What Is Disaster Unemployment Assistance and How Can It Help You?

New Brunswick, NJ USA - September 2, 2021: City of New Brunswick flooded after Hurricane Ida.
Sarah J Lee / Getty Images

If a major disaster is declared in your state, you could find yourself eligible for the disaster unemployment assistance program. The disaster unemployment assistance program, or DUA, provides temporary benefits to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster. DUA beneficiaries are also not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

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A major disaster is a natural catastrophe in which the damage is deemed too severe for state and local governments to respond and results in a presidential declaration of a disaster. Most recently, President Joe Biden granted a major disaster declaration request for 25 parishes in Louisiana, six counties in New Jersey and five counties in New York, making DUA available to businesses and residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a direct result of Hurricane Ida.

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If you lived, worked or were scheduled to work in a declared disaster area, you may qualify for assistance; however, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You no longer have a job or place to work
  • You are unable to reach your place of work
  • You cannot work due to damage to the workplace
  • You became the head of the household and are seeking work because the former head of the household died as a result of the disaster
  • You cannot work because of a disaster-related injury

The DUA program is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor oversees and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security. DUA is administered by state unemployment insurance agencies acting as agents of the federal government whenever a major disaster declaration request is granted.

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To apply for DUA benefits, check with your state’s official unemployment website. Applications must be filed within 30 days of the announcements of the availability of DUA in your state.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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