Unemployment benefits

Disaster Unemployment Assistance in California: how to apply and deadline

People who lost work as a result of the wildfires that ripped through California this summer have an extended period to claim extra assistance.

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Disaster Unemployment Assistance in California: how to apply and deadline
Josh Edelson AFP

The US Department of Labor is expanding the filing deadline for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits in six California counties: Plumas, Lassen, Tehama, Placer, Nevada and Trinity. They were set to expire October 1, but now it is possible to claim for extra support until November 30, 2021.

DUA applies to losses beginning the week of July 18, 2021. Eligible full-time workers are able to receive between $147 and $450 a week in benefits for a maximum period of 32 weeks, with the last payable week being February 26, 2022.

Who is eligible?

These DUA benefits are available to individuals who meet any of the following criteria in the six affected counties:

  • Worked or were a business owner or self-employed, or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment, in the disaster area. This includes, but is not limited to, those in the agricultural and fishing industries,
  • Cannot reach work because of the disaster or can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster,
  • Can establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their primary source of income,
  • Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster,
  • Became the head of their households because of a death caused by the disaster,
  • Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits and remain unemployed as a direct result of the disaster.

How can the benefits be claimed?

The quickest and easiest way for new claimants to apply for DUA is to use EDD’s UI Online application, which is available in both English and Spanish. Applicants can also get assistance at local job centers and Local Assistance Centers or Disaster Recovery Centers.

Claimants can also be applied for by phone between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week:

  • English: 1-800-300-5616
  • Spanish: 1-800-326-8937
  • Chinese (Cantonese): 1-800-547-3506
  • Chinese (Mandarin): 1-866-303-0706
  • Vietnamese: 1-800-547-2058

In order to receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed. This includes the individual's most recent tax return.

EDD Disaster-Related Services

The California Employment Development Department's Disaster-Related Services webpage includes more information for individuals and businesses impacted by disasters, including tax filing extensions for affected employers.

EDD also encourages individuals to visit the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services wildfire recovery website for information on Local Assistance Centers where individuals, families and businesses can access disaster assistance programs and services.