DES still figuring out how back-to-work bonuses will work

Arizona Department of Economic Security
Posted at 6:29 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 14:30:03-04

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) is still figuring out how to implement the back-to-work bonuses promised by Governor Doug Ducey.

On May 13 Ducey announced the cash bonuses for people who stop receiving unemployment benefits, return to the workforce by September 6, and keep the job for ten weeks. Full-time workers making less than $25 per hour or $52,000 per year, would be eligible for $2,000 and part-time workers would be eligible for $1,000.

DES says workers will need to submit:

-pay stubs for each week worked
-an address for an employer within Arizona
-and an employer contact for verification

RELATED: Unemployed in Arizona? How to prove you're looking for work

But ABC15 has learned that DES will have to create a new portal where Arizonans can upload the documentation and that the agency has not yet chosen a company to create it.

Spokesperson Tasya Peterson told ABC15 in a written statement, "DES is currently assessing vendors to implement the appropriate system for the Return to Work Bonuses (RTWB) portal."

The RTWB program is scheduled to begin accepting applications on July 10.

More info from DES can be found here.

Implementing new software is an area where the agency has struggled when attempting to pay out unemployment claims during the pandemic. It has also had well-documented issues with call center agents relaying inaccurate information to claimants who call in. Peterson said for this program, "DES will ensure general RTWB information is available to all unemployment call center agents and will also dedicate staff specifically for RTWB questions."

The bonus program will also require verification which Peterson said will be separate from the process used to adjudicate unemployment claims and "will utilize different staff."

A different incentive, for childcare assistance, was scheduled to begin on June 1.

Families can apply for three months of childcare assistance if:

-children are 12 years and under
-parents received unemployment benefits during or before the week ending May 15
-make less than $25 per hour or $52,000 per year and
-are currently employed.

DES has not yet been able to give any information about how to access Ducey's other back-to-work incentives of $7 million for community college and $6 million for GED assistance.