Disaster Unemployment Assistance


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U.S. Department of Labor provides guidance on financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.


Eligibility Criteria for Disaster Unemployment Assistance

  • You no longer have a job.
  • You are unable to reach your place of work.
  • You were to start work, but you do not have a job or are unable to reach the job.
  • You cannot work because of a disaster-incurred injury.

Individuals must be able to work, unless they are injured, and available for work, which are the same requirements to be eligible for state unemployment insurance benefits.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance Benefits

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to individuals for weeks of unemployment beginning with the first week following the date the disaster began. Coverage continues for up to 26 weeks after the major disaster was declared, as long as unemployment continues to be a result of the major disaster.

The maximum weekly benefit amount is determined under the provisions of the state law for unemployment insurance in the state where the disaster occurred.

Filing a Claim

Check with the state unemployment office at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for information on filing a Disaster Unemployment Assistance claim.


 What If You Are Self Employed?

In most cases, self employed workers and/or freelance workers who lose their income are not eligible for unemployment benefits. That's because employers contribute to a fund for unemployment benefits and if you are operating as self employed, you probably didn't pay into the unemployment fund.

However, if your business is incorporated and pays into unemployment you may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. Farm or ranch owners may qualify for disaster unemployment, if they are out of work because of the disaster and are not covered by regular unemployment insurance. 

If you were unemployed as a result of a major disaster you may be eligible to receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Check with your unemployment office to see if you qualify.