Filing for Unemployment Benefits in Arizona, United States
by Trent Wilcox

The current slumping national and local economy means that Arizona’s unemployment levels continue to increase.  Unfortunately, many citizens who have never involuntarily lost a job find themselves the victim of cutbacks, layoffs and company bankruptcies.  In the event that you find yourself unemployed through no fault of your own, Davis Miles provides the following primer on filing and processing your Arizona unemployment insurance (UI) claim.   A.             Initial Filing

There are two methods available to apply for unemployment insurance and initially open a UI claim via the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES). 1.         Online.  Use the form available at https://egov.azdes.gov/ders/ea/uiclaims/

2.         ARRA.  This is DES’ telephone UI application system.  You may call the following numbers if you wish to use this voice-activated system from a touch-tone phone:

  • Phoenix Area (602) 364-2722
  • Tucson Area  (520) 791-2722
  • Other Areas   (877) 600-2722
  • TDD number  (877) 877-6226

B.              Appeals

Arizona allows both employees and employers to appeal decisions that they believe are erroneous.  A “deputy” makes the initial determinations on UI applications with such determinations subject to appeal to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will schedule a hearing usually to be done by telephone.  The ALJ-level hearing is conducted much like an informal trial with evidence and witnesses allowed.  DES may even issue subpoenas for evidence if a party so requests.  Parties may retain an attorney to represent them during the various hearing/appeal processes.

If an employee or employer disagrees with the ALJ’s decision, either party may next appeal to the Appeals Board.  Finally, following a negative Appeals Board decision, a party has one final appeal, a Petition for Appeals Board Review of Appeal Tribunal Decision or a Request for Review of Appeals Board Decision.  Such final appeals must be made in writing whereas earlier appeals may be in writing or via telephone.

C.                Denial of Benefits

The most common reasons for denials of benefits include employee misconduct and voluntary quits.  In addition, if an employee is dishonest during the UI proceedings or turns down a chance to work, DES can deny unemployment insurance benefits.

D.                Overpayments/ Chargebacks

If you are given benefits to which DES ultimately determines you are not entitled, you must repay the amount overpaid.  Such amount may be set off against future benefit payments to which a person is legitimately entitled.

E.                 Weekly Claims

DES must verify that a UI recipient remains eligible for collecting benefits and therefore requires a weekly claim be submitted.  Failure to submit a claim during any week may result in delayed or lost benefits.  Be cognizant of state holidays; for open claims, you may have to file your weekly claim early during holiday periods.

F.                 Other Info/Pointers

  • The UI system is in place to protect the local economy and people temporarily in need of help.  The State wants people to use the system and, ultimately, most applicants receive benefits.
  • Stick with it! Use the appeal process – many claimants win on appeal after being initially denied.
  • Do not expect to get quick answers via the DES phone lines – you can be placed on hold for over an hour and people report being cut off and then having to wait in the queue for another hour or more!  Use the online information including the Q&A web pages.
  • There are deadlines for each step of the UI process from initial application through appeals.  Missing such deadlines may result in ineligibility for UI benefits.
  • Spanish and English applications are available.
  • And finally, UI benefits are taxable as income.  See your tax advisor for further information.
  • More information is available on the Arizona DES website at https://egov.azdes.gov/CMSInternet/main.aspx?menu=234&id=2550.Source:  State of Arizona, Department of Economic Security Website