Unemployment Assistance Benefits Available for Workers Affected by Wildfires

Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are now available for workers and self-employed individuals who lost jobs or had work hours substantially reduced as a result of the devastating California wildfires (Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma and Yuba counties). Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced and the California Employment Development Department (EDD) confirmed this news recently.

DUA provides temporary unemployment benefits to people whose jobs or work hours were directly impacted by the fires. The White House declared a major disaster in California on October 10, which paved the way for DUA benefits for people affected by the fires but who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment insurance benefits.

Important: The deadline for filing claims is November 16, 2017.

Affected individuals are encouraged to apply for DUA through the EDD. The fastest and easiest way for new claimants to apply for DUA is to use EDD’s online application, “eApply4UI,” which is available in both English and Spanish.

DUA applies to losses beginning the week of October 15, 2017, and benefits are up to $450 a week for up to 26 weeks. These unemployment insurance benefits are offered to victims of a disaster and are available to individuals who:

  • Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or who do not qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment in the 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 the disaster, or cannot reach work because of the disaster.
  • Establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their primary source of income.
  • Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster.
  • Became the head of their households because of a death caused by the disaster

To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed. Required documentation includes a Social Security number and a copy of the most recent federal income tax form or check stubs, or documentation to support that the individuals were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. Such documentation for the self-employed can be obtained from banks or government entities, or affidavits from individuals having knowledge of their business.

In addition to online filing, claimants can also file for DUA by phone between 8 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday:

  • English: 1-800-300-5616
  • Spanish: 1-800-326-8937
  • Chinese (Cantonese): 1-800-547-3506
  • Chinese (Mandarin): 1-866-303-0706
  • Vietnamese: 1-800-547-2058

“The losses and devastation due to the fires are staggering for so many Californians,” said EDD Director Patrick W. Henning in a statement. “EDD is here to support and help those in our communities as they begin to rebuild their lives.”

EDD’s Disaster Related Services webpage includes more information for individuals and businesses impacted by disasters, including tax filing extensions for affected employers. The EDD also encourages individuals to visit the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services website for information on local assistance centers, which provide referrals for individual and public assistance.

In addition, job seekers can find the America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM location nearest them for access to job-search resources, job postings and training programs, as well as assistance with exploring career options, résumé and application preparation, career development and more. Job seekers also may connect with potential employers through CalJOBSSM, EDD’s online job-search system.

CalChamber members can read more about Unemployment Insurance in the HR Library. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.

Staff Contact: Gail Cecchettini Whaley