For Immediate Release - September 06, 2011

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

Individuals in Berkshire and Franklin Counties May be Eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits

September 6, 2011 - The Patrick-Murray Administration announced today that Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits are available to help those left jobless as a result of damage and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene. On September 3, 2011, President Obama declared Massachusetts a federal disaster area, making the state eligible for federal disaster aid to supplement recovery efforts in the areas struck by the tropical storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) declared Berkshire and Franklin Counties as official disaster areas and under that declaration, individuals living, working, or scheduled to work in those counties may be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance benefits.

An individual must be continuously unemployed as a direct result of the tropical storm in order to continue receiving Disaster Unemployment Assistance and, if eligible, he or she can collect benefits for the weeks during which they fulfilled the necessary criteria. Workers who experienced temporary job loss as a direct result of the disaster and who do not qualify for state Unemployment Insurance Benefits, such as self-employed individuals, may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

The disaster assistance period began on August 28, 2011 and ends the week ending March 3, 2012, and the filing deadline for individuals eligible for assistance is October 6, 2011. Please note that benefits received under Disaster Unemployment Assistance do not impact employers' experience rate. The first payable week will be the week ending September 3, 2011. An individual must be continuously unemployed as a direct result of the disaster in order to continue receiving Disaster Unemployment Assistance and, if eligible, he or she can collect benefits for the weeks during which they fulfilled the necessary criteria. Workers who experienced temporary job loss as a direct result of the tropical storm and who do not qualify for state Unemployment Insurance Benefits, such as self-employed individuals, may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

"We are grateful to President Obama for swift action to aid the Massachusetts communities impacted by Tropical Storm Irene," said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein. "Relief for eligible individuals is available through Disaster Unemployment Assistance. It's important that people who are eligible access these funds as soon as possible."

Examples of reasons for unemployment that may make a person eligible to receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance:

  • You were injured in the disaster and are unable to work, whether you are an employee or self- employed.
  • Your workplace was damaged or destroyed; or you can't work because of the disaster.
  • Your transportation to work is not available because of the disaster.
  • You cannot get to your job because you must travel through the area affected by the disaster.
  • You were about to begin working, but could not because of the disaster.
  • You derived most of your income from areas affected by the disaster, whether you worked for yourself or for an employer, and your business is down as a direct result of the disaster.

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and if you are uncertain as to your eligibility, you are encouraged to apply. All applicants will be required to submit wage information and documentation regarding the basis of your claim. Any impacted individuals may file a claim for unemployment benefits due to Tropical Storm Irene. All claims must be filed by October 6, 2011. Please call the Department of Unemployment Assistance at 1-877-232-6200 if you are an unemployed worker or self-employed individual who lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in the area impacted by the tropical storm. For more information, please visit www.mass.gov/dua/disasterui .


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