Disaster Unemployment Assistance

You may be able to get Disaster Unemployment Assistance payments if you lose your job or can’t work because of a major disaster. Find out when and how you can get this aid.

Page last updated: 03/31/2023

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is a weekly payment you can get from the government if you lose your job or can’t work because of a major disaster. A major disaster could be a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado. Or it could be other types of disasters, such as an explosion or natural gas leaks.   

You’re eligible for these payments when the U.S. president announces that a disaster has happened in your area. The government then offers DUA to people affected by the disaster. If a major disaster affects your job status, you could get these payments for as long as 26 weeks. 

Who Can Get DUA

You can likely apply for DUA benefits if all the conditions listed below are true for you:  

  • You live or work in the declared disaster area.  
  • You were scheduled to work in the declared disaster area. 
  • You’re no longer working because of the disaster. 
  • You can’t get regular unemployment benefits in your state or territory.  

DUA Explainer

You’re allowed to receive DUA benefits for many reasons. The most common one is that you lost your job because the disaster damaged or destroyed a business that had been supplying more than half of your employer’s revenue.  

Some states and territories have different rules for who may be eligible because of job loss. For example, in Texas, the job you lost must account for more than half of your income. That means you might not be able to get DUA for losing a part-time job. The U.S. Department of Labor can guide you to unemployment assistance information for your state or territory. 

You can also receive DUA benefits if you can show that one of the following things happened to you because of the disaster: 

  • You can’t get to your workplace. 
  • You can’t work because of damage to your workplace. 
  • You were about to start a job, but the job is gone. 
  • You were hurt and can’t work because of that injury. 
  • The head of your household died. You’re looking for work because this death means that you have become the main source of money for your household. 

To keep getting the DUA benefits, you must show that: 

  • You’re available to work (unless you can’t work because of an injury caused by the disaster). In some states and territories, you may have to show that you’re actively looking for work. 
  • You don’t turn down job offers for “suitable positions.” Your state or territory’s unemployment agency can tell you what it considers to be suitable positions. 

Where and How To Apply for DUA

Your state or territory will announce whether DUA is available. You can apply through the unemployment agency in your state or territory as soon as possible after this happens. If you’ve been displaced — that is, you moved to another state for now or for good — you still must file your claim in the state where the disaster occurred. 

Use CareerOneStop’s Unemployment Benefits Finder to find websites and phone numbers for the office in your state or territory. 

The application process and requirements vary by state and territory. Your state or territory’s unemployment benefits website should include information on the specific application process and requirements. Usually, you must: 

  • File your application within a certain number of days of the announcement that DUA is available. The announcement should provide the exact number of days. 
  • Provide your Social Security number. 
  • Show proof that you had a job and received pay before the disaster happened. 

You can prove you had a job and how much pay you received by providing one of the following documents:

  • Pay stubs. 
  • Bank statements showing direct deposit of your work pay. 
  • A written statement from your employer. 
  • Tax returns.  

If you are self-employed, you must provide a tax return.  

If you aren’t a U.S. citizen but are authorized to work, you might qualify for DUA. You’ll have to prove your immigration status. This proof could include a green card or work permit. 

Contacts To Learn More

To learn more about the program, you can call the U.S. Department of Labor toll-free at 877-872-5627. 

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, or if you have a speech impairment, you can call 877-889-5627. This toll-free number has TTY. TTY is a device connected to a telephone line that allows people to send and receive text messages.