File for Unemployment
Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are available for workers, business owners and self-employed individuals who lost their jobs or businesses or had their work hours substantially reduced as a result of the wildfires that began in several California counties on August 14, 2020. The federal disaster declaration on August 22 provides DUA benefits for people who are directly affected by the fires, but who do not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), FED-ED extensions, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.
DUA provides temporary unemployment benefits to people whose jobs or work hour losses, or loss of businesses are a direct result of a disaster. Affected individuals are encouraged to apply for DUA through the California Employment Development Department (EDD), which will first check to see if applicants can qualify for state unemployment benefits, PEUC, FED-ED extensions or PUA benefits. The deadline for filing a DUA claim related to these fires is September 28, 2020.
DUA applies to losses beginning the week of August 16, 2020, and individuals can receive up to $450 a week in benefits for a maximum period of 27 weeks.
These unemployment assistance benefits are offered to victims of a disaster and are available to individuals who meet any of the following criteria:
- Worked or were a business owner or self-employed, or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment, in the disaster area. This includes, but is not limited to, those in the agricultural and fishing industries.
- Cannot reach work because of the disaster or 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.
- Can 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.
- Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits and remain unemployed as a direct result of 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 other 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, government entities, or affidavits from individuals having knowledge of their business.
The fastest and easiest way for new claimants to apply for DUA is to use EDD’s UI Online application https://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/UI_Online.htm , which is available in both English and Spanish.
Claimants can also apply for DUA by phone between 8 a.m. and 12 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 https://www.edd.ca.gov/About_EDD/Disaster_Related_Services.htm includes more information for individuals and businesses impacted by disasters, including tax filing extensions for affected employers.
The EDD administers the federal disaster-benefits program in California for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, on behalf of the Emergency Management Agency.