President Obama recently declared the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota a disaster area because of severe storms, straight-line winds and flooding during the period of May 8-29, 2015. Subsequently, employees and self-employed individuals of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who have lost their jobs or incomes as a direct result of one or more of the disasters might be eligible for unemployment benefits, in the form of Disaster Unemployment Assistance.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is a special program funded by the federal government that becomes active, if required, after the President of the United States has declared one or more major disaster areas in a state.
Federal aid available in the declared disaster areas includes up to 26 weeks in unemployment payments (DUA) per person. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrates DUA and other types of federal disaster aid.
Employees who have lost their jobs as a direct result of severe storms, straight-line winds or flooding in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation might be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, if they’re not eligible for standard state unemployment benefits. Because self-employed individuals typically aren’t eligible for standard state benefits, DUA also covers those who have lost income due directly to one or more of the disasters.
To file a claim for DUA (and/or for other assistance), see Apply for Assistance at FEMA’s Website or call 800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster victims who have speech or hearing impairments may call 800-462-7585 through their TTY devices.
Beware of scams! Con artists attempt to exploit disaster victims by charging bogus fees for filing DUA claims. Filing a DUA claim is always free, as is filing a claim for standard state unemployment benefits. Never pay a fee, no matter how “governmentally official” or unsuspecting the so-called “offer” seems. There are several other disaster recovery scams to avoid, too. See also Justice Department Officials Raise Awareness of Disaster Fraud Hotline.
If you have limited means and need legal assistance as the victim of a disaster or a related scam, some local lawyers volunteer to help victims by charging no fees or only small fees. A free lawyer referral service might be able to help you find such a lawyer, as might a non-profit legal-aid organization in your state.