See below Frequently Asked Questions about Unemployment Assistance as well as additional resources. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The CARES Act provides much-needed temporary support for American workers impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • It dedicates $250 billion to give workers more access to unemployment benefits during this public health emergency.
  • Creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
  • Expands coverage to more workers, including self-employed, contractors, and furloughed workers.
  • Makes available 13 additional weeks of unemployment for those who need it.
  • Waives the normal one-week waiting period.
  • Includes funding to offset 50% of the costs of state and local government and non-profits for cost of paying unemployment to their workers.
  • Supports short-time, work share programs as an alternative to layoffs.

Q: Are self-employed and independent contractors eligible to receive unemployment benefits due to COVID-19? 

A: Yes. Self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This also covers workers laid off from churches and religious institutions who may not be eligible under the state’s program.

Q: What about furloughed workers?

A: Yes. States have policies in place to allow furloughed workers to receive unemployment benefits and part-time workers can receive partial benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program also helps workers stay connected to their employer by allowing unemployment benefits for workers who have a job but are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19-related reasons and are not receiving paid leave through their employer.

Q: How much do unemployed workers get?

A: In Arizona, a person under the unemployment benefits program can receive a maximum of $240 per week. The Lost Wages Assistance provides an additional $300 per week through grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Lost Wages Assistance runs for 6 weeks per state.  Arizona was one of the first states to implement the Lost Wages Assistance.  It started on July 26, 2020 and went through September 5, 2020. To ease the burden for those struggling with unemployment caused by COVID-19, President Donald J. Trump directed FEMA to provide supplemental payments for lost wages nationwide. The $300/week payments, will also be made retroactive for each week after July 26 where the additional federal payments of $600/week lapsed. Previously, as part of the CARES Act, the additional $600 supplement to weekly benefits was made between March 29 and July 25.  

Q: How long do unemployment benefits last?

A: A person in Arizona may receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. The CARES Act provides federal funding for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment for those who need it. Funding for this increase expires December 31st, 2020. If the 26 weeks and the additional 13 weeks are exhausted for a claimant on traditional Unemployment Insurance benefits, a claimant may qualify for the Extended Benefits program, which provides another 13 weeks to those who have exhausted both the Unemployment Insurance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Claimants that qualify under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are limited to 39 weeks of benefits. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance expires on 12/26/20. Additionally, the US Dept. of Labor determines the period we’ve entered as a “high unemployment period,” as a result there is a 7 week extension to the original 39 weeks of PUA benefits, making those benefits available to eligible claimants for a total period of 46 weeks through 1/26/2020  ("Section 2102 of the Act provides that if extended benefits duration is extended after March 27, 2020, the 39-week period shall be extended by the number of weeks that is equal to the number of weeks by which the extended benefits were extended. Thus, if a state enters a “high unemployment period,” as provided in section 202(b)(3)(B) of the Federal-State Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 1970 (26 U.S.C. 3304 note), up to an additional 7 weeks of benefits for a total of 46 weeks of PUA benefits would be available to eligible individuals.")
Click here for information about DES Unemployment Insurance benefits. 

Q: Are unemployment benefits taxable and do they count as income?

A: Yes. Unemployment benefits are taxable income and they generally count as income when determining eligibility for public assistance programs.

Q: Where can I go to apply or get more information about unemployment benefits in Arizona?   

A: You can visit des.az.gov/services/coronavirus for more information about unemployment benefits or other programs that may be helpful or you can visit www.azui.gov to apply for unemployment benefits.

Q: Is there additional unemployment assistance for those who are unable to work due to COVID-19? 

A: To ease the burden for those struggling with unemployment caused by COVID-19, President Donald J. Trump directed FEMA to provide supplemental payments for lost wages nationwide. The $300/week payments, will also be made retroactive for each week after July 26 where the additional federal payments of $600/week lapsed. Previously, as part of the CARES Act, the additional $600 supplement to weekly benefits was made between March 29 and July 25.

Q: Which individuals are currently eligible?   

A: A state may provide supplemental lost wages payments to individuals (“claimants”) currently eligible for $300 per week in UI compensation from the week of August 1, 2020 from any of the following:

▪ Unemployment compensation, including regular State Unemployment Compensation, Unemployment
Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service
members (UCX)
▪ Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
▪ Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
▪ Extended Benefits (EB)
▪ Short-Time Compensation (STC)
▪ Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA)
▪ Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program

FEDERAL PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (FPUC) PAYMENTS

Q: When is the new round of FPUC payments available?

A: FPUC payments will begin with the benefit week ending January 2, 2021, and will end with the benefit week ending March 13, 2021.

Q: Who can receive FPUC?

A: FPUC is payable to individuals who are otherwise entitled under state or federal law to receive the following UC benefits:

  • Regular Unemployment Insurance
  • Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees
  • Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation 
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance 
  • Extended Benefits 
  • Shared Work 
  • Trade Readjustment Allowances 

If an individual is eligible to receive at least one dollar of underlying benefits for a claimed week, the claimant will also receive the full $300 FPUC payment for that week. Individuals will receive FPUC payments concurrently with their weekly benefit payments for the underlying program.

Q: Did we miss any weeks of payments between the time the bill passed and when it was signed into law?

A: No. The legislation passed by Congress provided for FPUC payments to begin for weeks of unemployment beginning after December 26, 2020. The first benefit week after December 26, 2021 is benefit week ending January 2, 2021, when FPUC payments will be available.

Q: When will DES be able to issue the weekly $300 FPUC payments?

A: The team has been working through the Christmas and New Year holidays to ensure our systems are able issue FPUC payments. We anticipate being able to make payments on the first possible day, January 3, 2021, when claimants begin filing their weekly certifications for the week ending January 2, 2021.

Q: When will the FPUC payments end?

A: Based on current legislation, the $300 FPUC payments will end on March 13, 2021.

FEDERAL STIMULUS UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION 

Q: What is going on with the stimulus/PUA/PEUC programs? 

A: On December 27, 2020, the President signed into law the new stimulus legislation that impacts unemployment benefits. States are receiving additional guidance from the US Department of Labor on implementation and additional information will be provided once available.  DES anticipates that it will be able to implement the new changes quickly and mitigate interruption or delays in benefits to claimants. Claimants are still encouraged to apply for UI or PUA benefits as close to their unemployment date as possible.
 

Q: I am awaiting adjudication for weekly certifications I submitted before BWE 12/26/20. What will happen now?

A: If you are waiting for the Department to adjudicate a claim you filed prior to December 26, 2020, the Department will continue to process your claim. Once your claim has been processed, you will receive benefits for any weeks you were eligible.
 
Q: When will my payments stop/Will I get paid this week?

A: This week, claimants are filing weekly certifications for benefit week ending December 26, 2020. This benefit week was the last week authorized under the first stimulus bill (the CARES Act) and DES will issue these payments as normal.  The DES team has been working through the Christmas and New Year holidays to implement the unemployment extensions. We anticipate being able to make payments on the first possible day, January 3, 2021, when claimants begin filing their weekly certifications for the week ending January 2, 2021. 

HR 133 does the following:

  • Provides unemployed individuals an additional $300 per week for 10 weeks from December 26, 2020-March 14, 2021
  • Extends and phases-out PUA, which is a temporary federal program covering self-employed and gig workers, to March 14 (after which no new applicants) through April 5, 2021
  • All the eligibility is the same
  • Not sure we want to include this but the bill included Anti-Fraud Safeguards for Unemployment by requiring states to verify identity and ending “trust me” self-verification. All states must have a website for employers to report when job applicants turn down suitable job offers, saving taxpayer dollars and assistance for those still struggling to find work.

Additional Resources

  • For regular updates from the Arizona Department of Economic Security, click here.
  • For additional guidance regarding unemployment resources from the Department of Labor, click here
  • For information about open positions and hiring from Arizona@Work, click here
  • For employment assistance from Goodwill, click here

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