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Disaster Unemployment Assistance: How Workers Can Access the Program After the Earthquakes in Puerto Rico

Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance in Puerto Rico

Know your rights

If you were unemployed due to the recent Puerto Rico earthquakes, you may be eligible to obtain up to 26 weeks of federal “DUA” (Disaster Unemployment Assistance), ranging from $66 to $190 in benefits per week.  These funds are processed through the Department of Labor of Puerto Rico.

Who can apply?

The federal DUA benefits may be available to any of the following unemployed workers:

  • Self-employed people who lost their business or suffered a substantial interruption of activities as a direct result of the earthquakes; or
  • Workers whose place of employment was damaged due to the earthquakes and work is not available; or
  • Workers who cannot reach their employment as a result of the earthquakes; or
  • Workers unemployed because of an injury caused as a direct result of the earthquakes.

Are there requirements?

There are several main requirements for a person to qualify for the federal DUA benefits:

  • The individual must be unemployed as a “direct result” of the earthquakes in any of the designated disaster areas: Adjuntas, Arecibo, Cabo Rojo, Ciales, Corozal, Guánica, Guayanilla, Hormigueros, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Lajas, Lares, Las Marías, Maricao, Mayagüez, Morovis, Orocovis, Peñuelas, Ponce, Sabana Grande, San Germán, San Sebastián, Utuado, Villalba or Yauco.
  • The individual filed for but does not qualify for regular unemployment insurance (UI) in Puerto Rico or any state or U.S. territory.
  • The individual should be able to work, unless he or she has suffered an injury as a result of the disaster.
  • Once found to be eligible for DUA, workers must actively look for work and accept suitable work offered to them.

When and how should I apply?

If you have questions about your eligibility, be sure to apply with the Department of Labor. There is no cost or penalty for any application.

  • You should act quickly! To qualify, the person must meet the application deadline, which is April 2, 2020.
  • To apply for DUA, contact the Puerto Rico Department of Labor by calling 787-945-7900 or the emergency number for earthquake victims, which is 787-395-7328.If you are outside of Puerto Rico, you can call 787-945-7898. More information on how to apply is also available on-line at http://www.trabajo.pr.gov., or by visiting the emergency mobile units listed on the website.
  • The DUA application requires proof of employment and earnings, as well as a Social Security Number. The proof of employment is due no later than 21 days after the application is filed with the state. For self-employed applicants, copies of tax returns are required as proof of income and self-employment.

What happens if the application is approved?

  • The DUA payments will be made by the Department of Labor for the weeks of unemployment due to the disaster for which the claimant has been determined eligible.

Example:  If you were a self-employed taxi driver in Ponce, which is one of the designated disaster areas, and lost your job because the taxi was damaged or destroyed as a result of the earthquake, you can collect a minimum of $66 and a maximum of $190 for each week that you remain unemployed as a direct result of the earthquake for up to 26 weeks.

More on disasters

Find more information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance in Puerto Rico here.

Find more information related to your rights and claims here: https://ayudalegalpr.org/issues/desastres-naturales

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