Last Day for Sandy Victims to Apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance

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Monday is the last day for New Yorkers and New Jerseyans affected by Sandy to apply for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance. 

People may be eligible for up to 27 weeks of benefits if their jobs were interrupted or wiped out by the storm, or even if their transportation to work was knocked out.  

The benefit can be applied retroactively.  

"If somebody were to file today and told us that they'd been out of business since the disaster, then the disaster unemployment claim would go back to that date," said Ron Marino, assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

DUA is only available to people who are not covered by the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, so applicants must first submit claims for UI to see if they are eligible.

In New York, unemployment benefits are not available for the first week that a person is out of work, but some DUA benefits are.

David Fillingame, a lawyer with Volunteers of Legal Service, said his organization and others that provide free legal help related to UI and DUA have received relatively few inquires about DUA considering the scope of Sandy's damage. 

"I was expecting to get a lot of calls especially by those people who were just out of work for a week because it seemed like most of New York was in that situation," he said. 

As of January 26, New Jersey had received 3,342 applications and had approved 2,250 of them. Most came from individuals in hard-hit shore communities, according to assistant commissioner Marino.  

As of January 31, New York received 9,552 applications and approved 4,624, according to a spokesperson for the state's Department of Labor. 

New Yorkers who think they may be eligible should contact the New York State Department of Labor. New Jersey residents can contact the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.