State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said this week that workers in seven more Georgia counties may now be eligible for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to compensate for income lost as a direct result of Hurricane Michael.

The additional affected counties are Calhoun, Clay, Laurens, Randolph, Sumter, Tift, and Turner.  These counties are now authorized for DUA benefits.

“The heavy damage that resulted from this storm forced businesses to close for repairs, leaving owners and employees without incomes,” said Butler.  “These federal benefits help provide a financial bridge until their incomes resume.”

DUA is a federal program established to help workers whose primary income is lost, or interrupted, as a direct result of a disaster declared by the President.  It differs from regular state unemployment insurance in that it also provides benefits to self-employed business people, farmers, diversified farming operators, loggers, commission-paid employees and others who are not eligible under the state’s program.

This is the second time the federal government has added to the list of counties eligible for DUA benefits.

Originally six counties were approved as eligible.  Those counties were Baker, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Miller and Seminole.  The deadline for those individuals to apply is Nov. 15.

The second group also covered seven counties – Crisp, Grady, Lee, Mitchell, Terrell, Thomas and Worth.  These affected individuals must apply no later Nov. 19.

A total of 20 Georgia counties have been issued DUA benefits thus far.

Applicants may be eligible for a weekly benefit of as much as $330 beginning the week of Oct.14.  Individuals in the authorized counties who were directly affected by Michael must first apply for regular unemployment insurance on the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) website at dol.georgia.gov or in person at any career center.  The GDOL will notify claimants if they are also eligible to file for DUA.

Eligible claimants in this latest group must apply for these benefits no later than Nov. 26.

When applying for federal DUA benefits, verification of income may be required. Applicants should be prepared to provide proof of earnings for the most recently completed tax year. Acceptable proof of earnings include copies of most recent completed income tax returns, copies of quarterly estimated income tax payment records, or similar documents.

DUA benefits may also be available to individuals who become the breadwinner or who provide major financial support for a household because the head of household died as a direct result of the hurricane. Individuals applying for benefits under such circumstances must present proof of the death of the head of household, such as a death certificate or affidavit.

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