Guide to Unemployment Benefits

How to File for Unemployment

The coronavirus outbreak has brought the highest amount of unemployment filings on record. As businesses shutter due to quarantine, many workers are wondering, “How do I file for unemployment?” for the first time.

Filing for unemployment is a different process for each state. In this guide, learn if you’re eligible for unemployment benefits and how to file for unemployment.

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

The U.S. Department of Labor has unemployment insurance programs that provide benefits to unemployed workers who qualify. To qualify, a worker must meet the following eligibility requirements.

  • Become unemployed through no fault of their own – usually due to a lack of available work
  • Meet the worker’s state’s wage and work requirements
  • Meet additional state requirements

To find your state’s unemployment benefits link, search for it on CareerOneStop, a site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Know that the recent $2.2 trillion stimulus package that was approved includes more workers for unemployment benefits eligibility, including part-time workers and self-employed people. Also, people who are now unable to get to work because of the outbreak are eligible for unemployment benefits.

In some cases, if you quit your job because of the coronavirus, you may also be eligible for unemployment benefits. For example, if your healthcare provider recommended you quarantine or if you quit because you had to take care of a child at home, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits after quitting your job.

How to File for Unemployment in Arizona

Because our headquarters are in Arizona, let’s take a look at this filing for unemployment example for the state of Arizona. Many states have similar processes.

Apply for unemployment insurance in Arizona online

For an unemployment application in any state, it’s important to be honest and accurate with the information you provide. Providing inaccurate information can delay the process of you getting benefits. It’s best to get organized before you file so you can save time and complete an accurate application. Follow these steps.

  1. Make sure you have the following information on hand:
    1. Social Security Number
    2. AZ driver’s license or AZ state-issued ID
    3. Mailing address including city, state and ZIP code
    4. The county where you live
    5. Names, addresses and phone numbers of all employers you worked for in the last 18 months
    6. Last day you worked
    7. The amount of any payment for holiday, vacation, severance or unused sick pay you may have received and the date you received payment
    8. Name and local number of your union hall, if applicable
    9. Alien Registration Number, if applicable
    10. Copy #4 of your DD Form 214 if you were released from the military in the last 18 months
    11. SF 8 or SF 50 if you were employed in Federal Civilian service in the last 18 months
    12. Start date of pension and monthly benefit amount if you’re collecting a pension other than Social Security
  2. Head to the Arizona Department of Economic Security website.
  3. Click “Proceed to the Initial Claims Online Application.”
  4. Select a language and click “Proceed” to fill out the form.

Apply for unemployment insurance in Arizona over the phone

You can also apply for unemployment benefits in Arizona by phone by calling 1-877-600-2722. The Arizona Department of Economic Security warns that customer service centers have been receiving an unparalleled amount of phone calls during the COVID-19 outbreak, which means not every call will get through on the first attempt. The department encourages callers to call back later to try to connect, or to use the web to make an unemployment claim.

Why Happens After I File for Unemployment?

After you’ve filed your claim, your state unemployment agency will review your application. In some cases, they may contact you and/or your most recent employer to make an eligibility determination. Once you’ve been approved for benefits, the agency will calculate your benefit amount and begin paying your benefits.

Each state will dictate how much a person who files for unemployment can receive and how long it will take to start receiving benefits. The stimulus rescue package adds $600 weekly to the maximum amount, covering weeks of unemployment ending July 31. Know that the additional $600 benefit counts as income, which may affect individuals’ eligibility for means-tested programs.

In Arizona, it typically takes 14 days to process an unemployment claim. In March 2020, Arizona governor Doug Ducey waived the normal one-week waiting period for benefits and job search requirements. People whose unemployment claims in Arizona are approved receive a maximum of $240 per week. That means, with the stimulus package terms, those receiving unemployment benefits in Arizona will receive a maximum of $840 per week.

Unemployment benefits are typically paid for up to 26 weeks. The stimulus bill provides all eligible workers with an additional 13 weeks.

If you’re already receiving unemployment benefits for reasons not related to coronavirus, benefits will still be expanded and extended.

Get the Help You’re Entitled To

Everyone is in this together during these challenging and uncertain times. If you are eligible for unemployment benefits, don’t hesitate to apply for them. Receiving unemployment benefits does not affect your eligibility to receive a $1,200 stimulus check or additional $500 payments per child ages 16 and younger.