Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is a federally-funded program 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 1974.
DUA provides financial assistance and employment services 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. After the president makes the declaration and defines the disaster area (if DUA benefits are made available), the Department of Workforce Services announces the filing period and issues filing instructions for DUA applications in a newspaper of general circulation and other news media. Under the DUA program, the department takes applications, determines eligibility, and pays benefits.
DUA is available to unemployed workers or self-employed individuals that were employed, or lived, or were to commence employment in the major disaster area when the major disaster occurred. Also eligible are individuals who become the breadwinner or major support because the head of household has died as a direct result of the major disaster.
DUA will not be paid for a week used as a waiting period on a regular Unemployment Insurance claim.
DUA is not to serve as a substitute for regular unemployment insurance benefits. You are not eligible for DUA and you are not required to file an initial application for DUA if you meet one of the following:
You have established a regular unemployment benefit claim before and you are still eligible for benefits on that claim, or
You can qualify for and draw regular unemployment benefits, extended benefits, Trade Readjustment Allowances, Federal Supplementary Benefits, or Federal Unemployment Compensation Benefits.
DEFINITION OF MAJOR DISASTER
A “major disaster” means any natural disaster (including hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, earthquake, drought, ice conditions, fire or other catastrophe) declared by the President to warrant federal government assistance to communities and individuals. After the President makes the declaration and defines the disaster area (if DUA benefits are made available), the Department of Workforce Services announces the filing period and issues filing instructions for DUA applications in a newspaper of general circulation and other news media.
SOURCE OF FUNDS AND PURPOSE OF PROGRAM
Funds for this program are provided by the federal government and do not come from employer payroll taxes used to finance regular unemployment insurance benefits.
DUA provides temporary income to eligible individuals who are unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster. Reemployment assistance is provided through the Department of Workforce Services Job Service.
GENERAL ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
In order to be eligible for DUA you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
File an initial application for DUA within 30 days of the date the Department of Workforce Services issued a newspaper announcement of the availability of assistance, and
Your unemployment or ability to perform services as a self-employed individual must have been caused as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the President of the United States, and
You must present documented proof of employment and wages within 21 calendar days from date of filing DUA claim. If proof is not submitted, DUA will be denied and an overpayment could result.
The wages used to calculate your weekly DUA amount must meet the requirements of the Arkansas Employment Security Law and/or Law governing the DUA Program.
CONDITIONS OF UNEMPLOYMENT AS A DIRECT RESULT OF THE MAJOR DISASTER
The following conditions of unemployment must have occurred as a direct result of the major disaster to qualify for DUA:
You no longer have a job, or
You are unable to reach your place of employment, self-employment, or
You were scheduled to start a new job or cannot reach the new job, or
You have become the breadwinner or major support of your family because the head of household died in the disaster, or
You cannot work because of an injury caused by the disaster.
If you are not a citizen of the United States, you cannot be paid DUA benefits based on your services unless you were authorized to work by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the United States at the time such services were performed and while filing for benefits.
REPORTING AND FILING REQUIREMENTS
DUA is paid on a calendar week basis in Arkansas
Initial and weekly DUA claims must be filed timely and in accordance with instructions from your local Department of Workforce Services office.
You must make an active search for work during each week claimed.
You must be able and available for work within the meaning of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services law, unless you are unable to work due to an injury that is a direct result of the disaster, or you are unable to reach your place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.
You must report wages when earned (not when paid) for each week claimed.
COMPUTATION OF WEEKLY DUA AMOUNT
The computation of the weekly amount for DUA will be based on gross wages for the unemployed worker and net earnings for unemployed self-employed individuals. All wages earned for performance of services in the most recent tax year will be used to compute the weekly DUA amount. The DUA weekly benefit amount will be computed in accordance with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services law. The weekly amount shall be the weekly amount of compensation the individual would have been paid as regular unemployment insurance compensation unless the weekly benefit amount is less than 50% of the average weekly payment of regular unemployment benefits. The maximum weekly DUA amount shall not exceed the maximum weekly amount for regular unemployment insurance benefits payable in the state. Employment, wages, and self-employment that are not covered by the Arkansas Employment Security law shall be treated in the same manner, and with the same effect as covered employment and wages. Employment and wages that are prohibited by federal law shall not be included.
If applicant gives a statement because he/she has no proof of wages and/or employment/self-employment due to it being destroyed as a direct result of a major disaster, his DUA weekly benefit amount will be established at 50% of the average weekly payment of regular unemployment insurance benefits. If applicant fails to supply needed documentation within 21 calendar days from date of filing initial DUA application as required, DUA benefits will be denied. If required documentation or partial documentation is submitted within the 21 calendar days necessary adjustment to DUA weekly benefit amount will be made. Such adjustment could result in an overpayment or supplemental pay on any benefits already received by the applicant.
DURATION OF BENEFITS
The disaster assistance period begins with the first week following the date the major disaster began. During the disaster assistance period, DUA is available to individuals as long as their unemployment, caused by the disaster, continues or until they are reemployed in a suitable position, but no longer than 26 weeks after the major disaster is declared. An applicant’s continued eligibility for benefits is determined on a week-to-week basis.
REDUCTION OF DUA BENEFITS
The weekly DUA amount payable to you will be reduced by the amount of the following that you have received for a week or will receive for a week:
Any compensation or insurance from any source for loss of wages due to illness or disability; such as private income protection insurance, etc.;
Supplemental unemployment benefits (SUB) pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement
Worker’s Compensation by virtue of death of head of household;
Any public or private retirement pension or annuity deductible under the Arkansas Employment Security law;
Gross earnings in excess of 40% of your DUA weekly amount;
The law also provides for the deduction of unpaid child support obligations, based upon a signed agreement between yourself and the Child Support Enforcement agency or a valid court order; and
An option of voluntary withholding of Federal Income Tax from DUA benefits is also available. Ask your local office interviewer about the option.
DISQUALIFICATION OR TERMINATION OF BENEFITS
Your eligibility for DUA benefits will be terminated when
You become re-employed in a suitable position, or
You refuse without good cause to accept available suitable work or a referral to suitable work without good cause, or
You are not able and available for suitable work (except within special provisions of DUA), or
You fail to comply with the work search requirements of the Arkansas Employment Security Law and Regulations, or
You are no longer unemployed as a direct result of the disaster
NOTICE OF DUA DETERMINATION OF ENTITLEMENT
If you qualify for DUA, you will be mailed a written determination or re-determination of entitlement. If you do not qualify for DUA, you will be mailed a written determination or re-determination explaining the reason you are not eligible. The notice will include information regarding your rights to request reconsideration or review and the manner in which such reconsideration or review may be obtained.
You are responsible for any information you furnish for the purpose of claiming benefits. Verification may be made as the correctness of all information furnished. If you willingly make a false statement or conceal information in regard to your right to receive assistance, you are subject to any applicable criminal prosecution and penalties under State or Federal law. In addition, you may be disqualified from receiving DUA benefits and will be liable for repayment of any overpayment of benefits.
If you do not agree with a decision made regarding your DUA claim, you have the right to appeal within 60 days of the date the determination is mailed to you.
You may file an appeal by either completing a written appeal form (which may be obtained from any Department of Workforce Services office) or by writing to the Arkansas Appeal Tribunal, P.O. Box 8013, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203. If you file an appeal, attach a copy of the determination you are appealing to your appeal letter. Be sure to include your social security number on all correspondence relating to your appeal.
You must continue to file weekly claims for any weeks you think you are eligible while your appeal is pending.
ARE MY BENEFITS TAXABLE?
DUA benefits are subject to federal income taxes provided you are required to file a tax return. You will be mailed a statement of benefits paid to you after the year has ended. The Internal Revenue Service will be given this same information.
You have the option of having federal income tax in the amount of 10% withheld from your weekly DUA amount. Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claimants Income Tax Withholding Program ESD-ARK-501(6) must be completed to deduct federal income tax.
It may be necessary for you to make estimated tax payments. For more information on when you should make estimated tax payments, see IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, or the instructions for Form 1040-ES.
The Internal Revenue Service can furnish complete information on reporting and computing the tax.