Collecting Unemployment Benefits in Arizona

Learn the rules for unemployment eligibility, benefit amounts, and more in Arizona.

If you are out of work, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits. Unemployment compensation is available to those who are temporarily out of work, without fault on their parts. The basic structure of the unemployment system is the same from state to state. However, each state sets its own rules for eligibility, benefit amounts, filing procedures, and more. This article explains how unemployment benefits work in Arizona.

Are You Eligible for Unemployment in Arizona?

The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) handles unemployment compensation and decides whether claimants are eligible for benefits. You must meet the following three eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits in Arizona:

  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by Arizona law.
  • You must have earned at least a minimum amount in wages before you were unemployed.
  • You must be able and available to work, and you must be actively seeking employment.

Reasons for Unemployment

You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits in Arizona.

  • Layoffs. If you were laid off, lost your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or got "downsized" for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement.
  • Firing. If you were fired because you lacked the skills to perform the job or simply weren't a good fit, you won’t necessarily be barred from receiving benefits. If, however, you were fired for misconduct, you may be disqualified from receiving benefits. In Arizona, you may not be eligible for benefits if you neglected your job duties, willfully disregarded your employer’s interests, or deliberately violated workplace rules, among other things.
  • Quitting. You won't be eligible for unemployment benefits if you quit your job voluntarily and without good cause. In general, good cause means that you had a compelling reason that left you no other choice than to leave. For example, if you left your job because of dangerous working conditions or discrimination that your employer refused to stop, you may be able to collect benefits. If you quit your job for compelling personal reasons that give you no alternative (for example, to care for a seriously ill family member or to search for work closer to your home, if your employer relocated beyond a reasonable commuting distance), you may also be eligible for benefits.

Past Earnings

Like every state, Arizona looks at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year "base period" to determine your eligibility for unemployment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Unemployment Compensation: Understanding the Base Period). In Arizona, as in most states, the base period is the earliest four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your benefits claim. For example, if you file your claim in September of 2015, the base period would be from April 1, 2014, through March 31, 2015.

To qualify for benefits in Arizona, you must meet either of the following criteria:

  • You must have earned at least 390 times the Arizona minimum wage during the highest paid quarter of the base period, and at least half that amount in the other three quarters of the base period combined.
  • You must have earned at least $7,000 in two combined quarters of the base period, with at least $5,987.50 earned in one of those quarters.

Availability to Work

To keep collecting unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to work, and looking for employment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Collecting Unemployment: Are You Able, Available, and Actively Seeking Work?) If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it.

Whether a position is suitable depends on how similar the job is to your previous employment, how much you will be paid, the working conditions, and the skills, experience, and training required for the position. The longer you are unemployed, the more likely you will have to consider jobs that pay less, are in a different field or occupation, or require a longer commute.

You must engage in a good faith search for work, including registering with the Arizona Job Connection. You must keep records of your job search efforts, which you may have to submit with your weekly claim for benefits.

Amount and Duration of Unemployment Benefits in Arizona

If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit In Arizona will be 4% of the wages you earned in the highest paid quarter of the base period. (You can look up your exact benefit amount on the chart called Calculating Your Weekly Unemployment Insurance Benefit Amount.) The most you can receive per week is currently $240; the least you can receive is $122. You may receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. (In times of very high unemployment, federal and state programs may make additional weeks of benefits available.)

How to File a Claim for Unemployment Benefits in Arizona

You may file your claim for unemployment benefits in Arizona electronically. You can find contact information and online filing information at the website of the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Once the DES receives your application, it will send you a packet of documents, including a Wage Statement that provides your potential weekly benefit amount.

How to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Arizona

If your unemployment claim is denied, you have 15 days to appeal the decision to the Office of Appeals. A hearing will be held on your appeal, at which you may testify, present witnesses, and offer evidence before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will issue a written decision in your case.

If you aren’t satisfied with the ALJ’s decision, you may file an appeal with the Appeals Board within 30 days. And, if you aren’t satisfied with the decision of the Appeals Board, you may seek review in state court within 30 days.

For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the website of the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

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