Frankenstorm Sandy Continues to Damage Employment and Wages for Workers, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Will Help Cover Costs to those Affected

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Superstorm Sandy has caused lasting impacts across the East Coast, but with thousands of employees still unable to resume their regular work, and thousands more who have lost their jobs entirely because of the storm, residents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut may find some monetary relief in the form of federally funded Disaster Unemployment Assistance, reports the Unemployment Services Trust.

By providing funds to pay for DUA—unemployment funds that will go to those traditionally excluded from the eligibility standards of state-run unemployment insurance—the Federal government is bringing direct aid to those most affected.

With more than 300 nonprofit members located in the affected states, the Unemployment Services Trust has been vigilant of how Sandy is affecting unemployment coverage and employers whose workers have been unable to do their jobs. Fortunately, Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is being offered to workers in federally declared disaster areas throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who lost their jobs as a result of Superstorm Sandy. The assistance funds supplement the existing unemployment insurance system and will expand eligibility to include unemployed workers who would not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits.

The DUA funding has specifically expanded assistance to employees not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, farmers, and those who are self-employed, and does not add cost to employers in any of the affected areas.

“There has been significant damage up and down the East Coast, but by providing funds to pay for Disaster Unemployment Assistance—unemployment funds that will go to those traditionally excluded from the eligibility standards of state-run unemployment insurance programs—the Federal government is bringing direct monetary aid to those most affected and potentially quickening the recovery process,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of Unemployment Services Trust(UST).

The funds are a result of the 1988 Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, which amended the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 and brings an orderly and systemic means of providing federal natural disaster assistance to state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens.

Anyone who is now unemployed because of Hurricane Sandy is automatically eligible for DUA and can collect assistance if:

  •     They are injured in the disaster and become unable to work, whether the person is an employee or self-employed,
  •     Their workplace is damaged or destroyed, or the person cannot work because of the disaster,
  •     Transportation to work is not available because of the disaster,
  •     They cannot get to work because they must travel through the affected area, which is impossible due to the disaster,
  •     They planned to begin working but cannot because of the disaster,
  •     They derived most of their income from areas affected by the disaster, and business is closed or inoperable because of the disaster,
  •     They are out of work because the Federal government took over or closed the facility where they worked,
  •     They are now the breadwinner or major support for a household because the former head of household died in the disaster.

To find out if you are eligible for DUA, contact the Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration at (866) 4USA- DOL (1-866-487-2365) as soon as possible and indicate that you lost your job as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy. The application deadline to receive benefits is December 3, 2012, although beneficiaries will be eligible for continued benefits for up to 26 weeks after the disaster.

The minimum and maximum weekly benefit amounts are determined under the provisions of the state law for unemployment compensation. However, the minimum weekly amount is only half of the average benefit amount in the state.

For more information on Hurricane Recovery Assistance, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Recovery page.

Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing nonprofit organizations with a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST regularly saves nonprofit members money through dedicated oversight and unemployment cost management. Visit http://www.ChooseUST.org to request a savings evaluation and find out whether opting out of the state UI system is right for your 501(c)(3).

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Megan Maulhardt
Unemployment Services Trust
888-249-4788 2101
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