See below Frequently Asked Questions about Unemployment Assistance as well as additional resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
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: I am currently unemployed and were receiving unemployment payments. What should I do to continue receiving these payments?
A: According to the DES, you should continue file weekly certifications. If you are currently receiving unemployment payments, you do not need reapply for benefits.
Q: How much are the payments?
A: The payments will be $300 per week.
Q: How long will the payments last?
A: The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) will be extended through September 6, 2021.
Q: How many weeks of pandemic benefits can I receive?
A: For PEUC payments, an unemployed individual can receive up to 53 weeks. For PUA recipients, the maximum durations has been increased to 79 weeks.
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: I’ve heard that unemployment payments are not taxable by federal government. Is this true?
A: This depends on your income level. The first $10,200 of unemployment insurance payments received in 2020 are exempt from federal income taxes, as long as your household adjusted gross income is less than $150,000.
Q: Does this apply to state benefits?
A: Yes. For example, if you received $6,000 in traditional state benefits and $6,000 in PUA payments, while earning less than $150,000, you would pay federal taxes on the $1,800 of unemployment insurance payments above the exemption. You can find more information at the IRS website here.
Q: How do I calculate the exemption?
A: The IRS recently came up with guidance on how you or your tax preparer can correctly calculate this tax exemption. To see the IRS instructions, please click here.
Q: I’ve already filed my taxes, and didn’t take this exemption. What should I do?
A: According to the IRS, if you have already field your 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR, you should not file an amended return at this time. The IRS will issue additional guidance as soon as possible. For more information, please click here.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.