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Three ways to maximize unemployment benefits

Three ways to maximize unemployment benefits
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By Joshua C. Black
Guest Writer

As the unemployment rate in Arizona continues to rise, the Department of Economic Security (DES) is experiencing a major increase in initial claims filings.

To give you an idea how this is impacting residents, at the end of February, 2,953 unemployment claims were filed in the state. One month later, more than 88,000 claims were filed.

This increased number of applicants means processing times for unemployment benefits are expected to be longer than usual. DES estimates it may take up to 21 days from filing to process claims. Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to get the process started.

Given the current state of the country, it’s no surprise that many Arizonans are facing the prospect of being unemployed for the first time in their lives.

Currently, the unemployment rate in Arizona sits at roughly 4.5 percent and it’s expected to rise in the next few weeks because of COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus.

As an employment lawyer, I understand the stress of losing a job and the challenges of applying for financial aid. At my office, we are sharing valuable information and support for our clients right now including the three most important tips for maximizing unemployment benefits during this unprecedented time:

Don’t delay, file today! The waiting period for unemployment benefits has been waived in Arizona. Employees who have lost a job, or had pay or hours decreased, should apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible at azui.com.

 DES recommends individuals apply now even if they are unsure if they qualify for benefits. New federal programs are being rolled out to provide supplementary relief during the global pandemic, so many additional Arizona residents will qualify for the support they need.

Indicate that your unemployment is related to COVID-19. When applying for unemployment benefits, make sure to provide information on your application that shows you lost your job because of COVID-19.

In order to qualify for the additional $600-weekly unemployment benefit provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – also known as the CARES Act – applicants must indicate that their job loss is a result of COVID-19.

The unemployment application paperwork has been updated online and now has a COVID-19 indicator that can be selected. Applicants would also be wise to submit documentation from work or a physician stating that their job loss is related to COVID-19.

Complete weekly requirements. The CARES Act allows for up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits. To ensure benefits continue for the duration of the unemployment, the applicant must complete a weekly certification that he/she is still unemployed.

Applicants can submit their certification online at azui.com. Additionally, the standard requirement that applicants be “actively seeking work” to receive benefits has been waived for those unemployed due to COVID-19.

We understand that this is a very stressful time. At the Law Office of Joshua Black, PLC, we are offering several free community clinics to help Arizona employees understand available resources and how to take advantage of the recent emergency relief provided by the CARES Act and Arizona Executive Order 2020-11.

Joshua C. Black is an Arizona employment attorney. Information:.azemploymentlawyer.com 

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