Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Por: Lagniappe Law Lab
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Disaster Unemployment Assistance


Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides temporary benefits to persons whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted due to a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance (UI). DUA funds are available when the president declares a federal disaster. 

To be eligible for DUA you must be out of work due to a major disaster. For example, if you are unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster and your company goes out of business due to the disaster. You may be eligible for DUA if you are self-employed or a small-business owner who lost income due to a disaster. 

If you live in a disaster area and are out of work due to a disaster, then immediately apply for DUA. The Louisiana Workforce Commission will check to see if you are eligible for regular UI benefits before finding you can be eligible to get DUA benefits.

There is only a short time to apply for DUA, so don't wait. You need to actively search for work to qualify for DUA. You may be required to file weekly claims and do online searches to continue to qualify for DUA.

If you are turned down for DUA, then you can appeal. Your appeal must be filed within 60 calendar days to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. You should send in proof that you lost work as a direct result of the disaster before attending the appeal hearing. 


Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

To qualify for disaster unemployment assistance (DUA), your employment or self-employment must be lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster. You must have been determined not eligible for regular state unemployment assistance. Payments will be made to unemployed persons who do not have employment due to a major disaster.

With exceptions to persons with an injury and for self-employed individuals performing activities to return to self-employment, individuals must be able to work and available for work, which are the same requirements to be eligible for state unemployment insurance benefits. 

The application to DUA must be filed within 30 days of the date of the public announcement of the availability of DUA

A major disaster (such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, snowstorm, flood, etc.) or other types of disasters that result in a Presidential declaration of a disaster. A Presidential declaration is made when it is determined that government assistance is necessary for communities and individuals directly affected by a major disaster. Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) becomes available when the declaration is for "individual assistance including DUA." 

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to individuals for weeks of unemployment beginning with the first week following the date the major disaster began and for up to 26 weeks after the major disaster was declared by the President, as long as unemployment continues to be a result of the major disaster. The maximum weekly benefit amount is determined under the provisions of state law for unemployment insurance where the disaster occurred. 

One of the following conditions of unemployment must occur as a direct result of the disaster to qualify for DUA. This includes: 

  1. The individual has had a week of unemployment following the date the major disaster began; 

  2. The individual is unable to reach their place of employment; 

  3. The individual was scheduled to start work and the job no longer exists or the individual was unable to reach the job; 

  4. The individual became the "breadwinner" or major support because the head of the household died as a direct result of the disaster; or 

  5. The individual cannot work because of an injury caused as a direct result of disaster. 

Claims should be filed in accordance with Louisiana's instructions published about the availability of Disaster Unemployment Assistance. In the event of a disaster, Louisiana will make public announcements about the availability of DUA. To file a claim, you can contact the Louisiana Workforce Commission

Applications for DUA must be filed within 30 days of the announcement of the availability of DUA. You must follow the instructions in the information and file for DUA based on the filing method used by the Louisiana Workforce Commission

Regular Louisiana Unemployment benefits and Disaster Unemployment Benefits may be applied for simultaneously. This can be done online, in person, or by phone

Louisiana offers 26 weeks of regular Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB) for workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own and are still able and available to seek employment. This may include workers who lost their job as a direct result of the disaster, but also includes workers who lost their jobs for reasons not directly related to a disaster event. If disaster survivors are not eligible for regular Louisiana unemployment benefits, they may be entitled to disaster unemployment assistance. 

To learn more about regular unemployment benefits visit our resources: 

An individual needs to provide proof (e.g., income tax return, bank statements) to document employment or self-employment or to document work that was to begin on or after the date of the disaster. If proof of employment cannot be provided at the time the claim is filed, the individuals have 21 days to meet the requirement. Failure to submit this documentation within 21 days will result in a denial of DUA, and any benefits already paid, are considered overpaid. You are required to repay any benefits overpaid. 

The weekly benefit about is based on the gross wages of the person who applies. If the individual is self-employed, then the weekly benefit amount is based on the net earnings (income) from self-employment. Generally, benefits are calculated using the same formula used for regular unemployment benefits. 

DUA benefits are generally paid for up to 26 weeks, beginning with the first week following the date the major disaster began, and ending with the 26th week following the date the major disaster is declared by the President. 

Individuals who need to verify their earnings for disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) claims can contact the IRS and request a copy of their tax and earning records. 

A person can be disqualified from DUA benefits or benefits can get terminated when any of the following occur: 

  1. The person becomes employed and the earnings exceed the weekly benefit amount allowed under law; 
  2. The person refuses to accept suitable employment without good cause; 
  3. The person refuses to get a referral to suitable work without good reason; 
  4. The person is not available for work unless the unavailability is due to the individual's preparations to resume self-employment; or 
  5. The person is no longer employed as a direct result of the disaster. 

Any person who is denied DUA benefits can appeal. A person must file the appeal within 60 days of the denial determination being issued. 

Funding for DUA benefit programs and the cost to administer the program comes from FEMA. DUA payments are made by state unemployment agencies, such as the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The Louisiana Workforce Commission makes payments to eligible individuals unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster. 

DUA benefits are subject to Federal Income Tax. You can elect to have Federal withholding deducted from their DUA payments. 

Sections 410 and 423, Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) (42 USC 5177); Title 20, Chapter V, Part 625, Code of Federal Regulations (20 CFR Part 625), as amended.

Última revisión y actualización: Sep 12, 2022
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