Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Page: 4 of 9
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Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are available only to those individuals
who have become unemployed as a direct result of a declared major disaster.' First
created in 1970 through P.L. 91-606, DUA benefits are authorized by the Robert T.
Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Relief Act (the Stafford Act), which authorizes the
President to issue a major disaster declaration after state and local government resources have
been overwhelmed by a natural catastrophe or, "regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion
in any part of the United States" (42 U.S.C. 5122(2)). Based upon the request of the affected
state's governor, the President may declare a major disaster. The declaration identifies the areas in
the state eligible for assistance. The declaration of a major disaster provides the full range of
disaster assistance available under the Stafford Act, including, but not limited to, the repair,
replacement, or reconstruction of public and non-profit facilities, cash grants for the personal
needs of victims, housing, and unemployment assistance related to job loss from the disaster.
The Unemployment Compensation (UC) program generally does not provide UC benefits to the
self-employed, to those who are unable to work, or to those who do not have a recent earnings
history.2 However, when the President declares a major disaster, victims who would typically be
ineligible for UC may be eligible for DUA.
DUA benefits are funded through the Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The funds are transferred to the Department of Labor
(DOL) and then distributed by DOL to each affected state's UC agency.3
The individual eligibility requirements for DUA differ from the UC program requirements. For
example, eligibility for DUA benefits does not necessarily require that the individual have a
substantial work history and in some cases does not require that the worker be available for work
(unlike the UC program requirements). In particular, the DUA regulation defines eligible
unemployed workers to include
* the self-employed;
* workers who experience a "week of unemployment" following the date the major
disaster began when such unemployment is a direct result of the major disaster;
* workers unable to reach the place of employment as a direct result of the major
* workers who were to begin employment and do not have a job or are unable to
reach the job as a direct result of the major disaster;
1 Authorization for DUA can be found in the Stafford Act, Section 410, P.L. 100-707, 42 USC 5177. Regulations can
be found at 20 CFR 625.
2 For basics on the UC program, see CRS Report RL33362, Unemployment Insurance: Programs and Benefits.
3 For a description of the FEMA disaster declaration process, see CRS Report R43784, FEMA 's Disaster Declaration
Process: A Primer. For a summary of federal disaster assistance programs, see CRS Report RL31734, Federal Disaster
Assistance Response and Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries.
Congressional Research Service
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Whittaker, Julie M. Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), report, June 6, 2016; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc855949/m1/4/: accessed December 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.