Disaster unemployment assistance benefits are now available to fire-impacted individuals in Lassen, Trinity and Tulare counties

Californians impacted by wildfires that started in August have until Nov. 30, 2020, to file for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The California Employment Development Department administers these benefits which are available to workers, business owners and self-employed individuals who lost their jobs or businesses, or had their work hours reduced due to the ongoing wildfires.

FEMA has determined that individuals in Lassen, Trinity and Tulare counties are now eligible to apply for these DUA benefits if their loss of work or self-employment was a direct result of the fires, and they do not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, FED-ED extensions or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.

DUA benefits are now available to those impacted by the wildfires that began in August in the following California counties:Lassen, Butte, Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Trinity, Tulare and Yolo.

This DUA applies to covered losses beginning the week of Aug. 16, 2020, and individuals can receive between $40 and $450 a week in benefits, for a maximum period of 27 weeks. The last payable week of this benefit ends Feb. 20, 2021.

These DUA 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, which is available in both English and Spanish.

Claimants can also apply for DUA by phone between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week:

  • English: (800) 300-5616;
  • Spanish: (800) 326-8937;
  • Chinese (Cantonese): (800) 547-3506;
  • Chinese (Mandarin): (866) 303-0706; and
  • Vietnamese: (800) 547-2058.

EDD’s Disaster-Related Services webpage includes more information for individuals and businesses impacted by disasters, including tax filing extensions for affected employers. EDD also encourages individuals to visit the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services wildfire recovery website for information on Local Assistance Centers where individuals, families and businesses can access disaster assistance programs and services.

The EDD administers the federal disaster-benefits program in California for the

U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, on behalf of the Emergency Management Agency.