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Fact Sheet: Survivors May Be Eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Release date: 
October 25, 2017
Release Number: 
R2 DR 4339-PR FS 015

Employees or self-employed individuals – who lost their livelihood as a direct consequence of Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria – may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

Administered by the Bureau of Employment Security (BES) of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources, and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Disaster Unemployment Assistance is for those who are not eligible for regular BES unemployment insurance.  

To be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, 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, the area impacted by the hurricane but were prevented from doing so by the disaster;
  • Were self-employed in, or were scheduled to begin self-employment in, the impacted area but were prevented from doing so because of the hurricane;
  • 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, or
  • The individual lost a majority of income or revenue because the employer or self-employed business was damaged/destroyed by the hurricane.

Qualified workers must apply for benefits by Nov. 13

If you believe you may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, you may file a claim for benefits at:

Required Documents

  • When applying for benefits, bring your Social Security number and the name and address of your last employer or prospective employer.
  • You must also provide documentation verifying employment at the time of the disaster or confirmation of the weeks you were scheduled to work, as well as the revenues or wages you would have received if the disaster had not occurred.
  • Self-employed workers must provide federal income tax forms (Schedule SE and either Schedule C or Schedule F) to receive disaster unemployment benefits.

Citizen of Florida Municipality arriving to his house on a kayak. Selgas sector in Florida Municipality is still flooded due to debris blocking the sewage system after Hurricane Maria.
Florida, PR, October 1, 2017 - Citizen of Florida Municipality arriving to his house on a kayak. Photo: Eliud Echevarria / FEMA Download Original

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.

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 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS - Video Relay Service).

TTY, call 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters, which can cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged real estate and 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.

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Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 11:58