Everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a short-term income program sponsored by the federal government and administered by each state. Each state determines eligibility requirements and the amount given to each recipient. The most anyone in Arizona can currently receive is $240 weekly. This is the second lowest amount in the United States.


If you are separated from employment, you should apply online for UI through the Department of Economic Security (DES). After consulting with you and your former employer, a deputy will decide if you are eligible to receive benefits. A number of factors that will be considered in determining your eligibility for UI including monetary issues, the reason for your separation from employment, and others. After the initial determination, either side can appeal. A hearing will be scheduled once you appeal, usually within a month of the appeal date. DES provides a helpful overview of the appeals process on their website.


The majority of UI hearings are held over the phone through conference calling. The judge explains the hearing process and depending on the separation, the former employer or the claimant will present its case first. If the separation is a quit, the claimant goes first; if it is a termination, the former employer presents its case first. Each side can call on witnesses who have first-hand knowledge of the events in question. For a termination, the most important issue a judge will address is the final incident that led to the termination. If you are preparing for a hearing, it is critical to be able to address that information. After each side presents its case, the opposing side can ask questions about the testimony presented. After all of the evidence is presented, the judge will close the evidentiary part of the hearing and each side can make a brief closing statement.


If you have e-mail, ask the judge to e-mail you the decision, it arrives mush faster than through regular mail. If you do not win at the hearing, you can appeal the decision to the appeals board by filing a petition for review. The decision will tell you what your deadline to appeal is. Appeals after the hearing are much more difficult to win as the basis for the appeal is what was said at the hearing. If you appeal, request a written copy of the hearing transcript so that you can read through it. If you have the written transcript, you can cite to the page and line you are quoting in your appeal. If you only have the audio copy you can not do that. You may be able to obtain a transcript free of charge if you submit a declaration that you are indigent and unable to afford the cost.


If you receive benefits and then are found not eligible after a hearing, there will be an overpayment. There are three types of overpayments: administrative, non-fraud and fraud. An administrative overpayment usually occurs when a deputy finds you eligible and then the judge determines that you are not eligible. An administrative overpayment can be waived. There is paperwork that you can fill out and request a waiver. If you are denied the waiver, you can ask for a hearing. A non-fraud overpayment must be paid back and is not eligible for a waiver. Non-fraud occurs when you may have neglected to submit necessary paperwork when asked, which would have shown that you were not eligible for UI. A fraud determination occurs when you mislead UI about your separation or you work at a different job and do not report the earnings you receive while also receiving UI. A fraud overpayment must be paid back and can also disqualify you from benefits for a period of time determined by a judge.


If you have an overpayment and do not make voluntary payment, the Department of Economic Security (DES) can attach your state and federal tax returns and in some cases, garnish your wages.