unemployment_new_jersey_hurricane_sandyReplacing Lost Income

Disaster Unemployment Insurance (DUA) is a federal program that provides payments to people in federally declared disaster areas who have lost work or income as a direct result of the disaster. If you can collect regular unemployment benefits, you cannot collect DUA.

The Deadine to Apply for DUA Benefits is February 4, 2013.

You are eligible if: (a) you are out of work or suffered a loss of income as a “direct result” of a Superstorm Sandy, (b) you do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance, and (c) you are ready, willing, and able to work. You may qualify even if you do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance.

Examples of qualifying circumstances include:

  • You were injured in the storm and are unable to work, whether you are an employee or self-employed
  • Your workplace (including a farm) was damaged, destroyed, or you cannot get there because of the storm
  • Your transportation to work is unavailable because of the storm
  • You cannot reach your job because doing so would require travel through the affected area
  • You were about to begin work, but could not do so because of the storm
  • Most of your income comes from areas affected by the storm, whether you are an employee or self-employed, and your business or farm income is down as a result of the storm
  • Businesses may qualify if the level of income is significantly diminished as a direct result of the storm
  • Farmers who are involved in more than one type of farming may be eligible for partial payments

What benefits are provided?

  • DUA benefits are paid weekly or bi-weekly, equaling the same weekly benefits that you would have been entitled to had you qualified for regular unemployment insurance (UI).
  • DUA benefits cannot be less than one-half of the average weekly UI benefits; the minimum benefit is $197/week and the maximum is $611/week.
  • Benefits for part-time workers are pro-rated based on the hours worked as a percent of a 40-hour work week.
  • Benefits are reduced by other wage-loss compensation, including private insurance, Supplemental Unemployment Benefits, worker’s compensation, and a pro-rated amount of a retirement pension or annuity.
  • The maximum payment period is 26 weeks. But, benefits cannot extend beyond the period when the disaster officially ends, which is six months from the date the federal disaster was declared (October 30, 2012).
  • Benefits cease when the recipient returns to work or self-employment or beyond the period when the individual’s unemployment is no longer directly related to the disaster.

For more information, visit http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/ui/aftrfile/dua.html and http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/lwdhome/content/SandyHelpCenter.html

How to Apply

You must first file a regular unemployment insurance claim. Make clear that you lost income as a result of Sandy. To do so visit http://www.njuifile.net/. Internet claims are processed faster, but you can call the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development:

North Jersey: 201-601-4100
Central Jersey: 732-761-2020
South Jersey: 856-507-2340

Before applying for DUA, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA for a registration number.

The DUA application is available at http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/ui/aftrfile/dua.html (click on “DUA Application Packet”)

Income Verification
You must provide proof of employment and earnings within 21 days of filing the application. If you are self-employed, copies of tax returns must be submitted as proof of earnings.

If such documentation is unavailable, a sworn statement including other forms of verification can be submitted and interim DUA payments made while documentation is gathered. Failure to submit documentation may result in payments that can later be recovered by the State. If the necessary documents were lost in the storm, notify the DUA specialist you deal with about that issue.

What to do after you Apply

If you are found eligible for DUA, you must actively seek work and accept suitable work offered to you, unless you were injured in the storm and are thus unable to work. You must also certify that for every week you collect DUA, your unemployment continues to be the direct result of the storm. You should certify in this way every week, even if you have not yet received DUA payments.