Disaster unemployment assistance extended
SAN JUAN – The U.S. Department of Labor extended the filing deadline for Disaster Unemployment Assistance claims related to hurricanes Irma and María to Feb. 9, “based on Puerto Rico’s continued recovery from hurricane impacts.”
Employees or self-employed individuals on the island who became unemployed as a direct consequence of either September hurricane may be eligible for the assistance program.
Puerto Rico Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra explained that the aid does not substitute income earned and is for those who do not qualify for regular unemployment.
Some of the eligibility requirements are that the person has worked for someone or was self-employed when the disaster occurred or who lost their job because their workplace was affected or for not being able to commute as a result of the damage caused.
Another requirements are that the claimant was about to start work but could not as a result of the damage.
The financial assistance also applies to those whose main source of income came from a client that sustained damages or an entity that was destroyed or closed by the state, federal or local government as a result of the disaster.
Other reasons may apply if the local Labor Department’s Unemployment Insurance Program deems the unemployment case arose as a result of the disaster.
Those who are self-employed and have evidence of 2016 income must submit a copy of their income tax return, bank statements and other documents.
“Recognizing that many areas still lack power, with problems on public roads, among other challenges that applicants encounter, we requested an extension from the federal government so applicants can apply for the aid. Today [Friday] was the last day to request it, but the federal Labor Department granted us an extension until February 9,” Saavedra said in a written statement.
Eligible workers may file a claim online, here, or call the Puerto Rico Department of Labor call center at 787-945-7900, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.