Flood victims granted unemployment benefits

Once the president declares a disaster, victims may qualify for benefits.
Water floods on Apr. 28 over Route 53 in Poplar Bluff, Mo. The excessive flooding in a myriad of Missouri towns has prohibited many residents from getting to and from their jobs, making some eligible for unemployment benefits.

The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has declared that victims of the recent natural disasters can apply for unemployment benefits.

“What we’re doing is informing people that if they were unable to work because of the natural disaster, whether it be the flooding or the recent tornadoes, they should go ahead and file for unemployment,” said Amy Susan, Director of Communications at the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The Department of Labor’s website encourages those affected by the flooding to apply for unemployment.

“All affected workers, owners, farmers, employers and employees in the southeastern part of the state affected by flooding and unable to work should file for regular unemployment benefits,” the website stated.

Susan said new applicants will still have to go through the same process to gain unemployment benefits as others who have lost their jobs.

“Every claim is looked at, just as it would in everyday claims so there are eligibility requirements that they have to make and meet,” she said. “That process does not change.”

Unemployment benefits are offered in two different ways. Susan said there are state benefits as well as Disaster Unemployment Assistance. State unemployment benefits are given when an individual loses his job to no fault of his own, whereas Disaster Unemployment Assistance is only approved once the president confirms there was a disaster.

“At this time, we do not have that,” Susan said. “It has not been made available, so what we are trying to inform people about is to get on the website, look at the information available, and they can file an unemployment statement at that point.”

According to the Department of Labor’s website, once the public is notified that the president declares a disaster, they can apply for DUA.

The need for unemployment benefits due to natural disasters happened in Missouri in 2009, Susan said. Ice storms at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 caused significant damage to businesses and prevented people from going to work.

“It’s been a few years but yet we have encountered natural disasters like this in the past and it appears they’ll happen in the future,” Susan said.

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