Senator Lanza today announced that New Yorkers who lost their job or income due to Hurricane Sandy now have an extension from December 3, 2012 to February 4, 2013 to apply for federal disaster unemployment assistance (DUA).
Additionally, claimants now have up to 90 days to submit proof of employment or self-employment and will be provided an IRS link to expedite the retrieval of lost or destroyed tax documents.
Disaster unemployment benefits are available to provide financial support to anyone who has lost their job and live or work in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties.
This assistance supplements New York’s existing unemployment insurance system and expands eligibility to include individuals who might otherwise not be covered. The Federal Government has committed to providing additional assistance as the demand for these services is identified.
Since DUA relief was announced, the Department of Labor has received more than 17,000 calls related to disaster unemployment. More than 2,700 for claims disaster unemployment assistance have already been filed, surpassing the combined total claims filed for Hurricane Irene and Lee.
Anyone unemployed as a result of Hurricane Sandy can submit a claim to the Department of Labor. The criterion for collecting disaster assistance is broader than for collecting regular unemployment benefits. Specifically, an individual can collect disaster assistance in any of the following cases:
· Injured in the disaster and unable to work, whether the person is an employee or self-employed.
· Workplace is damaged, or destroyed, or the person cannot work because of the disaster.
· Transportation to work is not available because of the disaster.
· Cannot get to work because they must travel through the affected area, which is impossible due to disaster.
· Scheduled to begin working, but cannot because of the disaster.
· Derived most of income from areas affected by the disaster, and business is closed or inoperable because of the disaster.
· Is not otherwise eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
However, this list is not exhaustive, and if someone is uncertain about eligibility, he or she is encouraged to apply. All applicants will be required to submit wage information and documentation supporting their application.
Examples of self-employment include small business owners, independent taxi drivers, vendors, independent commercial fisherman, and farmers.
State Department of Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera said, “Our hearts go out to the victims of this disaster. I commend our staff members, who are working extended hours and on weekends to help meet the demand for those applying for this vital assistance.”
To apply for unemployment benefits or disaster unemployment assistance, those affected by the storm and have lost their job or income should call the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) at 1-888-209-8124, or 1-877-358-5306 if they live out of state. Applicants should answer the questions to indicate they lost their job due to Hurricane Sandy. In order to receive benefits you must apply by February 4, 2013.