Unemployment Benefits for Independent Contractors & Sole Proprietors in Arizona

By SAAR Director of Govt. Affairs Suzanne Brown
Updated May 27, 2020

As of the week of May 12, 2020, the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) launched a whole new online application and follow-up reporting system for those individuals eligible for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which includes Independent Contractors & Sole Proprietors.

From the new Arizona’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Portal an application can be filed and claimants can login, manage their profile information, and file their UI Weekly Claims.

Also, with the rollout of the new PUA online system, DES began paying out PUA benefits to all eligible applicants who had previously filed but whose applications had been placed on hold until the new system was ready. Initial PUA payments mailed out by DES only represented the minimum amount for three weeks of benefits for claims filed between February 2, 2020 and May 2, 2020.

Once a claimant follows-up and provides the proper wage and/or self-employment documentation, then any additional retroactive benefits are calculated and issued if applicable. PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to qualifying individuals, as defined in the CARES Act, and cannot be paid for weeks of unemployment ending after December 31, 2020.

If you had already filed a claim prior to May 12, you should have already been contacted by DES and asked to submit any additional required eligibility documentation and begin filing your weekly UI Claim.

If you have any questions about the new online system, you can check out the DES PUA Claimant Guide.


Original post (Apr. 16, 2020)

The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is being administered by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES).

Distribution of funds to Independent Contractors and Sole Proprietors is still a few weeks away pending further guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). However, applications are being taken at this time.

It is very important that Independent Contractors properly apply by filling out the application form with Your Name as the “Employer” as well as the “Applicant”.
Your associated brokerage firm is NOT your “Employer”.

Be prepared that your application will initially be “denied” by DES, but don’t panic. What you are actually being denied is unemployment benefits from the state’s unemployment program. According to DES, this “denial” will then trigger your application to be identified as eligible under the federal PUA program.

Additional information:

  • DES is trying to implement a 13-week extension to the traditional 26-week limit
  • PUA is focused on ANY income disruption since Feb. 2 and will back pay up to $600/wk
  • The current PUA program will cover individuals through July 31, 2020
  • Potential applicants need to diligently track any/all income to prove disruption.

Additional resources:
Unemployment for Independent Contractors
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQs
COVID-19 Resources for REALTORS®