The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced today that individuals who have lost their jobs or businesses in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties as a result of severe storms and flooding during April 28, 2014 through May 6, 2014 may be entitled to Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits. A federal disaster declaration was received on May 6, 2014 authorizing the use of federal funds to provide assistance to individuals affected by the disaster in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.
Although many affected workers will be covered by the state’s regular reemployment assistance program, those not covered or otherwise eligible may apply for DUA. This is a federally funded program, which assists individuals who become unemployed as a direct result of a declared disaster and who do not qualify for regular reemployment assistance benefits. The program also covers self-employed individuals, workers on and owners of farms and ranches, as well as fishers and others who are not normally covered by state reemployment assistance benefits.
The Department of Economic Opportunity administers the DUA program in Florida in partnership with the United States Department of Labor. Funding for the program is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Applicants must file for disaster benefits within 30 days of the date of public notification. Therefore, DUA applications must be filed no later than June 9, 2014. To be eligible for either regular state reemployment assistance or DUA, the applicant must be a legal resident. To be eligible for DUA benefits, an individual must not be entitled to regular state reemployment assistance and must have been working in or residing in a county for which the disaster has been officially declared. DUA benefits are available to unemployed individuals for up to 26 weeks from the date of the disaster declaration. The disaster assistance period is May 4, 2014 through November 8, 2014.
Federal regulations provide that the unemployment of an individual is caused by a disaster if the individual: (1) becomes unemployed as a direct result of the disaster, i.e. the individual was prevented from working due to damage caused by the disaster at the place of employment; or (2) is unable to reach the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster; or (3) was scheduled to begin work and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the disaster; or (4) has become the major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of the disaster; or (5) cannot work because of an injury caused directly by the disaster.
To file a DUA claim, call 1-800-681-8102. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.