Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is a federal program that provides financial assistance to jobless workers and the self-employed when they are unemployed as a direct result of a major natural disaster. A major disaster means any hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water or tidal wave, earthquake, drought, fire or other catastrophe declared by the President to warrant government assistance to communities and individuals.
The DUA program is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and State Employment Security Agencies under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1974, as amended by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act of 1988
When a major disaster has been declared by the President, DUA is generally available to any unemployed worker or self-employed individual who lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in the disaster area at the time of the disaster; and due to the disaster:
- Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment; and
- Do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits, or Extended Benefits (EB) from any state; and
- Were unable to reach their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by 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; or
- Cannot physically access the place of employment due to its closure by the federal, state, or local government in immediate response to the disaster; or
- Can establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their principal source of income; or
- Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster; or
- Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the death related to the disaster/fire.
DUA consists of weekly benefit payments that are computed based on the prior tax year as established through tax records submitted to the Department for verification. The tax records should be for the for prior tax year so that it can be determined that the loss of income was a direct result of the disaster. If earnings records are not available, but eligibility is otherwise established, DUA claimants will be calculated as the minimum weekly benefit allowable under the federal regulations. Weekly DUA payments may be reduced by:
- partial earnings;
- any insurance for wage loss due to illness or disability;
- supplemental UI benefits resulting from union agreements; or
- private income protection insurance.
DUA benefits are payable only for weeks that fall within the Disaster Assistance Period, which is determined by the federal disaster declaration issued by the President. Weekly benefits begin on the Sunday following the disaster declaration and end on Saturday of the week after the declaration ends.
President Biden authorized Federal disaster aid for the State of New Mexico making Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) available to New Mexicans whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a direct result of the 2022 Wildfires.
The deadline to apply for DUA was June 15, 2022. Applications filed after the deadline will be considered untimely and
DUA benefits may be denied unless the individual provides good cause for
filing after the deadline. If your employment was impacted by the 2022 wildfires and have good cause to apply after the deadline you may call the Unemployment Insurance Operations Center at 1-877-664-6984, Monday through Friday, 7am-4:30pm.
DUA is available for weeks of unemployment beginning April 10, 2022 until November 5, 2022, as long as the individual’s unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster. DUA applications are only being accepted by phone. Eligible claimants may receive their benefits via direct deposit or debit card.
Proof of employment/self-employment must be submitted no later than 21 days after filing for a DUA claim. The following documents are acceptable as proof of employment:
- Payroll voucher or check stub closest in date to the last work week
- Employment and earnings statement from employer with name, address and contact information
- Written statement from employer
- Business records (bank statements, business receipts, licenses, advertisements, invoices, appointment books, financial statements)