Some Arizona parents haven’t received federal unemployment aid

More than a 1,300 jobless Arizona parents who pay child support have had their federal unemployment weekly aid of $600 withheld, even though the Department of Economic Security already deducts child support obligations from state unemployment payments. 

The federal payments were designed to be a lifeline to Americans who suddenly found themselves out of work or working reduced hours as the economy contracted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. DES spokesman Brett Bezio said the federal unemployment payments have not been made because of “system programming” specific to cases of parents paying child support who are also receiving state unemployment benefits. 

He said an estimated 1,360 parents are affected by this. 

“They should receive retroactive (federal unemployment) payments early this week,” Bezio told Arizona Mirror in an email Tuesday morning. 

Bezio added that the parents affected include those who don’t owe child support. 

Arizona the second-lowest weekly unemployment payment in the nation: Jobless residents can receive up to $240 weekly for up to 26 weeks. Changes to the state’s unemployment program as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic allow more people to apply and receive weekly aid. 

Additionally, people who are jobless or experienced loss of income due to the economic shutdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can collect a $600 weekly unemployment payment until July 15 through the federal CARES Act.  

On April 13, DES began issuing federal unemployment aid payments to people who were approved for state unemployment benefits. 

Parents who have child support obligations aren’t the only ones in the state experiencing delays in much-needed unemployment benefits. 

Approximately 175,000 state workers who are jobless due to COVID-19 and don’t qualify for the Arizona unemployment insurance program because they don’t meet the earnings history — like self-employed individuals, contract workers or gig workers — have to wait until after May 12 to have their cases reviewed.   

How to apply for unemployment in Arizona

Applications are submitted online at The website is not available Friday after 6 p.m. and Saturday. People without internet access can file by phone on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. through the unemployment insurance call center, 877-600-2722.

The call center answered 23,700 calls the week ending on April 17, according to DES.

Who is eligible

There are two notable changes to the state’s unemployment insurance program: people are no longer required to prove they are actively seeking work to be eligible, and people no longer have to be jobless for a full week to apply.

DES is encouraging jobless residents to apply “as soon as they know that their employment and income will be affected by COVID-19.” 

People who are not eligible for state unemployment benefits but qualify for federal aid — like self-employed individuals, contract workers or gig workers — still have to submit an initial application to the state and continue declaring the state every week that they’re jobless.  

What documents are needed

People need to provide their Social Security number, mailing address, county of residence and, if available, their driver License or state-issued ID number. 

They’ll also need information about their employment history including: names, addresses, and phone numbers of all employers for the last 18 months; the mailing address and telephone number for the most recent employer; the last day worked immediately prior to filing the UI claim; and the amount (before deductions) and date of any payment for severance, vacation, holiday or unused sick pay.

For contractors, self-employed and gig economy workers who don’t have this information on work history available, DES encourages them to “respond truthfully, and to follow any guidance provided within the application for those specific questions,” Bezio said.

Laura Gómez
Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for Spanish-language news and feature reporting. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.