Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides unemployment benefits for individuals who lost their jobs or self-employment or who are no longer working as a direct result of a major disaster for which a disaster assistance period is declared, and who applied but are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. “Direct result of a major disaster” means an immediate result of the disaster itself, not the result of a longer chain of events caused or worsened by the disaster. See the Eligibility section for details.
Worker Protections During or After Natural Disasters
Employers may not discharge or discriminate against employees who evacuate under emergency evacuation orders. Employers who violate this provision are liable for any loss of wages or employer-provided benefits and must reinstate the employee to the same or equivalent position.
Emergency personnel and those who provide for the safety and well-being of the public are not covered by this law but their employer must provide them with adequate emergency shelter.
For more information, refer to Emergency Evacuation Discrimination.
DUA is Taxable Income
DUA payments must be reported as income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For more information, see Federal Income Taxes & Your Unemployment Benefits.
If you are eligible for regular benefits, we must pay those benefits before taking a DUA application.
You may be eligible for DUA if one of the following occurred as a direct result of the disaster:
- You had a week of unemployment following the date the major disaster began, and
- You lost your job, which was more than 50% of your total income, or
- You live in, work in, or travel through the disaster area, or
- Your place of employment was damaged or closed, or
- You were scheduled to start work but the job no longer exists or you can no longer reach the new job, or
- You suffered injury or incapacitation, or
- You became the breadwinner or major support of the household due to the death of the head of household.
DUA is available only during the Disaster Assistance Period, which begins with the first Sunday following the date that the major disaster is declared. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and DUA regulations determine when the Disaster Assistance Period begins and ends.
Temporary and seasonal workers are only eligible for DUA for the weeks that they would have been employed if the disaster had not occurred. For example, if a seasonal worker was scheduled to work for four weeks after the disaster and then under normal circumstances would be terminated, that worker would be eligible only for four weeks of DUA.
TWC must find out whether you are eligible for regular benefits before you can receive DUA.
- Apply for regular benefits in one of two ways.
- If you are eligible for regular benefits, we must pay those benefits before taking a DUA application. We will mail you information on your weekly benefit amount, how to request benefit payments, and a copy of our Unemployment Benefits Handbook (En Español/Tiếng Việt).
- If you are not eligible for regular benefits, you can apply for DUA online at Unemployment Benefit Services or by calling a Tele-Center at 800-939-6631. If you are eligible for DUA, we will mail you information on your weekly benefit amount, how to request payments, and a copy of our Unemployment Benefits Handbook (En Español/Tiếng Việt).
After you apply for DUA, you must:
- Complete your work search registration at WorkinTexas.com or your local Workforce Solutions office within three days of applying for DUA. You do not have to register if you were self-employed at the time of the disaster and are taking steps to reopen your business. If you do not plan to reopen your business, you must complete a work search registration and seek work.
- Send TWC proof of your employment that was affected by the disaster within 21 days of applying for DUA.
- Actively search for full-time employment unless TWC informs you that you are exempt from the work search requirement.
We may exempt work searches if there is a lot of damage to the businesses in the disaster area, if you have a return-to-work date within 12 weeks, or if you are self-employed and working to reopen your business.
- Request payment of DUA using the Payment Request form TWC mailed you. We will determine your eligibility for DUA on a week-to-week basis after reviewing your payment request.
- Make sure TWC has your current mailing address. If you cannot receive mail at your home address, either set up a general delivery address with the U.S. Postal Service or arrange to receive mail at a relative’s or friend’s home. If using someone else’s address, include an “in care of” line with their name in the address.
Assuming that DUA is the same as help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You must apply for FEMA assistance through FEMA, not TWC. For more information about FEMA assistance, visit www.fema.gov
Within 21 days of applying for DUA, TWC must have proof that you were:
- Working or self-employed at the time of the disaster
- Scheduled to start work on or after the date of the disaster
TWC must have documents that prove you were working, or scheduled to start working, at the time of the disaster. If you do not send us proof of employment by the 21-day deadline, we will stop paying you DUA and you will have to repay any benefits you received. In some cases, we can use information in our system, such as wage records, to prove you were employed at the time of the disaster.
Submit your proof of employment using TWC’s UI Submission Portal. Select DUA Proof of Employment at Time of Disaster from the Type of Submission drop-down menu.
If you cannot use the online portal you can submit the proof by fax or mail. Due to the heavy volume of mail, processing the proof received by fax or mail will be delayed.
Mail or fax proof of employment with your DUA Proof of Employment Cover Sheet to:
Texas Workforce Commission
Attn: DUA Proof
P.O. Box 149137
Austin, TX 78714-9137
Acceptable Proof of Employment
The proof you send us must be dated just prior to the disaster. Accepted forms of proof include:
- Recent pay stub, earnings statement, or voucher issued just prior to the disaster
- Written statement from your disaster-affected employer, or a notarized statement from a co-worker
- Recent bank records showing payroll direct deposit
Proof of Self-Employment
To prove self-employment, send one of the following items:
- Recent records connected to your business, such as bank records; a phone, utility or insurance bill; a sales tax return; current business license; or a State or Federal Employer Identification Number; or property titles, deeds, or a rental agreement for your place of business
- Recent newspaper, phone book, or Internet ad for your business
- Statement(s) from recent customers; or billing notices, invoices, or sales records
Proof of Prospective Employment
To prove prospective employment, send us a letter from the potential employer that includes all of the following information:
- Name and address of the employer
- Employer contact name and number
- Start date of the job
- Hours of the job
- Duration of the job
- Reason why you did not start work
Proof of Prospective Self-Employment
To prove prospective self-employment, send us one of the following:
- Property titles or deeds for the place of business
- Rental agreement or letter from a property owner showing you planned to open a business at the time of the disaster
- Other evidence that you were preparing to open a business, such as business loan documents, business-related receipts, advertising, state tax registration, business registration, Assumed Name Certificate, etc.
Family Unit or Business
If you worked in a family unit or business, we will assign wages and net income equally to the adult family members of the business, including wages earned by minors, unless you submit documentation to assign wages differently.
The past wages used to establish your DUA claim may use income not normally covered by regular unemployment, such as contract labor or self-employment earnings.
We will send you a DUA information packet after you apply. If you are missing wages on your DUA Statement of Wages and Potential Benefit Amounts, or if you disagree with the potential benefit amount, you may request a review by sending us all of the following documents:
- A letter requesting redetermination of your benefit amounts, or the DUA Proof of Employment Cover Sheet from your information packet, and
- Proof of wages/income for the most recently completed tax year:
- If you are an employee, send pay stubs, earning statements, IRS Form W-2 or IRS federal income tax Form 1040.
- If you are a contract laborer, send IRS federal income tax Form 1040 and Schedule C, F or SE.
- If you are self-employed, send IRS federal income tax Form 1040 and Schedule C, F or SE.
Fax or mail these documents to TWC at:
Texas Workforce Commission
Attn: DUA Proof
P.O. Box 149137
Austin, TX 78714-9137
Submit your proof promptly. We cannot adjust your wages and weekly benefit amount after the Disaster Assistance Period ends. If we add wages to your claim, we will mail you a new DUA Statement of Wages and Potential Benefit Amounts.
Note: Applicants who submit their tax information may not receive an immediate response. Please do not resubmit unless explicitly asked.
Your weekly benefit amount (WBA) is the amount you receive for weeks you are eligible for benefits.
Calculation of Weekly Benefit Amount
We calculate your DUA weekly benefit amount based on past wages during the base period, which is the most recently completed calendar year, January 1 through December 31. This is a different base period than regular unemployment claims.
To determine your DUA weekly benefit amount, we use the base period quarter with the highest wages, divide by 25 and round to the nearest dollar. Your WBA cannot exceed the maximum amount set by state law. You must have wages in at least two base-period quarters and wages totaling at least 37 times your WBA in order to qualify for more than the minimum WBA.
The calculation also applies to self-employed individuals.
Minimum Weekly Benefit Amount
The minimum DUA weekly benefit amount is 50% of the state average WBA. For example, if the state average WBA is $315, then the minimum DUA weekly benefit amount would be $157. We will use the minimum weekly benefit amount if you do not have any base period wages or you do not have enough wages to establish a benefit amount using the calculation above.
Benefit Amount Reductions
If you worked part time prior to the disaster, we will reduce your WBA in proportion to the number of hours you worked per week compared to the customary full-time hours for your occupation.
TWC may reduce your DUA payments if you receive any of the following:
- Benefits or insurance for loss of wages due to illness or disability
- Supplemental unemployment benefits paid pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement
- Private income protection insurance
- Workers’ Compensation or survivors benefits if you become the major support of the family as a result of the death of the head of the household because of the disaster
- Retirement pension or annuity
- Earnings from employment or self-employment
- Subsidy or price support payments, crop insurance payments and farm disaster relief (non-DUA) payments
- A court order to pay child support
DUA claimants can request benefit payment one of three ways:
- Online using TWC’s Unemployment Benefits Services
- Through Tele-Serv by calling 800-558-8321
- By mailing or faxing paper payment requests.
We will send you a two-week payment request form after you apply for DUA and each time you submit a payment request. Complete the payment request form and fax or mail it back to us on the date shown under your Social Security number.
The DUA payment request process is similar to that for regular unemployment benefits.
For Workers, Employees, or Contract Laborers
If you are not self-employed and work during a benefit payment period, report your hours and gross earnings as part of your payment request. For detailed information, go to Report Your Work & Earnings.
You must report the total amount of wages before deductions such as taxes. Report wages from all work (whether full-time, part-time, temporary, or contract work) in the week you performed the work, NOT when the earnings were paid. For example, if you worked during Week #1 but your employer paid you in Week #2, you must report the wages in Week #1, the week when the wages were earned.
You must actively search for full-time employment (unless exempt). If you are required to search for work, TWC will mail you a Work Search Notification letter listing the required minimum number of work search activities you must make each week and the Guidelines for a Productive Work Search. You must keep track of the number of work search activities you do each week.
For Self-Employed Individuals
You must report earnings and commissions before deductions such as operating expenses. Report your gross income in the week you receive the income, even if you performed the work in a prior week. For example, if you performed services in Week #1 but did not receive payment until Week #2, you must report the gross income in Week #2, the week when you were paid.
You must actively take steps each week to return to normal business activities. You must tell us how many hours per week you spend rebuilding your business. NOTE: If you take another job (whether full-time, part-time, temporary, or contract work), report your wages in the week you performed the work, NOT when the earnings were paid. For example, if you worked during Week #1 but your employer paid you in Week #2, you must report the wages in Week #1, the week when the wages were earned. If you do not plan to reopen your business, you must actively search for full-time employment and record your work search activities to remain eligible for benefits.
Self-employed farmers must also report subsidy/price support payments, crop insurance and farm disaster relief (non-DUA) payments.
DUA eligibility requirements are similar to those for regular unemployment benefits. To receive DUA, you must:
- Be unemployed as a direct result of the disaster
- Be legally authorized to work in the United States
- Be able to work and available for work
- Actively search for work, unless ill or injured due to the disaster
- Submit DUA payment requests on time
- Have not refused an offer or referral to suitable work
If you disagree with a decision on your DUA claim, you must mail or fax your written appeal no later than 60 days from the date TWC mailed the decision. We will use the postmark on mailed appeal letters or the date we receive your fax appeal letter to determine whether your appeal is timely.
Mail or fax your appeal to:
Texas Workforce Commission
101 E 15th St, Rm 410
Austin, Texas 78778
- Include your Social Security Number on the appeal.
- Include a copy of the determination you are appealing.
- Keep your fax confirmation as proof of transmission.
Continue to request payment every two weeks as necessary while you wait for the result of the appeal. If the appeal decision is in your favor, we can only pay you for weeks in which you requested payment and met all other requirements.
For more information about the appeals process, visit Introduction to the Unemployment Benefits Appeal Process.
DUA is paid using federal funds. Knowingly giving false information or withholding information to obtain or increase unemployment benefits is fraud, which can be prosecuted under state and federal laws. If you commit fraud, you will lose your remaining benefits, you must repay any benefits you received and you may face criminal charges. If convicted, you could face a fine and jail time. All information is subject to verification by TWC and the U.S. Department of Labor. Criminal or civil penalties or both will be enforced for violation of state and federal laws.
Your claim is confidential. However, we share some information with government agencies and their contractors for the administration and enforcement of laws, including verifying eligibility for public assistance, supporting law enforcement activities, and other purposes permitted by law. Allowable uses of confidential information may include performing statistical analysis, research and evaluation.
Disclosure may be made to entities that manage and evaluate programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and child support. We mail a notice of your claim to your last employer and may communicate with other former employers. If we pay you benefits by debit card, we share information with U.S Bank because it manages your debit-card account. U.S. Bank and government agencies with access to information must agree to comply with state and federal laws regarding the confidentiality of claim information.