Arizonans Who Were on Unemployment Before Pandemic Still Awaiting Extension

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By Jessica Swarner

May 19, 2020

Despite approval in late March, DES still hasn’t announced when unemployment extensions will be available. 

Although Arizonans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits have been promised an extension due to the coronavirus pandemic, they are still waiting to see that money come through. 

Arizona allows people to receive unemployment checks for 26 weeks. Some people who struggled to find work before the pandemic are seeing their benefits run out at a time when many businesses are still closed or are operating with reduced staff. 

RELATED: Read This If You’re Unemployed in Arizona And Have Been Offered Your Job Back

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), Arizonans in this situation total about 7,000 people and are supposed to be receiving relief thanks to the federal Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security Act. The legislation created the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends benefits another 13 weeks.

But despite the CARES Act being passed in late March, the Arizona Department of Economic Security still hasn’t announced when PEUC will be available. 

The DES website states: 

“PEUC provides an additional 13 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits for people who remain unemployed after they’ve exhausted their traditional unemployment benefits. PEUC is not yet available in Arizona. Our Unemployment Insurance team is currently working on implementing the extension of benefits and will provide an update when possible.”

This lagging process mirrors that of the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which allows people who don’t traditionally qualify for benefits to receive relief. Arizona didn’t launch its system for the program until May 12, long after some states had begun operating their versions. 

RELATED: Denied For Unemployment? You Might Be Eligible For Arizona’s PUA Program During the Pandemic After All

ABC 15 reported that at least eight other states are already operating PEUC programs.

Confusion due to Arizona’s delays in these systems and other problems with unemployment led to the creation of a Facebook group dedicated to helping people navigate through their claims process.

Nearly 654,000 Arizonans have filed for unemployment, including PUA, since businesses began shutting down in the state.

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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