providing certainty and economic relief for those facing financial hardship because of COVID-19 HERE

DES has A GUIDE TO ARIZONA BENEFITS for individuals who qualify for regular unemployment insurance. 

DES also has a PUA CLAIMANT GUIDE, which includes step by step directions and screenshots to walk individuals through the claims filing process. 

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Federal coronavirus-response legislation: click HERE.

Specific actions Kyrsten is taking on behalf of Arizona: click HERE.

Visit our main resources page: sinema.senate.gov/corona.