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Unemployment Benefits Eligibility
General Benefits Eligibility Criteria
As a working employee, you are covered by unemployment insurance under the Arizona Department of Economic Security. This means that your employer contributes quarterly to the Arizona Unemployment Trust, which entitles you to collect unemployment insurance benefits when you meet specific eligibility requirements upon becoming separated from employment.
Work Eligibility Criteria
- Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own (fully or partially): Surrounding circumstances that caused you to become separated from employment must not be the direct result of misconduct, purposeful violation(s) of workplace rules or regulations, or for personal reasons. Keep in mind that poor performance is not cause to exclude you from eligibility to collect unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona.
- Able to Work: You must be capable of performing suitable work in a similar job position to previous employments or have enough experience to train for a viable position with reasonable expectations continuing employment.
- Available to Work: You must be ready for immediate reemployment opportunities. You are responsible to make provisions as well as arrangements for suitable accommodations in order to work. No personal circumstances should hold you from starting a new job right away and from obtaining child care.
- Actively Seeking Work: You must show a practical effort toward achieving suitable employment. Your actions in seeking work should be proactive and purposeful to gaining employment as soon as possible.
- Register with Department of Economic Security Employment Service: It is a requirement for you to be registered to work before you can collect any Unemployment Insurance benefits. Upon submitting an application, the DES will use the information you provided to register you with the Arizona Job Connection. (For more information on Arizona Employment Services and Job Connection Registration, refer to the Unemployment Benefits Compensation section)
Wages Eligibility Criteria
To qualify for unemployment benefits in Arizona, you must meet a required eligible amount of covered wage earnings over a Base Period. Your Base Period is determined by the gross wages you earned from an employer(s) over 12 months.
A Base Period includes earnings in the first four of the last five calendar quarters previous to your initial claim filing quarter. Arizona recognizes Traditional and Alternate Base Periods.
Traditional: Earned wages in Arizona at least 390 times the state Minimum Wage ($8.05 per hour) in your highest earning calendar quarter. Earnings in the remaining three qualifying Base Period quarters must equal at least half of the highest earning quarter (combined).
Earned wages in at least 2 quarters of your Base Period that totals $7,000, with one quarter earnings at least $5,987.50.
Alternate: You could be eligible to collect unemployment insurance benefits, even if you don’t qualify under the Traditional Base Period requirements if you became disabled and received Worker’s Compensation. The department will consider the wages you earned directly before you suffered a work-related injury. The Alternate Base Period is the previous four of the last five calendar quarters you worked before you were no longer able to work.
ALL of the following conditions must be met to qualify under the Alternate Base Period:
- Eligible to a claim for unemployment insurance under the current Base Period, and
- Earned Base Period wages that were not used to claim previous unemployment insurance benefits before you became disabled, and
- You file the claim within two years of your injury, and
- File your claim within four weeks of the last week you received payment from Worker’s Compensation and were deemed disabled, and
- You attempt to return to your previous employer before the work-related injury occurred.
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Unemployment Availability Limits
When you open a claim for unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona, a Base Year is established. Your Benefit Year is 12 months and begins on the Sunday of the week in which you file an initial claim to collect benefits. You can collect benefits for the life of the claim, or until you have collected the maximum award amount of your claim as determined by your Base Period covered gross wages.
The maximum award amount of UI benefits that you can collect during your Benefit Year is one-third of your qualifying Base Period wages. This amount cannot exceed 26 times your weekly claimed benefits. (For more information, refer to the Unemployment Compensation and Requirements section.)
Seasonal, Federal, and Ex-Military Workers
If you were employed in a job that is considered seasonal by industry standards, you can only collect unemployment benefits if your wages earned fall within the Base Period, and your current unemployed status is not due to customary seasonal industry layoffs.
Ex-military workers’ eligibility for unemployment benefits is dependent upon the reason for your separation from service and your ability to show proper documentation.
Federal employee qualification depends on what state you were last under civilian-federal employment, and the unemployment insurance rules and regulations of that state.
There are no provisions by the Department of Economic Security of Arizona for extending the duration of your claim past the maximum Benefit Year of 12 months. Once your Benefit Year expires, you can only collect further unemployment benefits if you qualify to file a claim for a Subsequent Benefit Year.
To qualify, you must show proof that you earned wages after the start date of your initial Benefit Year, and earned at least eight times your Weekly Benefit Amount for your new claim.