On March 20, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order, later followed by the signing of legislation, ensuring those who are out of work or facing a loss of hours because of COVID-19 have access to unemployment benefits. The order:
Waived the one-week waiting period after an employee loses a job before they apply for unemployment benefits; and
Temporarily suspended work search requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits.
The order also expanded who is eligible to receive unemployment benefits to include:
-Individuals whose employer has permanently or temporarily ceased or drastically reduced operations due to COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of wages;
-Individuals who, due to requirements that the individual be quarantined, are separated from employment and do not have any available paid leave even if the individual has an expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over;
-Individuals who leave employment due to a risk of exposure or infection and are a member of a population that is particularly susceptible to COVID-19;
-Individuals who leave employment to care for a family member who has been infected with COVID-19; and
-Individuals who for any other scenario are separated from work for reasons related to COVID-19.
On March 27, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law, which makes a number of changes to expand unemployment assistance. These include:
Expanding eligibility to individuals who historically have not been eligible for unemployment benefits such as individuals who are self-employed, contract workers or gig workers;
Providing people with an additional $600 per week in benefits on top of the unemployment amount already offered by Arizona Unemployment Insurance benefits; and
Authorizing extended benefits for an additional 13 weeks for individuals who exhaust their unemployment benefits.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) recently received guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on the additional $600 for Unemployment Insurance benefits and will be updating its systems in the coming days, with the expectation that those monies could reach claimants as early as next week. DES is evaluating guidance from DOL regarding the extended eligibility for those who historically have not been eligible.
To help process a surge in claims, DES has increased staff from 13 to more than 150 in call centers, with additional new assistance joining this week and further plans to augment capacity in the coming weeks. The Department has also deployed an online question tool (chatbot) in order to help users navigate the website and process.
Regardless of the status of the initial application, and regardless of the reasons why the individual is eligible for Unemployment Insurance, all Unemployment Insurance claimants must file weekly claims to continue to receive benefits. Even if their initial claim is still pending, Unemployment Insurance claimants must file a weekly claim to receive benefits for that week.
How to apply for and continue to receive unemployment benefits:
The fastest and easiest way to apply for unemployment assistance is online at www.azui.com anytime between 12:01 a.m. on Sunday through 6:00 p.m. on Friday. Individuals without Internet access should call 1 (877) 600-2722. Hard copies of applications are also available in the documents center (UB-105 Arizona Initial Claim for Unemployment Insurance) at www.azdes.gov.
Where to find information on job openings
ARIZONA@WORK staff can provide people with no-cost job assistance to help them get back to work. More information about the services available and a list of jobs with immediate openings can be found at: www.ARIZONA@WORK.com.