Farmers Eligible for Hurricane Matthew Disaster Unemployment Assistance


On October 13th, the NC Division of Employment Security announced the approval of 20 North Carolina counties for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The following counties were approved, although more counties may be added at a later date: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Dare, Edgecombe, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Nash, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wayne and Wilson.

This program is available for individuals who are prevented from working due to the hurricane, including farmers who are prevented from performing their normal tasks due to storm damage. This includes not being able to farm because they are cleaning up damage.

Because these benefits are time limited by the calendar rather than by the duration of benefits, we suggest that individuals sign up quickly.

Below is the information from the NC Division of Employment Security.
[https://desncc.com/DocumentViewer?Filename=PRGeneral/NR_DUA__Oct13_Rev20_M.pdf]

Individuals who are affected by the disaster and are unable to continue working must file an application for benefits within 30 days from today – or, by November 14, 2016 (Note: Because the 30th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the time limit was extended until the next business day).

Workers who became unemployed as a direct result of the effects of Hurricane Matthew impacting North Carolina, may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits under the DUA program. Business owners affected by the storm may also qualify for benefits.

Workers or business owners meeting the following criteria may be eligible for benefits:
• Individuals who are unemployed due to the disaster, and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits. If you are eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits, you must first exhaust those benefits before you are eligible for DUA.
• Self-employed individuals and small business owners who lost income due to the disaster.
• Individuals who were prevented from working due to an injury caused by the disaster.
• Individuals who have become the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death or injury of the previous major supplier of household income.
• Individuals who are unable to reach their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster.
• Individuals who were to commence employment or self-employment but were prevented from doing so by the disaster.

DUA is funded entirely by the federal government. Individuals need to file first for regular unemployment insurance. If an individual is determined ineligible for regular unemployment insurance, or has exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefits, a DUA claim can then be filed. Individuals will need their Social Security number, copies of their most recent federal income tax forms or check stubs, or documentation to support they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed.

DUA is available for weeks of employment beginning with the week starting October 9, 2016, and lasting for up to 26 weeks, as long as the claimant’s unemployment continues to be as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

Individuals may contact DES by calling 1-866-795-8877 from 8AM to 5PM to apply for DUA benefits. Individuals are encouraged to file as soon as possible. If you are self-employed, you will be required to submit your most recent Federal Income Tax returns and/or your profit and loss statement to establish your weekly amount. If claimants have any questions, they can email DES at esc.dua@nccommerce.com or go to our website at www.ncesc.com.


About Scott Marlow

Scott currently serves as Executive Director of the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA. Scott’s specialty is financial infrastructure, including access to credit and risk management for value-added producers. He previously directed the organization’s Farm Sustainability program, providing in-depth financial counseling to farmers in crisis, education on disaster assistance programs and access to credit, and addressing the needs of mid-scale farmers who are increasing the sustainability of their farms by transitioning to higher-value specialty markets.