When businesses, offices, worksites and farms are ravaged by a disaster, so is local employment. But many workers impacted by disastrous events can reach for a lifeline called Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
Oklahoma workers or self-employed individuals who lost their livelihood as a result of the severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding from May 5 through June 4 may be eligible for DUA.
Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC), DUA is for those who are not eligible for regular Oklahoma state unemployment insurance.
To be eligible for DUA, workers must be unemployed as a direct result of the disaster. In addition, one of the following conditions of unemployment or inability to perform services in self-employment must have occurred:
- Worked in, or were scheduled to begin work in, an area declared as a federal disaster area.
- Were self-employed in, or were scheduled to begin self-employment in, an area declared as a federal disaster area.
- The individual is unable to work because he/she is injured as a direct result of the disaster;
- The individual became the major support of the household because the head of the household died as a direct result of the disaster;
- The individual lost a majority of income or revenue because the employer or self-employed business was damaged, destroyed, or closed by the federal government.
Workers have 30 days to file their claim following the date of public announcement of DUA availability, which the state unemployment office is required to advertise.
Oklahoma deadlines are as follows:
- July 1, 2015 – Cleveland, Grady and Oklahoma counties;
- July 6, 2015 – Atoka, Bryan, Comanche, Johnston, Kiowa, Le Flore, McClain, McCurtain, Pittsburg and Pottawatomie counties;
- July 15, 2015 – Beckham, Caddo, Canadian, Marshall, McIntosh, Seminole and Wagoner counties; and
- July 20, 2015 – Cotton, Choctaw, Rogers and Tillman counties.
Claims filed after those deadlines will be considered untimely and benefits denied unless the individual can provide good cause for missing the deadline. The first possible week of compensation for DUA purposes is the week ending May 16, 2015, and the last possible week of compensation is the week ending November 28, 2015.
If you believe you may be eligible for DUA, please call the OESC Unemployment Insurance Service Center at 1-800-555-1554, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to begin the claim process.
When calling to apply for benefits, individuals should have (when possible) their Social Security number available, as well as the name and address of their last employer or prospective employer.
Within 21 days of the date of your claim, individuals must provide documentation verifying employment at the time of the disaster or verification of the weeks the applicant was scheduled to work. Self-employed workers must provide federal income tax forms (Schedule SE and either Schedule C or Schedule F) to receive disaster unemployment benefits.
Individuals looking for jobs or employers in need of workers should contact their nearest Workforce Oklahoma Center. Potential workers and employers can also connect via the OESC website – //oesc.ok.gov.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) prepares for, responds to, recovers from and mitigates against emergencies and disasters. The department delivers services to Oklahoma cities, towns and counties through a network of more than 350 local emergency managers.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6 and the FEMA Blog at //blog.fema.gov.
The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955, emailing email@example.com, or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800) 877-8339.