More than 57,000 unemployed Arizonans will be notified this week of their eligibility for additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed legislation providing the extension in benefits, and the Arizona Department of Economic Security has sent notification letters to those eligible for at least one additional week of benefits.
Of the more than 57,000 people, more than 7,796 had already exhausted their unemployment benefits and might now be eligible for additional payments. Steve Meissner, the DES’s director of communications, said it is imperative for those who have exhausted their benefits to begin filing immediately.
Much about the extension has yet to be determined, including how many additional weeks each recipient will receive, he said.
“It’s going to vary all over the lot because of the nature of what Congress did,” Meissner said. “They had to pass a one-size-fits-all bill that covered a lot of different circumstances. It’s going to be different for everybody. The amounts are going to be different. The length of time that they’re eligible for … and there’s some conflicts that Congress has to sort out.”
Because of the way the legislation is written, the extension in benefits may end Dec. 31, he said.
“This is a very complicated situation, and we’re having great difficulty figuring out how it applies to everyone,” Meissner said. “We sent out one letter, and everyone gets at least one week, and they’ll be another letter to a lot of the people saying they also get additional weeks.”
The impact of the federal law will differ based on several factors, including how many weeks of unemployment benefits the person has already received, he said.
“If you’re already getting the benefits, the letter will simply state how much additional benefit you will qualify for,” Meissner said. “If you had exhausted your benefits, you will get a letter saying how many weeks you are now eligible to receive, even though you had previously exhausted your benefits.”
Persons who either have been notified that they may be eligible for the additional benefits or believe they may be eligible for these benefits should file a claim immediately. Individuals who receive a paper weekly claim must use that form. Those who do not receive a paper claim can file online at www.azui.com or call (602) 364-2722.
“The people receiving this letter should be getting them by the end of this week,” Meissner said. “We’re gearing up for a big response.”