Here are three things to keep in mind as you get started:
1. You may be eligible for benefits even if you quit or were fired for cause.
Some people mistakenly believe that unemployment is available only to employees who are laid off. However, you don't have to lose your job in a layoff to qualify for benefits. The key question is whether you are out of work without fault on your part. So, if you were forced to quit your job in lieu of being fired, or you were fired because you don't have the necessary skills for your job, you could still be eligible for benefits.
Unemployment benefits are payments made by the state to people who are temporarily out of work through no fault of their own. They are intended to partially replace your lost wages while you look for a new job.
These benefits are provided through an insurance program run jointly by the federal government and Arizona. Taxes paid by employers in Arizona fund the program and employers may not deduct these taxes from employee wages. If an employer asks you to agree to have the unemployment insurance tax deducted from your wages, you can refuse. Such an agreement is not enforceable.
The base period is the length of time used both to determine your eligibility for unemployment benefits and to calculate the amount you will receive.
In Arizona, the base period is the first four of the five complete calendar quarters immediately before you filed for benefits. For example, if you file for benefits on July 10, 2015, your base period will be from April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015. It would not include the most recent complete calendar quarter before you filed (April 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015) or the first ten days of July 2015.
If you did not earn enough during the base period to qualify for benefits because you had an injury covered by workers' compensation, you may be able to use an extended base period that includes earnings from before you were injured. In Arizona, the extended base period is the first four of the last five calendar quarters before you became disabled.
How Are Benefits Calculated?
Each state has its own formula for determining your weekly benefit amount: how much money you will receive each week as your unemployment benefit. Typically, your weekly benefit amount is some percentage of your earnings during the entire base period or the quarter of the base period in which you were paid the most.
In Arizona, you can receive unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks.
In times of high unemployment, the extended benefits program pays for 13 to 20 additional weeks of benefits. However, the unemployment rate is not currently high enough in any state for this program to kick in.
Ways to Apply for Unemployment Benefits
You can apply for unemployment benefits in Arizona a couple of ways:
Here at Legal Consumer, we want to help people find answers to everyday legal questions about important topics like bankruptcy, Obamacare, inheritance, and more.
Now, we’ve turned our attention to employment law. Because, while almost everyone has (or has had) a job, it can be surprisingly tough to get good, high-quality local information about workplace rights.
We'll be adding new topics over time, but we’ve started with unemployment benefits. If you’ve recently lost your job, unemployment benefits can be a real lifesaver. They replace some of your income, temporarily, while you look for a new job. But not everyone qualifies for benefits, and the amount and duration of benefits can vary a lot from state to state.
On this website, when you choose your state or enter your zip code, you will quickly learn:
who is eligible for unemployment benefits
how to apply for unemployment in your state
how much you can expect to receive each week
what to do if your claim for benefits is denied
We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get the information, forms, and resources you need to get the unemployment benefits you’re entitled to and move on with your job search.
Can I Collect Unemployment Benefits If I Was Wrongfully Terminated?
In order to collect unemployment, you must meet two basic requirements. First, you must have earned at least a minimum amount, set by state law, in the time before you lost your job. Second, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. For more information about these requirements, see Who is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Arizona?
If you lose your job in a layoff, reduction-in-force (RIF), or downsizing, you will be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. But, these are not the only ways that employees lose their jobs. Your eligibility for benefits depends upon the reason you become unemployed.
If You Were Fired for Misconduct
Generally-speaking, if you are terminated, you can collect unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona. But, there is an exception to that general rule in Arizona:
You may not be eligible for benefits if you were fired for misconduct. In Arizona, misconduct includes deliberately violating rules, willfully disregarding the employer's interests, or negligence that demonstrates either a wrongful intent or a substantial and intentional disregard of the employer's interests or the employee's job duties. Examples of misconduct for which you would be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits include stealing from your employer, coming to work while intoxicated, competing with your employer, and insubordination.
Each state defines misconduct. Check Arizona's definition of misconduct to see if the reason given for your termination may disqualify you from receiving unemployment insurance benefits. If you were fired for a reason that does not fall within that definition, you may be eligible to collect unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona.
You may be disqualified either for a set number of weeks or until you get another job and earn a minimum amount, depending on state law. In some states, the length of the disqualification period depends on why you were fired. Contact the Arizona Department of Economic Security for more information.
If You Were Wrongfully Terminated
Sometimes employers fire employees for reasons that are illegal, such as an employee’s refusal to submit to sexual harassment. If you were fired for reasons other than misconduct, you may have been wrongfully terminated.
The definition of “wrongful termination” varies from state to state. If your employer fired you for no reason or for a reason that violates the law in Arizona, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona. If your employer fired you for a reason that you believe violates Arizona law, or if you believe your employer fired you for a reason other than the reason it has given, you may want to speak to an employment lawyer. See Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Unemployment Benefits in Arizona? for information on finding a lawyer.
If you believe you were fired because you complained about your employer's violation of wage and hour laws (like the laws entitling employees to overtime, the minimum wage, tips, breaks, and so on), visit our site on minimum wage and overtime law, which includes information on your rights to fair pay and how to find a lawyer if you think your employer owes you wages.
In Arizona, you can earn up to $240 per week in unemployment benefits.
Every state has its own rules for calculating unemployment benefits. Typically, the amount you receive each week is based on your earnings when you were employed. After all, unemployment benefits are intended to replace some of the income you lost along with your job, and tide you over until you find new work.
Calculating Your Benefit Amount
Your weekly unemployment benefit amount depends on your earnings during the base period.
In Arizona, you can receive unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks.
Each state sets its own rules for how long unemployment benefits last. Until quite recently, virtually all states offered a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits. In the last five or six years, however, some states have changed their rules on duration of benefits (in most cases, to offer benefits for a shorter period of time).
There are two programs that provide additional weeks of benefits in times of high unemployment: extended benefits (EB) and emergency unemployment compensation (EUC).
After your application for unemployment insurance benefits is approved by the Arizona Department of Economic Security, you can’t just sit back and collect benefits—you have to do certain things to stay eligible. After your initial claim for unemployment benefits is approved in Arizona. You have to:
be unemployed or underemployed (generally, earning close to what you receive in weekly benefits)
be able and available to work
be actively looking for work, and
file to continue to receive benefits.
Unemployed Or Underemployed
You have to be unemployed or earning significantly less than you used to (also called being “underemployed”) to continue to receive unemployment benefits. You have to report any earnings from work to the Arizona Department of Economic Security. In some states, you will still be entitled unemployment benefits if you earn less than your weekly benefit amount; about half the states will allow you to continue receiving benefits even if you earn a bit more than your weekly benefit amount. You will be allowed to set aside some of what you earn (the amount varies from state to state). The rest will be subtracted from your usual weekly benefit amount, and you will receive the difference. For more information about receiving partial unemployment benefits, see How Much Will I Collect in Unemployment Benefits in Arizona?
If Arizona Department of Economic Security denies you unemployment insurance benefits, you can appeal. After you file your initial claim for unemployment benefits, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will send you a written determination of your eligibility for benefits and, if it finds you eligible, how much you will receive in benefits. But, if the Arizona Department of Economic Security finds that you are not eligible for benefits or grants you benefits in a lower amount than you believe you are entitled to, you can appeal that decision. And, if the Arizona Department of Economic Security finds you eligible to receive benefits, your ex-employer can appeal that decision.
Having your own lawyer to represent you in the unemployment insurance benefits process in Arizona will level the playing field for you—because your ex-employer will be represented. Your ex-employer is almost certainly going to have a lawyer or two offering guidance through the Arizona unemployment process. This legal advice can give your ex-employer an edge over you in the process, especially if they intend to challenge your claim for benefits. Your own lawyer can:
Help you figure out if you are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona
Tell you if your employer’s stated reason for terminating you is valid and will bar benefits
Guide you through Arizona’s unemployment insurance benefits claim process
Advise you on how to keep receiving unemployment insurance benefits, and
Assist you if you need to appeal a denial of unemployment insurance benefits by the Arizona Department of Economic Security