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

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.”

“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.

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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:

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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