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.

---

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

We understand that this has been a very disruptive time for many workers whose businesses have temporarily closed or seen a drop in their business. 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).

  • A new temporary unemployment insurance program will be available for gig workers, the self-employed, and independent contractors who normally do not qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • The CARES Act waives the waiting time for approval, extends coverage for an additional 13 weeks, so Arizonans would be eligible for 39 total weeks.
  • For those receiving unemployment insurance between now and July 31, 2020, an extra $600 in unemployment insurance benefits will be automatically available. An Arizonan who qualifies for the maximum unemployment insurance benefit of $240 would be able to receive an unemployment insurance benefit of $840/week ($240 + $600) through July 2020.
  • This $600 benefit will be taxable (like all unemployment benefits), but it will be disregarded in determining Medicaid or CHIP eligibility.
  • People will apply through the state, through the existing unemployment insurance process 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.

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 state’s traditional 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. The online Weekly Claims System is available from 12:01 a.m. Sunday to 6 p.m. Friday. 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. 

DES will begin accepting new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance applications May 12th beginning at 6:00pm. In addition, DES announced on May 11, 2020, that over 165,000 Arizonans who had already filed an initial claim for unemployment between February 2, 2020 and May 2, 2020, and met the requirements for the new Pandemic program have been retroactively approved and their checks were sent out yesterday.

DES reports individuals will receive an initial payment consisting of the minimum PUA amount ($117/week) plus the additional $600 federal weekly payment for three weeks worth of benefits. Individuals who received notice that they were monetarily ineligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits will receive additional notices regarding information that will be needed to determine ongoing eligibility and how to file weekly claims.

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. 

PUA benefits are available for weeks of unemployment beginning February 2, 2020 through the week ending December 26, 2020. PUA provides a benefit ranging from $117 to $240 per week, for up to 39 weeks. Individuals receiving PUA benefits will also receive an additional $600 a week in benefits between the weeks of March 29, 2020 and July 25, 2020.

To apply for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, click HERE.

Beginning May 17, 2020, individuals must also file weekly certifications for each week for which they are claiming eligibility for benefits, including retroactive certifications back to their last date of employment. Individuals will have to file certifications for each week for which they are claiming eligibility for benefits in order to receive payments. More information will be available to file weekly claims HERE.  

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

For more on changes made to unemployment insurance under the CARES Act, visit HERE.

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. 
    • However, certain exceptions may apply due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All individuals should consult with their employer, their physician, and DES directly on their personal circumstances. These will be decisions made by DES.
    • There are good cause exceptions to the requirement that you must return to work if doing so would put you at risk of exposure if you are in a high-risk population or someone in your household is in a high-risk population
    • 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, increasing access to unemployment benefits. These resources are applied retroactively to hardships experienced after March 11, 2020. Applications will be accepted beginning March 23, 2020: https://des.az.gov/services/coronavirus

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. 

---

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.