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Return To Work Bonus In Arizona: After the Pandemic

return to work bonus Arizona

Arizona is one of the 26 states to revoke the disbursement of Unemployment Insurance benefits. This decision is not a complete surprise as the search for work requirement was reinstated last month to remain eligible for benefits. To encourage and ease unemployed people to start working again, Governor Ducey introduced a return to work bonus in Arizona as a part of the ‘Back To Work Program’.

Read on to find out the eligibility to the bonus program, application process, and more.

Why Did Arizona Stop The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation?

According to the monthly report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s unemployment rate stands at 5.9% while the unemployed people across the country are at 9.5 million. However, many states are complaining of labor shortages. The situation has led to theorizing from experts and lawmakers alike.

Experts opine that the low wages being offered despite stressful conditions might be the problem. Some lawmakers, on the other hand, regard the assistance programs to be sending a wrong message to the unemployed. Considering that many low-income groups receive benefits that are higher than what they used to earn, there might be some truth to their statements.

Many states have started with reinstating the search for work requirements to remain eligible for Unemployment Insurance and slowly easing into stopping the benefits altogether. To make this transition easier, some states have also been introducing return to work bonus checks to incentivize the unemployed to return to work, with Arizona being one of them.

What is Arizona’s Back To Work Program?

Governor Ducey and the Department of Economic Security (DES) announced Arizona’s Back To Work Program on May 13, 2021. The program includes education incentives, return to work bonus, and child care assistance to help the unemployed transition back into the workforce. Among these, child care assistance and return to work initiatives are available for applying. 

The child care assistance initiative will be provided to individuals with children who are planning to rejoin the workforce after being unemployed. The state will provide for child care for three months. The return to work bonus initiative will provide a one-time payment of up to $2,000 for eligible claimants.

What Is The Eligibility Criteria For Arizona’s Return-To-Work Bonus?

You are eligible for the Return-to-Work Bonus in Arizona if the following criteria apply to you – 

  • If you are a resident of Arizona
  • If you filed, received, or deemed eligible for unemployment benefits in Arizona on May 8, 2021 or May 15, 2021
  • If you start working at a qualified employer between May 13, 2021 and September 6, 2021 and no longer receive unemployment benefits
  • If you earn $25 or less, or $52,000 annually at your job
  • If you did not receive back to work bonus before

 Another return to work program eligibility criteria is verifiable employment in Arizona. For employment verification purposes, you should submit the following – 

  • An employer’s contact information
  • A business address or home address (if it’s a remote job) within Arizona
  • Pay stubs from employers with the number of hours worked and amount paid

How To Apply For Arizona’s Return to Work Bonus?

Arizona’s Department of Economic Security allows you to apply for Arizona’s return to work bonus through an online portal on their official website. You can also find out how to apply for any of their back to work programs.

How Do Arizona’s Return To Work Payments Work?

Governor Doug Ducey has allocated $300 million for the return to work program. The bonuses will be awarded till November 15, 2021 or when the set amount is exhausted, whichever happens first.

You’ll receive a bonus check of $2,000 if you work 320 hours or more consecutively over a ten week period at a qualifying job. You’ll receive a bonus check of $1,000 if you work 160 hours or more consecutively over a ten week period. Note that you should rejoin the workforce between May 13, 2021 and September 6, 2021 to maintain your eligibility.

The payments will be deposited directly by the DES after you stop receiving unemployment benefits and complete the above work requirements. Other payment methods may become available at a later date.

Closing Thoughts

The return to work bonus is a lucrative incentive along with the other support programs launched by the Arizona government. As the federal unemployment benefits in Arizona have already ended, you should focus your efforts on regaining employment soon. The bonus is handed out on a first come first serve basis, so time is of the essence.

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  1. I’m trying to find out how much money I was paid by unemployment in 2021. I did not receive a tax statement. I do not know where to look to get this information so I can file my taxes.

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