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 through no fault of their own. 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.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) handles unemployment compensation and decides whether claimants are eligible for benefits. Under the state's normal eligibility rules, you must meet the following three requirements to collect unemployment benefits:
You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits in Arizona.
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.
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 deliberate or negligent misconduct, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits. For example, 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.
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. You may also be eligible if your employer relocated beyond a reasonable commuting distance or your military spouse was transferred to a new location.
Like every state, Arizona looks at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year "base period" to determine your eligibility for unemployment. The base period is the first four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your benefits claim. For example, if you file your claim in May 2020, the base period would be from January 1 through December 31, 2019.
To qualify for benefits in Arizona, you must meet either of the following criteria:
To keep collecting unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to work, and looking for employment. 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.
Under Arizona's normal rules, you must engage in a good faith search for work, including registering with the Arizona Job Connection and making at least one job contact per day for four days out of each week. You must keep records of your job search efforts, which you may have to submit with your weekly claim for benefits.
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. The most you can receive per week is currently $240; the least you can receive is $122. Benefits will continue until you've received the equivalent of 26 weeks of your weekly benefit amount or one-third of your total base-period wages, whichever is less. (In times of very high unemployment, federal and state programs may make additional weeks of benefits available.)
You may file your unemployment claim online at the DES website. If you don't have Internet access, you can apply by phone by calling 1-899-600-2722.
If your unemployment claim is denied, you have 15 days to appeal the decision online, by telephone, or in writing. A hearing will be held on your appeal, at which you may testify, present witnesses, and offer evidence before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You may have a lawyer represent you at the hearing, although it's not required.
The ALJ will issue a written decision in your case. If you aren't satisfied with that decision, you may file an appeal with the Appeals Board within 30 days. And if you disagree with the Appeals Board decision, you may seek review in state court within 30 days.
The DES website has full information about filing an appeal.