Deadline for victims of Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance is March 15

Victims of the Camp Fire in Butte County, Hill Fire in Ventura County and Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties whose employment was affected by the wildfires have until Friday, March 15, 2019, to file for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

President Trump’s amended federal disaster declaration on January 15 provides DUA benefits for people who were affected by the November 2018 fires. DUA provides temporary unemployment benefits for workers, business owners and self-employed individuals who lost their jobs or had their work hours reduced as a direct result of the disasters and who do not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance benefits.

Affected individuals can apply for DUA benefits through EDD, which will first check to see if applicants qualify for regular state unemployment benefits, and if not, process the claim for federal disaster unemployment benefits. The Employment Development Department will also review DUA claims received after the March 15 deadline to determine if there was good cause for the delayed applications and whether the applicants are eligible for DUA benefits.

DUA applies to losses beginning the week of November 11, 2018. Workers can receive benefits of up to $450 a week for a maximum of 27 weeks. These unemployment insurance benefits are offered to victims of a disaster and available to individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Worked or were self-employed, or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment, in the disaster area.
  • Cannot reach work because of the disaster and can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.
  • Can establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform is their primary source of income.
  • Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster.
  • Became the head of their households because of a death caused by the disaster.
  • Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for the regular benefits and remain unemployed as a direct result of the disasters.

To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the application is filed. Required documentation includes a Social Security number and a copy of the most recent federal income tax form or check stubs, or documentation to verify that the individuals were working or self-employed when the disaster struck. Documentation for the self-employed can be obtained from banks or government entities, or affidavits from individuals having knowledge of their business. The fastest and easiest way for new claimants to apply for DUA is to use EDD’s UI OnlineSM application, which is available in both English and Spanish. Claimants can also file for DUA by phone between 8 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday:

  • English: 1-800-300-5616
  • Spanish: 1-800-326-8937
  • Chinese (Cantonese): 1-800-547-3506
  • Chinese (Mandarin): 1-866-303-0706
  • Vietnamese: 1-800-547-2058
  • TTY: 1-800-815-9387

EDD’s Disaster-Related Services webpage includes more information for individuals and businesses impacted by disasters, including tax filing extensions for affected employers. EDD also encourages individuals to visit the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services wildfire recovery website for information on Local Assistance Centers where individuals, families and businesses can access disaster assistance programs and services.

In addition, job seekers can find the America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM location nearest them for access to job-search resources, job postings and training programs, as well as assistance with exploring career options, résumé and application preparation, career development and more. Job seekers also may connect with potential employers through CalJOBSSM, EDD’s online job-search system.

The EDD administers the federal disaster benefits program in California for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

RJ Ghilarducci

RJ Ghilarducci is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). He joined the OES team to aid in 2018's Camp, Woolsey, Hill, and Holy Fire recoveries. He previously served on Governor Gavin Newsom's campaign, worked as a newspaper reporter, and coached Division 1 college football.

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