Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits now available for those affected by fires in Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties

Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are now available for workers, business owners and self-employed individuals who lost their jobs or businesses, or had their work hours substantially reduced as a result of the Camp Fire in Butte County, Hill Fire in Ventura County and Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. President Trump’s federal disaster declaration on November 12 provides DUA benefits for people who are affected by the fires, but who do not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance benefits.

DUA provides temporary unemployment benefits to people whose jobs or work hour losses, or loss of businesses are a direct result of a disaster. Affected individuals are encouraged to apply for DUA through the California Employment Development Department (EDD), which will first check to see if applicants can qualify for state unemployment benefits. The deadline for filing claims is December 14, 2018.

“These major fires have claimed lives, destroyed property and infrastructure, and caused unemployment and job losses,” said EDD Director Patrick W. Henning.“We encourage all of those impacted by this disaster to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance to help recover some of their lost income during this difficult time.”

DUA applies to losses beginning the week of November 11, 2018, and individuals can receive up to $450 a week in benefits for a maximum period of 26 weeks. These unemployment assistance benefits are offered to victims of a disaster and are available to individuals who meet any 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 or 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 was 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 regular unemployment benefits and remain unemployed as a direct result of the disaster.

To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA 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 support that the individuals were working or self- employed when the disaster occurred. 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 UIOnline application, which is available in both English and Spanish.

Claimants can also apply for DUA by phone between 8 a.m. and 12 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

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 California 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 CalJOBS, 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.

Robb Mayberry

Robb Mayberry is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He has assisted in the response and recovery efforts with some of California’s worst disasters, including the San Refugio Oil Spill, the Valley and Butte Wildfires, Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Erskine Fire, and the Winters Storms of 2017. Prior to public service, he spent 25 years managing the public and media relations for some of Northern California’s largest healthcare organizations.

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