CLEWISTON, FL. -- Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation, announced this week that individuals who have lost jobs or businesses as a result of
Hurricane Wilma may be entitled to Disaster Unemployment Assistance
benefits. On October 24, 2005, President George W. Bush, in response to a
request from Governor Jeb Bush, declared a major disaster for Broward,
Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, and
St. Lucie counties, clearing the way for use of federal funds to provide
assistance to individuals affected by the disaster.
Although many workers will be covered by the state's regular unemployment
compensation program, those not covered may apply for Disaster Unemployment
Assistance (DUA). This is a federally funded program, which assists
individuals who become unemployed as a direct result of a declared disaster
and who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. The program also
covers self-employed individuals, owners of farms and ranches, farm and
ranch workers, as well as fishers and others who are not normally covered
by state unemployment compensation.
Applicants must file for disaster benefits within 30 days of the date of
public notification. Therefore, DUA applications must be filed no later
than November 28, 2005. To be eligible for either the regular state
unemployment compensation program or DUA, the applicant must be a legal
resident. To be eligible for DUA benefits, an individual must have
exhausted all entitlement to any regular state unemployment benefits and
must have been working in or residing in a county for which the disaster
has been officially declared. DUA benefits are available to unemployed
individuals for up to 26 weeks from the date of the disaster declaration.
The 26-weeks assistance period for Hurricane Wilma ends April 29, 2006.
Federal regulations provide that the unemployment of an individual is
caused by a disaster if the individual: (1) becomes unemployed as a direct
result of the disaster; or (2) is unable to reach the place of employment
as a direct result of the disaster; or (3) was scheduled to begin work and
does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the
disaster; or (4) has become the major support for a household because the
head of the household has died as a direct result of the disaster; or (5)
cannot work because of an injury caused directly by the disaster.
Applications for DUA may be filed by Internet at the following web site
address: http://www.fluidnow.com (indicate on the
application that it is a disaster related unemployment claim). Telephone
applications may be filed by calling 1-800-204-2418. Hours of operation
are 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST, Monday through Friday.