PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) -- Many folks who have found themselves out of work have questions about their unemployment benefits. The Arizona Department of Economic Security has been scrambling to make a series of changes to its unemployment insurance system, as it faces an unprecedented surge in applications for unemployment benefits.

But good news: some of those benefits could be on their way soon. A tweet Friday says DES plans to issue the $600 in additional Unemployment Insurance benefits by the end of next week. Funds will be retroactive as of March 29 and distributed with normal benefits for every eligible week a claim is filed until April 25.

DES says no additional steps are needed to receive these funds.

Claudia Carmichael, who lives in Prescott, has tried to help her daughter navigate the unemployment claims process after she lost her job at a restaurant, but they've hit roadblocks with the application.

Despite an executive order signed by Gov. Doug Ducey that temporarily removed work search requirements for people who apply for unemployment insurance, the information still appeared to be required on the agency's website. Carmichael said she's concerned the system issue will delay critical benefits for her daughter and others who need them.

"When you go on the website, it doesn't say anything about that. It still has the requirement of still going out and applying for work," Carmichael said. "Maybe they're a little behind the eight ball on that, but it would just be nice to know that you don't have to apply for someplace that will put you into dangerous situations."

Brett Bezio, a spokesman for DES, told 3 On Your Side that applications are still being processed regardless of whether applicants are providing information about their job search.

Arizona Department of Economic Security

"DES is actively making changes to our system to reflect the additional eligibility flexibility around work search requirements," he said in an email.

Bezio cautions that some Arizonans may still face delays in receiving their benefits. DES said it could take 21 days to process claims, compared to the typical 14 days. The agency hired dozens of people to try to help with the massive surge in weekly claims, from an average of 3,500 to nearly 89,000 last week.

Arizona's weekly unemployment insurance payment is capped at $240. The $2 trillion federal stimulus package will temporarily add the $600 per week.


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