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Wed, June 03

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program launched by Arizona Department of Economic Security
More than $350 million in initial payments sent to 165,000 people

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a news conference. (Ross D. Franklin/AP, file)

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a news conference. (Ross D. Franklin/AP, file)

The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) on May 11 launched the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for individuals who were previously ineligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, including self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers.

DES officials stated in a news release that they mailed out checks on the 11th to 165,000 individuals who had filed an initial claim for benefits between February 2, 2020, and May 2, 2020.

Those individuals did not meet the criteria for regular UI, but they did meet the eligibility criteria for PUA. They will receive an initial payment for the minimum PUA benefit of $117 per week plus $600 in weekly benefits from the CARES Act. These first payments will include three weeks’ worth of benefits.

“The Department of Economic Security has worked around the clock to stand up this new program and get these benefits to Arizonans faster,” Gov. Doug Ducey stated in the news release. “Getting assistance to those in need will continue to be a priority as we work to gradually and safely re-energize Arizona’s economy.”

Tom Betlach of the DES director’s office said the organization understands the importance of these benefits.

“DES recognizes how critical this funding is for many individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance,” Betlach added. “We are making these initial payments totaling more than $350 million to get money into the pockets of Arizonans as quickly as possible.”

Pandemic unemployment benefits are available for weeks of unemployment from Feb. 2, 2020, through the week ending Dec. 26, 2020. PUA provides a benefit ranging from $117 to $240 per week, for as many as 39 weeks.

Individuals getting PUA benefits will also get an additional $600 weekly in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits between the weeks of March 29, 2020, and July 25, 2020.

As of 6 p.m. May 12, applicants may access the PUA system to provide information needed to confirm ongoing eligibility (or to determine initial eligibility for new applicants) and to determine weekly benefit amounts.

Over the weekend of May 9 and 10, DES told workers who had previously applied for UI, but were denied eligibility, about the additional information they needed to provide.

Those individuals were scheduled to receive updated information on May 11. If an individual does not know whether his or her claim was denied for being “monetarily ineligible” or for some other reason, he or she can check claims’ status by logging into their accounts on the DES claims website.

Per federal requirements, new applicants may need to file a regular UI claim based on their individual circumstances. If they are denied regular UI benefits, they could file a PUA claim as of May 11.

Beginning May 12, individuals were to receive a formal notice from DES about PUA, and additional specifics on which documentation could be used to determine ongoing eligibility. This information includes, but is not limited to, 2019 tax information, on the PUA application site.

Both new applicants and individuals who were previously denied submit documentation at azui.com with a File a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claim.

Federal requirements for PUA use wages and/or self-employment information from calendar year 2019 to determine the PUA benefit. Specifics on which documentation can be used to determine ongoing eligibility, which includes but is not limited to 2019 tax information, will also be provided on the PUA application site.

Beginning May 17, 2020, individuals must also file weekly certifications for each week for which they are claiming eligibility for benefits, including retroactive certifications back to their last date of employment. Individuals will have to file certifications for each week for which they are claiming eligibility for benefits to receive payments. Individuals who have already received the initial phase of payment will not see the option to certify for the three weeks for which they have already been paid.

The fastest way to receive PUA benefits will be through direct deposit. Individuals can provide financial information to register for direct deposit through the PUA system. If they do not register for direct deposit, they will receive an Electronic Payment Card (EPC) through Bank of America.

Visit https://des.az.gov/pua for updates and more information.

Information provided by the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

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