Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) for Independent Contractors, Self-Employed and others
If you are unable to work after your area was impacted by a federally declared major or severe disaster you are most likely eligible for unemployment compensation even if you havent paid for unemployment compensation while self employed.

By Murray Wennerlund published 10-4-2022 updated 10-4-2022

You will need to apply for your Disaster Unemployment Assistance with your state. 
Your state will delay the launch of DUA and many states will claim not to have a method of paying the federal dollars. 
It's important that you understand that most state unemployment compensation payouts come from a state generated fund and it's reimbursed by the federal government. In Louisiana and other states they look to delay any payment so to reduce the number of people eligible for the assistance. 

From the state of your disaster as dated by FEMA or the day you evacuated to a safe location is the day you were unemployed. 

The time period to which you are unemployed by the impact of the declared disaster is the date of the start of the disaster to the time you are able to return to work if self employed and the time you do return to work if employed by an employer that closed for a period of time due to the disaster. 

Don't confuse the DUA of a storm related event with the DUA of the COVID-19 period. Your state will have all the information for you online. I'm sharing with you it's important to file for your DUA as soon as you can because their will be a 1 to 2 week waiting period which is not in most cases and based on your states policy retro actively paid. 

Here's the information fact sheet text provided by the Dept. of Labor


In order to be eligible for DUA, individuals who meet one of the qualifying conditions above must also meet all the following eligibility requirements:

  1. The individual is not eligible for regular UI
  2. The individual is unemployed as a direct result of the disaster
  3. The individual is able and available for work, unless injured as a direct result of the disaster
  4. The individual filed an application for DUA within 30 days of the date of the public announcement of the availability of DUA and
  5. The individual has not refused an offer of employment in a suitable position.


In the event of a disaster, the affected state will publish announcements about the availability of DUA. To file a claim, individuals who are unemployed as a direct result of the disaster should contact their State Unemployment Insurance agency

Individuals who have moved or have been evacuated to another state should contact the affected state for claim filing instructions. They may also contact the State Unemployment Insurance agency in the state where they are currently residing for claim filing assistance.

Applications for DUA must be filed within 30 days of the announcement of the availability of DUA in the state. Individuals must follow the instructions in the announcement and file for DUA based on the filing method used by their state UI agency (i.e., in-person, mail, telephone, or internet).


The individual must continue to file weekly or biweekly claims for DUA benefits according to the instructions given by the state agency where the DUA application is filed.


The individual will need to provide proof (e.g., income tax return, bank statements) to document employment or self-employment or to document work that was to begin on or after the date of the disaster. If proof of employment cannot be provided at the time the claim is filed, individuals have 21 calendar days from the time the claim was filed to meet this requirement. Failure to submit this documentation within the 21 days will result in a denial of DUA, and any benefits already paid will be considered overpaid. Individuals are required to repay any benefits overpaid.


The weekly benefit amount (WBA) will be based on the gross wages of the individual. If the individual is self-employed, the weekly benefit amount will be based on the net earnings (income) from self-employment. Generally, benefits are calculated using the same formula used for state UI benefits however, if the individual qualifies for less than 50 percent of the state average UI WBA, the WBA will be increased to 50 percent of the state’s average WBA, with certain exceptions for part-time workers.

DUA benefits are generally paid for up to 26 weeks, beginning with the first week following the date the major disaster began, and ending with the 26th week following the date the major disaster is declared by the President.


An individual can be disqualified for DUA benefits or DUA benefits can be terminated if any of the following occur:

  1. The individual becomes employed and the earnings exceed the weekly benefit amount allowed under the state’s law
  2. The individual refuses to accept suitable employment without good cause
  3. The individual refuses to accept a referral to suitable employment without good cause
  4. The individual is not able or available for work (unless the inability is due to an injury caused as
    1. direct result of the disaster)
  5. The individual is not available for work, unless the unavailability is due to the individual’s preparations to resume self-employment or.
  6. The individual is no longer unemployed as a direct result of the disaster.


Any denial of DUA benefits may be appealed. Individuals must file the appeal within 60 days of the date the determination was issued.

FEMA provides the funding for DUA benefit payments and the costs for states to administer the program. DUA payments are made by state UI agencies to eligible individuals unemployed as a direct result of the disaster.

DUA benefits are subject to Federal income tax. Individuals may elect to have Federal withholding Individuals will receive Form 1099-G to file with their income tax return.

Sections 410 and 423, Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) (42 USC 5177) Title 20, Chapter V, Part 625, Code of Federal Regulations (20 CFR Part 625), as amended.