Labor and Employment

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), also referred to as disaster relief and emergency assistance, provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a result of a disaster that has officially been declared.

DUA Eligibility

You may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance if:

  • you aren't already eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits under any state or federal law, and
  • your employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster

Typically, this includes:

  • Self-employed individuals who lost their businesses or suffered a substantial interruption of activities as a direct result of a major disaster
  • Individuals who no longer have a job because of a disaster
  • Individuals who cannot reach their employment as a result of the disaster
  • Individuals who were scheduled to start work but became unemployed because they no longer have a job as a direct result of a disaster
  • Individuals who were previously unemployed but have become the breadwinner or major supporter of their household due to changes in family status directly related to the disaster
  • Individuals unemployed as a result of an injury caused as a direct result of a disaster

Other than exceptions for persons with an injury and for self-employed individuals performing activities to return to self-employment, individuals must actively look for work and be willing and able to work to receive DUA benefits. These are the same requirements to be eligible for state unemployment insurance benefits.

DUA Benefits

DUA is available beginning with the first week following the date the major disaster is declared and up to 26 weeks after the disaster. Your unemployment status must continue to be a result of the disaster.

Recipients receive the same weekly benefit that their state unemployment insurance (UI) would provide.

DUA benefits will be reduced if you receive other benefits such as private insurance, supplemental unemployment benefits, worker's compensation or a pro-rated retirement pension or annuity.

Filing a DUA Claim

DUA can be claimed by following the guidelines made public by the your state. You can also contact your State Unemployment Insurance Agency. Most likely, someone will be available to assist if no computers or phones are provided.

You should apply no later than 30 days after the disaster was officially declared. The DUA application requires proof of employment and earnings, as well as a Social Security number. You have three full weeks after filing the application to provide this proof.

Be sure to keep copies of your Social Security card and these documents either off-premises or in a safe or other secure storage area.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Am I eligible for DUA if my regular unemployment insurance runs out?
  • Am I eligible for DUA if I did not work in the disaster area but I am unemployed as a result of the disaster?
  • Where do I file my application for DUA?
  • What happens if I am unable to find the documents to prove I worked prior to the disaster?
  • What if I don't have access to a computer or phone to apply for benefits?
  • Can I appeal a decision if I am turned down for DUA benefits?
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