Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Arizona?
You qualify for unemployment benefits in Arizona if you meet two basic requirements:
- you must have earned at least a minimum amount in the time before you lost your job, and
- you must be out of work through no fault of your own.
If you meet these two qualifications when you apply, you will likely be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. (To keep receiving benefits after you are found eligible, you will also have to meet your state’s job search requirements; to learn more, see What Do I Have to Do to Keep Receiving Unemployment Benefits in Arizona?)
Eligibility Requirement 1: Minimum Earnings
In every state, unemployment benefits are available only to those who are temporarily out of work. If you apply after being out of the workforce for years, for example, you won’t qualify for benefits. You must have been employed relatively recently, and earned at least a minimum amount, to be eligible.
States look at an applicant’s work history during a stretch of time called the “base period.”
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.
Some states require only that you earn a minimum amount of money during the base period; other states require, either in addition or instead, that you have done some work in more than one quarter of the base period.
As long as you meet one of these two earnings requirements, you will qualify for benefits in Arizona:
- You did work in at least two of the quarters in the base period, you earned at least $5,987.50 during one quarter of the base period, and you earned at least $7,000 during the entire base period.
- You earned at least 390 times the hourly minimum wage for Arizona in your highest paid quarter of the base period, and you earned at least half the amount you earned in your highest paid quarter during one or more of the other quarters of the base period.
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.
Eligibility Requirement 2: Reasons for Unemployment
To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. If you lose your job in a layoff, reduction-in-force (RIF), downsizing, or similar job action in which positions are cut for financial or strategic reasons, you will be eligible for benefits.
However, you don’t have to be laid off to collect unemployment. You may still be eligible even if you quit your job or you were fired, depending on the circumstances.
If You Quit Your Job
You will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits in Arizona if you quit your last job without a good reason. You will still be eligible for benefits if you quit with good cause connected to your work. For example, if you are subjected to discrimination, and your reasonable efforts to remedy the situation fail, you may still qualify for unemployment.
You will also be eligible for benefits if you quit for compelling personal reasons, if you had no reasonable alternative but to leave your job. For example, if you had to quit to care for a young child with a disability, because no one else could provide care and you could not get a leave of absence from your job, you would still likely be eligible for benefits.
In some states, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits for a certain number of weeks. In other states, you may be disqualified until you get another job and earn a minimum amount (typically, this amount is less than you would have to earn to qualify for benefits in the first place). Contact the Arizona Department of Economic Security for more information.
If You Were Fired
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.
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 to find out more.
You may also be interested in:
Find out where you need to go to apply for unemployment benefits in Arizona and how to get help with the application process.
Learn the four requirements for continuing to receive unemployment benefits in Arizona and how and where to apply for weekly unemployment benefits.
Find out how and when to consider hiring a lawyer to help with your unemployment claim.