Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab


About Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

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 benefits. DUA funds are available when the president declares a federal 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 (LWC) will check to see if you are eligible for regular unemployment benefits benefits before finding out if you can be eligible to get DUA benefits.

The information below covers common questions or concerns about DUA in the aftermath of a disaster in Louisiana. 

What You Need To Know

DUA provides temporary benefits to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the President and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits. Eligibility for DUA depends on several conditions, such as the impact of the disaster on the individual's employment and their ability to work.

The DUA program is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state unemployment agencies, such as the Louisiana Workforce Commission. 

In Louisiana, eligibility for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is determined based on several criteria. To qualify, individuals must:

  1. Have lost their job or had their self-employment interrupted as a direct result of a presidentially declared major disaster.
  2. Be ineligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.
  3. Live, work, or have been scheduled to work in the area declared as a disaster.

Eligibility also extends to individuals who:

  • Can no longer work or reach their place of work because of the disaster.
  • Were about to start a new job that no longer exists due to the disaster.
  • Cannot work due to an injury caused by the disaster.
  • Have become the main support for a household because the head of the household died as a result of the disaster.

Applicants must also be available and able to work unless they are prevented from doing so by an injury caused by the disaster or are taking steps to resume their self-employment

Processing times can vary based on the volume of applications and the specifics of the disaster situation. It's essential to apply as soon as possible and provide all necessary documentation to expedite the process.

Upon approval, benefits are typically paid either via direct deposit to a personal checking or savings account or through a state-issued debit card. It's important to claim each week that you are unemployed due to the disaster by completing a weekly certification. This process ensures your eligibility on a weekly basis and is a standard requirement for continuing to receive DUA payments. If you're applying for DUA, make sure to have all necessary documentation ready and continue to monitor the status of your application each week. 


Yes, you can apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) if you're self-employed. DUA is designed to assist individuals who have lost their job or cannot work due to a disaster and includes self-employed individuals, farmers, and commercial fishermen who are unable to work as a direct result of the disaster.

To qualify, you must provide proof of this employment and income within a specific timeframe from filing your claim, usually 21 days. Failure to provide the required proof within this period may affect your eligibility for benefits. This proof might include items such as federal tax returns, business licenses, recent bills in the company's name, work logs, customer invoices, contracts, and other relevant documents demonstrating your self-employment status and income

If you were about to start a new job but couldn't because of the disaster, you might still be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). DUA aims to support individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the President. This includes those who were scheduled to commence employment and found themselves without a job due to the disaster's impact. 

When applying for DUA under these circumstances, you would likely need to provide evidence of the job offer or employment agreement that was in place before the disaster occurred. It's essential to gather any documentation or communication you have related to the job offer, such as emails, letters, or contracts, as this will support your claim.

DUA benefits are available for up to 26 weeks after the declaration date, as long as your unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster.

It's important for applicants to understand that this duration is a maximum timeframe and the actual period for which DUA benefits are paid might be shorter, depending on the individual's situation and the recovery process of the affected area. Recipients are required to meet eligibility criteria continually and may need to demonstrate their ongoing unemployment status due to the disaster.

You should report your employment and earnings to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, as this may affect your eligibility for continued DUA benefits.

Earning income while on DUA doesn't necessarily disqualify you from receiving benefits, but it may reduce the amount you are eligible to receive. The system is designed to partially compensate for lost income, so if you begin earning again, your benefit amount may be adjusted accordingly.

Continuing to claim DUA benefits without reporting employment can lead to overpayment issues, where you might have to repay benefits you were not eligible to receive. In some cases, failure to report employment can also result in penalties or even legal action.

How To Apply

How To Apply For Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

After a disaster, information about DUA availability is published. You should contact the Louisiana Workforce Commission as soon as possible to file a claim.

To apply for DUA you can follow the general steps listed below. 

Steps To Apply For Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

After a disaster is declared, the state of Louisiana will announce the availability of DUA. Keep an eye on local news and the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) website for this information.

Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for DUA. This generally includes being unemployed as a direct result of a disaster declared by the President, not qualifying for regular unemployment insurance, and being able and available for work unless injured as a direct result of the disaster.

Before applying, gather the necessary documents. Applicants typically need to provide proof of identity, proof of employment or self-employment at the time of the disaster (pay stubs, business licenses, tax returns), and any other documents required by the Louisiana Workforce Commission to prove their eligibility and the impact of the disaster on their employment.

After a disaster, the LWC will publish information about DUA availability. 

You can apply through the LWC by visiting their website, using online services, or by phone. The website offers detailed instructions and the online portal for filing a claim.

Complete the application process as directed. You may need to provide personal information, details about your employment, and how the disaster affected your job.

After filling out the application, submit it through the method specified by the LWC. Make sure to do this within the deadline specified in the DUA announcement.

After applying, there will be a processing period where your application is reviewed. The state agency may contact you for additional information during this time.

After submitting your application, keep track of its status through the LWC website or by contacting them directly. Be prepared to provide additional information if requested and to respond to any inquiries about your claim.

If approved, you may need to claim benefits weekly or bi-weekly, reporting any income earned during the period and confirming your employment status.

To appeal Disaster Unemployment Benefits decisions with the Louisiana Workforce Commission, you must file an appeal if you disagree with a Notice of Claim Determination or a Notice of Overpayment. Appeals can be filed online to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Appeals Unit. The appeal must be filed within 15 days from the date of the determination and must include a signed letter by the person filing the appeal if done by mail. Make sure to enclose a copy of the determination with your appeal letter. 

After filing an appeal, you will receive an acknowledgment letter. If you don't receive this within ten days of filing, you should contact the Appeals Clerk of Court for assistance. The appeal will then be reviewed and scheduled for a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Most hearings are conducted by telephone, and you will be notified of the hearing details, including the date and time, in advance. At the hearing, the ALJ will hear evidence and make a decision, which is usually mailed within three days after the hearing. If you disagree with the ALJ's decision, you can appeal to the Louisiana Board of Review and, if necessary, to the state district courts following the instructions on the decision. 

Ensure you continue to file your weekly claims until a final decision on your appeal is made or until you return to work. This process is designed to ensure that your case is heard and a fair decision is made based on the evidence presented.

You can learn more about the unemployment benefits appeal process by clicking here

Last Review and Update: Mar 13, 2024
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