PHOENIX — Filing for unemployment is proving to be a maddening process. If you have questions about unemployment, go to des.az.gov and click on "DES Services related to COVID-19."
Here are three common questions:
Question: "I've been unemployed since March 9. I'm a freelance catering chef. I got an email from AZDES stating I may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance-but NOTHING has come through."
Answer: If you already applied for unemployment insurance benefits and you think you may be eligible for PUA, the department will contact you when further action is needed. Keep a record of your earnings each week. The information will be required to determine your eligibility when PUA is implemented on May 12.
Question: "My mother applied for unemployment and is denied because they say 'she does not make enough money' to get benefits. What should she do?"
Answer: The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program passed by Congress is meant to help people who don’t typically qualify because they don’t make enough. DES will review all applications that have been determined "monetarily ineligible" since February 2 to determine eligibility. Unfortunately, this also means you have to wait to find out if you will be eligible.
Question: “People are having issues on their claims … they’re getting these Bank of America debit cards but when they go to activate them, when they go to check their balance, there’s no money on them.”
Answer: DES acknowledges it’s possible you will get a debit card after applying for unemployment, but there may not be money on it. Here is the reply they provided 12 News:
"Your EPC card will have a zero balance until your first benefit payment has processed. You can review your UI claim information online through the weekly claims portal to determine the status of your benefit payments. UI benefit payments are released once your application is processed and you have met all eligibility requirements. If issues were detected on your UI application, the Department will need to determine whether you will be entitled to benefits. If you meet all eligibility requirements and payments are released, it may take up to 2 business days to post to your EPC account.
"If you have checked your UI claim information online or by telephone and find that a payment was issued and the amount is not showing up on your EPC, please contact Bank of America at 1-855-847-2030 (Hearing-impaired customers call TTY: 1 (866) 656-5913."