Op-Ed: FEMA has aid for those left jobless by hurricane
Employees or self-employed individuals — who lost their livelihood as a direct consequence of Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria — may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by the Bureau of Employment Security (BES) of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources, DUA is for those who are not eligible for regular BES unemployment insurance.
To be eligible for DUA, workers must be unemployed as a direct result of the disaster. In addition, one of the following conditions of unemployment, or inability to perform services in self-employment, must have occurred:
- Worked in, or were scheduled to begin work in, the area impacted by the hurricane but were impeded to do so by the disaster;
- Were self-employed in, or were scheduled to begin self-employment in, the impacted area but were unable to do so because of the hurricane;
- The individual is unable to work because he/she is injured as a direct result of the disaster;
- The individual became the major support of the household because the head of the household died as a direct result of the disaster, or
- The individual lost a majority of income or revenue because the employer or self-employed business was damaged/destroyed by the hurricane.
Qualified workers must apply for benefits by Nov. 13.
Claims filed after the deadline will be considered untimely and benefits will be denied unless the individual can provide good cause for missing the deadline.
If you believe you may be eligible for DUA, you may file a claim for benefits at:
- The recently established Center for Integrated Services in Vieques;
- The BES office nearest you, or
- Your nearest American Job Center.
Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
When applying for benefits, bring your Social Security number and the name and address of your last employer or prospective employer. You must also provide documentation verifying employment at the time of the disaster or confirmation of the weeks you were scheduled to work, as well as the revenues or wages you would have received if the disaster had not occurred.
Self-employed workers must provide federal income tax forms (Schedule SE and either Schedule C or Schedule F) to receive disaster unemployment benefits.