Unemployment Benefits Available for Workers Affected by Southern California Wildfires and Mudslides

Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are now available for workers, business owners and self-employed individuals who lost jobs or had work hours substantially reduced as a result of the wildfires and associated flooding, mudslides and debris flows in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. DUA provides temporary unemployment benefits to people whose jobs or work hours were directly impacted by the fires.

The White House amended a declaration of a major disaster in California on January 15, which allows DUA benefits for people affected by the disasters in those counties but who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment insurance benefits.

Important: The deadline for filing claims is February 20, 2018When applying for DUA benefits, it is critical that individuals identify themselves as being unemployed due to the disasters.

Affected individuals are encouraged to apply for DUA through the Employment Development Department (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.

“Disaster Unemployment Assistance can help workers who lost jobs or could not work because of these catastrophes,” said EDD Director Patrick W. Henning, in a statement. “EDD is here to help those affected by these disasters recover some of their lost income through this program.”

DUA applies to losses beginning the week of December 10, 2017, and benefits are up to $450 a week for up to 30 weeks. These unemployment insurance benefits are offered to victims of the wildfires and associated disasters 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, 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

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. 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

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 of 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 HRCalifornia can help you.

Staff Contact: Gail Cecchettini Whaley