NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Residents who are unemployed as a result of the severe storms and tornadoes that occurred Feb. 12 and 13 may be eligible for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits, state and federal officials said today.
"The DUA program, which is administered by the State, extends coverage to self-employed people, farm workers and others who have lost employment as a direct result of the disaster," said Neal Fudge, deputy state coordinating officer for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). "The program is specifically designed to assist those who are otherwise ineligible for regular unemployment benefits under any state or federal law."
Individuals can file applications through the Louisiana Department of Labor (LDOL) by calling 1-866-783-5567 . LDOL is accepting applications now through March 30, 2007. Applications submitted after this date may be denied.
The availability of this program was triggered by President Bush's Feb. 23 disaster declaration for Jefferson, Orleans and St. Martin parishes. The program is 100 percent funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Those affected by the storms and tornadoes are urged to register with FEMA for assistance. Individuals can register by calling the toll-free helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 , or visit www.fema.gov.
"The DUA program is designed to help those whose employment was interrupted by the disaster," said Lee Champagne, federal coordinating officer. "It helps victims make ends meet until they can get back to work."
DUA is available to individuals for weeks of unemployment beginning Feb. 18, 2007 and through Aug. 25, 2007, as long as the claimant's unemployment continues to be a result of the disaster. The program is available to unemployed U.S. nationals and qualified aliens who worked or were self-employed if they:
- Worked or were self-employed in or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment in an area declared as a federal disaster area;
- Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of a disaster;
- Establish that the work or self-employment that they can no longer perform was their primary source of income;
- Do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits from any state;
- Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury or incapacity that is a direct result of the disaster;
- Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the death of the head of the household;
- Cannot work or perform self-employment due to closure of a facility by the federal government;
- Lost a majority of income or revenue because the employer or self-employed business was damaged, destroyed, or closed by the federal government;
- Suffering a monetary loss due to damage of property or crops does not automatically entitle an individual to DUA.
For more information, residents of Louisiana may contact the Unemployment Insurance Call Center at 1-866-783-5567 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit LDOL Web site at www.laworks.net. Applicants should have their Social Security numbers as well as their proof of wages and proof of employment, including the name and address of the last employer. Proof of employment must be received within 21 days from the filing date of the application. Self-employed individuals must provide their business and financial records, including federal income tax returns for the most recent tax year 2006.