Arizona Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility
- Learn about unemployment benefits in Arizona. Find out who is eligible for unemployment, how much money they get, how to apply and where to file an appeal.
For anyone, the loss of a job is traumatic. Along with the emotional and mental effects of a layoff or termination, unemployed people face the question of how they will pay for their rent or mortgage, utilities, food and other expenses.
Arizona's Unemployment Insurance program offers a safety net in the form of regular payments to qualified individuals. The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) administers this program in accordance with state laws and regulations. Understanding them is the first step to filing an unemployment claim.
Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Arizona?
Arizona unemployment benefits law establishes eligibility criteria in accordance with guidelines created by the U.S. federal government. For your unemployment claim to receive approval, you must meet all the requirements outlined below.
Working for a Qualified Employer
To be eligible for unemployment, your former employer must participate in the unemployment system. Arizona funds the unemployment benefits program partially through unemployment tax paid by employers. Nearly all employers in Arizona must pay this tax on the first $7,000 in gross annual wages paid to each employee. As a result, most unemployed Arizonans meet this requirement.
Reason for Job Loss
Arizona unemployment benefits are only available for people who lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. A location, office or plant closing, a reduction in force and a general lack of available work are common reasons for job loss that meet the definition of "no-fault layoffs."
Termination for cause normally disqualifies an applicant. However, the DES evaluates each case individually using the terms outlined in state and federal laws.
You must be a resident of Arizona to receive unemployment benefits. Those who relocate outside of the state before or after they file an unemployment claim are likely to be deemed ineligible.
Willingness to Work
Arizona requires that everyone receiving unemployment benefits be willing to work and actively looking for a job. Anyone who refuses to work will be denied benefits or have their benefits canceled. The DES Employment Service frequently makes suitable work referrals to applicants. Not responding to or refusing these referrals or skipping any Reemployment Services counseling sessions can also result in the cancellation of benefits.
If a referred employer issues a job offer, unemployment recipients aren't obligated to accept it. However, they must have a good reason for turning down the job. Examples of valid reasons may include scheduling conflicts or an inaccessible commute.
To determine your eligibility for unemployment, the DES examines a time frame called the base period. The term refers to the first four of the last five economic quarters prior to the date of your application.
During the base period, you:
- Must earn at least 390 times the minimum wage in your highest paid quarter
- Must have earned a total of at least 1.5 times the amount paid during your highest quarter during the other three quarters
In addition, you:
- Must have earned a total of at least $7,000 in wages during two quarters
- Must have earned at least $5,987.50 during at least one quarter
Here is an example of how it works. Imagine an unemployed person received the following wages during the four quarters of their base period:
- First quarter: $6,000
- Second quarter: $3,000
- Third quarter: $2,500
- Fourth quarter: $3,500
They file a claim in 2022 when the minimum wage in Arizona is $12.80, so the following is true:
- The amount earned during the highest paid quarter is roughly 469 times higher than the minimum wage
- The amount earned during the remaining quarters is exactly 1.5 times more than what was earned during the highest paid quarter
- The amount earned during the two highest paid quarters was $9,500, which is $2,500 more than $7,000
- The employee earned more than $5,987.50 in the first quarter
Due to all these factors, this applicant would be eligible for unemployment based on wages. Keep in mind that receiving retirement pay other than Social Security, severance pay or pay for unused vacation or holiday pay may make an applicant ineligible for unemployment benefits.
How Do You Apply for Arizona Unemployment Benefits?
Arizonans can file for unemployment benefits by mail by downloading the form Arizona Initial Claim for Unemployment Insurance and mailing it to the DES Unemployment Insurance Administration office in Phoenix. The address appears on the form for quick reference.
For faster processing, people can also complete the application process online. Before filling in the online application, gather the following information:
- Names, addresses and telephone numbers for every employer you had during the last 18 months
- Date of your last work day
- Amount paid for any severance, vacation, holiday or unused sick pay before deduction and when this payment was received
You may also need the following:
- Name and phone number of union hall if you belong to a trade union
- Alien registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
- Copy # 4 of DD Form 214 if you received a discharge from the military during the last 18 months
- SF 8 or SF 50 if you worked for the Federal Civilian service during the last 18 months
- Amount of monthly pension payments other than social security and when you began receiving them
Once you have the necessary information, simply follow the on-screen instructions to complete the application. Then, wait to receive a packet from the state via U.S. mail. In it, you'll find a Certificate of Understanding that you must return to the state before application processing can begin.
How Much Do You Get From Arizona Unemployment?
Arizona pays unemployment benefits weekly. How much you receive depends on how much money you earned during the highest-paid quarter of the base period. Specifically, eligible recipients get 4% of the wages paid during that quarter. Due to the minimum standards established by wages, the minimum amount paid is roughly $239 per week. The maximum amount anyone can receive is $240 per week.
You can receive unemployment for up to 26 weeks. However, you must actively look for work during that period to continue receiving benefits. If you work during the benefits period, you may receive payments for a shorter or longer period.
What Happens if Unemployment Claims in Arizona Are Denied?
If the state denies an unemployment claim, Arizona law entitles the individual to a benefits denial appeal. To do so, complete the Request for Reconsideration/Appeal form and mail it to the address listed at the top.
After the appeals claim filing, the state sets up a hearing to give the person a chance to argue their case. Organizations like Community Legal Services, Southern Arizona Legal Aid and ASU Law Civil Litigation Clinic offer free legal representation for appeals hearings.