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Disaster Unemployment Assistance during California Wildfires

Updated : February 27th, 2020

How to claim DUA for the California Wildfires

 

California has been ravaged by wildfires for a few days now. Firefighters and emergency services have been striving to contain the blazes as new fires keep breaking out. In Sonoma County, where the Kincade fire has made an enormous hit, life is slowly returning to track, as people look at what comes next. The risk of fires worsening is up since fast blowing winds can spread the embers.

Pacific Gas and Electric Utility shut down power in several counties to prevent fires starting from electrical malfunctions. This outage impacts businesses in a big way, particularly for wage workers and contractors who are directly or indirectly dependent on daily workflow. 

The obvious result of the mass evacuations ordered is the loss of work time. For daily wage workers, this has a severe impact on basics like housing, meals, etc. The power cuts are harsher upon those living in poverty. Those who live upon low savings struggle when they lose employment due to the above reasons.

In contrast, as the wine county has time-sensitive harvest operations, abandoning the area is not an option for those whose survival depends on the industry. Fires always end up choking the air with dust, smoke, and debris, which directly affects a day laborer or domestic worker’s health. The damage to the land takes a long time to recover, and while it does, its former employees must make do by other means. 

There are reports about people being forced to remain in the danger zone for fear of unemployment. Particularly, migrant workers and immigrants have preferred to endanger their safety as they tend to be ineligible for unemployment insurance.

On the upside, previous wildfires have shown an increase in local communities’ employment and labor engagement due to fire suppression and support activities. The post-fire reconstruction may support and spur the local labor market up to an extent.

Counties whose economies are reliant on recreation-based activities generally show a decline in wages and employment, while counties depending on government jobs do not show such an effect. Hazard pay and overtime allowance might increase in fire-associated jobs for a while after a wildfire.

Availing Disaster Unemployment Assistance to cope with California Wildfires

There arises a situation of joblessness during the California wildfires, which has various direct and indirect consequences for workers. Jobless claims have gone up during the end of October, with the largest increase seen in California.

The California Employment Development Department has announced that people losing their wages due to the Kincade fire can apply for disaster unemployment assistance (DUA). Usually, UI benefits are paid out after a waiting period of a week post-filing a claim, but the government has waived it as part of an emergency proclamation. Thus, the claimants receive two weeks of unemployment benefits on their first payment.

As the Kincade fire has not yet been declared as a federal disaster, the self-employed people would not be able to claim unemployment assistance. 

The amounts paid out depend on past earnings and may vary from $40-$450. Claims can be filed online, by phone, mail, or fax. Claimants can call the toll-free number 1-800-300-5616 between 8 a.m and 12 noon (Pacific Time).

If you are owed claims currently and are unable to receive the payments at your regular address, you can contact the local post office. Remember that the DUA deadline is Dec 18, 2019.

 

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  1. I work for a church pre school program and I have lost my job due to coronavirus. When I applied for unemployment in Texas it says that two does not except this employer as my last employer. I’ve been working there for 13 years. What do I do?

  2. Chad ….. how do I get thru when it wont accept my ID or my password. I change it 5 times and it still wont work. Calling is not working at any time when I spend and whole day calling back to back to get thru. why don’t they just help or force the employers ( company) to place they claims in for their workers like GM did……I NEED HELP…PLEASE.

    1. Chad,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  3. i live in ga…all the day cares have shut down my wife and i have full time jobs,,,but i have to leave my company which i have been there for over two years,to take care of our child….can i still collect unemployment…this covid virus is why i have to leave my job…

    1. Gary,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  4. are you kidding me my son lost his job on 10/17/2020 hes mentally challenged and cant file on his own because he doesn’t know how so I started going to sites trying to file for him and the residence inn Marriott promised to help him and have done zip . ive tried 10 different sites and I keep getting dropped wen I complete forms and push submit. 12 days now n still cant file a claim.

    1. Martin,

      There’s only one website you should be trying from. Please let us know your state and we’ll share the website information.

  5. I have submitted my forms EXACTLY as I was instructed too on line. Even though I have filled out the paperwork correctly I keep getting emails asking for me to fill out the form that I have done multiple times already. Remuneration – Claimant Questionnaire is the issue. I got online and requested a phone call. 3 days ago. I just need to know that you guys received everything and I don’t owe any more information.
    Nobody answers the 617-626-6800 number. Just get directed to the internet. Well, you can’t speak with the internet. I am getting mixed messages and I fret that this will delay any benefits.
    Could someone please give me a call.

    1. James,

      Please try finding answers online since there might be limited phone support due to the shortage of staffing. This is a private forum and we’ll not be able to arrange a callback.

  6. I work for a church that has grown it’s congregation over almost 40 years and we now have 26 mostly full time employees, most being here many years. Will our employees be able to file and receive benefits since we are an EXEMPT from paying unemployment industry? State of Florida

  7. My unemployment benefits ran out 3/1/2020 am I able to file for extended benefits ? I live in California and am 62 years old.

    1. Ariana,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

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