Deadline to apply for disaster aid is Thursday

Napa and Sonoma wildfires, October 2017. Credit Noah Berger/San Francisco Chronicle
Napa and Sonoma wildfires, October 2017. Credit Noah Berger/San Francisco Chronicle

Don’t miss the November 16 deadline to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) if you are unable to work as a result of the October wildfires!

Anyone who cannot work due to the fires should apply as soon as possible for DUA. Unlike traditional unemployment insurance, DUA is available  to people who were self-employed but no longer can work and to workers who have run out of traditional UI benefits. Additional or different benefits may be available if you became disabled as a result of the fires. Our fact sheet on Workers’ Rights after a Disaster offers an overview. Lots more resources are below.

HOW TO APPLY: Apply for DUA online at this link, or go to the nearest office of the Employment Development Department, or call  1-800-300-5616 (for Spanish; numbers for English and other languages listed below). Applying online is easiest and fastest. Don’t worry that the online application doesn’t mention DUA; you are in the right place. You must provide proof of your income and a mailing address; check with your local post office or call 800-275-8777 if you are not receiving mail.

UNDOCUMENTED? Even if you are undocumented, and may not qualify for unemployment benefits, remember that you qualify for nearly all of the protections of other employment laws.

MORE HELP: The EDD’s fact sheet on the 2017 wildfires — here in English and in Spanish — contains many more links to helpful government and community-based resources. Unfortunately, however, undocumented workers are not eligible for DUA or traditional unemployment insurance. Please note that DUA is not available if you do not apply during the first month. The disaster was declared on October 17 so the deadline to apply is November 16. (Here’s the official announcement.)

CALLING TO FILE FOR DUA: Reach EDD by phone as follows:

  • English 1-800-300-5616
  • Spanish 1-800-326-8937
  • Cantonese 1-800-547-3506
  • Mandarin 1-866-303-0706
  • Vietnamese 1-800-547-2058
  • TTY (non-voice) 1-800-815-9387

OTHER QUESTIONS: If you are a low-wage or unemployed worker with other questions or claims related to your work, call our Workers’ Rights Clinic at 866-864-8208 to make an appointment (you can meet in person or talk on the phone with a legal counselor).

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