Disaster Unemployment Assistance available for workers affected by Tropical Storm Gita
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Department of Human Resources is accepting applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) as a result of the Presidential Disaster Declaration for workers in American Samoa who lost their jobs and self-employed individuals who have been unable to work due to damage sustained from Tropical Storm Gita.
Severe weather has devastated homes and businesses, resulting in disaster-related unemployment. DUA provides temporary unemployment benefits to individuals who are unemployed or self-unemployed as a direct result of the disaster. DUA is available for eligible unemployed employees, self-employed individuals, farmers as well as fishermen engaged in business at the time of the disaster.
Individuals in American Samoa who lost work as a direct result of Tropical Storm Gita may apply for DUA in person if they have a week(s) of unemployment after the incident date of Feb. 7, 2018.
DUA benefits in American Samoa are up to $180.00 a week and are available from weeks of unemployment beginning Feb. 11, 2018 until the week ending Sept. 1, 2018 provided that the individual’s unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster.
DUA applications should be filed within 30 days from the date of this announcement. Therefore, the deadline for filing DUA claims is June 21, 2018. Applications and other forms may be obtained at the Department of Human Resources, Employment & Training Division, 2nd floor, Executive Office Building, Utulei.
WHO CAN APPLY FOR DUA
Workers, including unemployed self-employed individuals, who were living or working in American Samoa at the time of the disaster and are totally, part-totally, or partially unemployed as a direct result of the disaster may apply for DUA. Individuals must have lost work and wages or a majority of income or revenue because their employer’s business or their self-employed business was damaged or destroyed or closed by the federal ‘state government due to the disaster. In addition, one of the following conditions may have occurred as a direct result of the disaster:
- The individual is unable to reach his/her place of employment due to the disaster;
- The individual was scheduled to start work and the job no longer exists or the individual is unable to reach the job;
- The individual became the breadwinner or major support because the head of the household died as a direct result of the disaster;
- The individual cannot work because an injury caused a direct result of the major disaster; and
- The individual’s work hours have been reduced as a direct result of the major disaster.
Individuals who wish to receive DUA benefits must provide proof of identity and demonstrate their status as U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or qualified aliens. This is irrespective of territory law eligibility criteria for regular unemployment benefits. Qualified aliens include:
• Legal permanent resident (“green card” holder)
• An asylee, refugee, or an alien whose deportation is being withheld
• Alien paroled into the U.S. for at least one year
• Alien granted conditional entry (per law in effect prior to April 1, 1980)
• Cuban/Haitian entrant
• Aliens in the U.S. who have been abused, subject to battery or extreme cruelty by a spouse or other family/ household member, or have been a victim of a severe form of human trafficking
• Aliens whose children have been abused and alien children whose parent has been abused who fit certain criteria
Also, to receive DUA payments, individuals must provide all required documentation in person at one of the above locations within 21 days from the day the claim was filed. A list of the required documentation will be provided with the DUA applications forms.
Examples of required documentation (due within 21 days) include but are not limited to:
- A government issued picture identification, driver’s license, passport, alien registration card, or Social Security Number.
- Copies of the most recent federal income tax form(s), check stubs, and other proof of earnings Federal/AS income tax forms, profit and loss statement, and proof of business loss due to the disaster.
- Proof of legal authorization to work in American Samoa. Individuals must provide proof of identity and citizenship (U.S. citizen, U.S. national or qualified alien) and proof that they are legally authorized to work in AS. If an individual is paid DUA pending verification of alien status and/or work authorization and it is later discovered that the individual is not a qualified alien and/or is not authorized to work, any DUA paid will be overpaid and AS DHR-ETD will also determine whether or not the individual made a false statement to obtain DUA. DUA payments are not subject to any waiver provisions and therefore any overpayments established must be repaid in full.
Individuals who are determined eligible for DUA must file weekly claim certifications (to demonstrate their continued eligibility). Individuals who file a DUA claim will receive information about their benefit rights and responsibilities. To remain eligible for DUA, individuals must be able to work and be available for work, unless injured as a direct result of the disaster. Continued eligibility is determined on a week-by-week basis.
Individuals who willfully conceal material facts or knowingly making a false statement to obtain DUA to which they are entitled will be required to repay all benefits fraudulently collected and may be subject to prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1001.
The Department of Human Resources Employment Training Division administers the federal disaster-benefits program in American Samoa for the U.S Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Department of Human Resources Workforce Investment Agency Division offers reemployment services, including testing, counseling and job placement. For more information, call The Department of Human Resources at 684-633-4485, and ask for Michelle Peko or Grace Uiagalelei.
AS DHR-ETD is an equal opportunity employer/program and auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.