Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
According to FEMA, “a major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.”
One of these programs is Disaster Unemployment Assistance which provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not, otherwise, eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. DUA is 100% federally funded for all states but is only available to individuals who are not otherwise eligible for regular UI. For example, an individual may have exhausted the 26 weeks on a regular UI claim and then became unemployed as the result of a disaster. S/he would be a candidate for DUA.
DUA Claims are 100% federally funded and do not impact SUI accounts or tax liability.
Major Disaster Areas are approved by the President of the United States, cover multiple counties and are for a set period of time called the Disaster Assistance Period.
Eligibility for DUA benefits is typically isolated to the weeks outlined in the DAP which can last up to 26 weeks after the date the disaster was declared by the President.
In the event employees are affected by a major natural disaster, there are best practices as employer should follow:
- Determine when and where the event has been declared a major natural disaster by the President. State declarations by the Governor DO NOT trigger DUA. Keep in mind that the declaration often comes days or even weeks after the actual event. You can check the FEMA website, as well as the relevant state unemployment website(s).
- Tip: Equifax UC clients enjoy a proactive bulletin from our service team when DAPs are declared.
- Note the DAP associated with the declaration and upon receipt of an unemployment claim in that window, check to see if it’s DUA eligible, double-check the individual’s reason for separation and confirm or determine if that separation from work is a direct result of the natural disaster.
- Notify the state, or your UC provider, that the case is a DUA claim and prepare to follow the state-defined process for that claim type.
- Tip: Equifax UC claims managed during a DAP are automatically checked for DUA eligibility and processed accordingly.
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