Disaster Unemployment Assistance Benefits Now Available for Victims of Southern California Wildfires and Mudslides

SACRAMENTO – Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are now available for workers, business owners and self-employed individuals who lost their jobs or had their work hours substantially reduced as a result of the wildfires and associated flooding, mudslides and debris flows in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. President Trump’s amended federal disaster declaration on January 15 provides DUA benefits for people affected by the disasters that occurred in December 2017 and January 2018, but who do not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance benefits.

DUA provides temporary unemployment benefits to people whose jobs or work hour losses are a direct result of the disasters. 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 regular state unemployment benefits. The deadline for filing claims is Tuesday, February 20, 2018. 

“Disaster Unemployment Assistance can help workers who lost jobs or could not work because of these catastrophes,” said EDD Director Patrick W. Henning. “EDD is here to help those affected by these disasters recover some of their lost income through this program.”

DUA applies to losses beginning the week of December 10, 2017, and workers can receive benefits of up to $450 a week for a maximum period of 30 weeks. These unemployment insurance 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 who do not qualify for regular unemployment 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 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. Such 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 online application, “eApply4UI,” which is available in both English and Spanish.

Claimants can also file 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

NOTE: When applying for DUA benefits, it is critical that individuals identify themselves as being unemployed due to the disasters.

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 website for information on local assistance centers, which provide referrals for individual and public assistance.

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.

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Monica Vargas

Monica is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been involved in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Valley Fire, Butte Fire, historic drought, Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident and 2017 winter storms. She previously served Cal OES as an analyst in international affairs, technology operations and executive staff support.

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