What Is Disaster Unemployment Assistance and How Do You Apply For It?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12644498c)A person surveys damage to an apartment that was destroyed by a tornado on 10 December 2021 in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, USA, 14 December 2021.
TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock / TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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.

President Joe Biden granted a major disaster declaration request on Saturday, Dec. 11, after tornadoes devastated Kentucky. After visiting the area, he increased aid to 100% of eligible costs for “debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal Assistance.”

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“The fact is, I’m going to make sure the federal government steps up and make sure we do every single thing. We’re going to get you every single thing you need,” Biden said.

The president declared Illinois, where tornadoes took down an Amazon warehouse, and Tennessee, where storms devastated the northwestern part of the state, natural disaster areas as well. He stands ready to declare other states across the midwest hit by the raging storms disaster areas as well.

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
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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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