Disaster unemployment assistance available to those affected by tornado

Individuals who have become unemployed as a direct result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that began in Faulkner County on April 27, 2014, may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), according to Artee Williams, director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

At the request of Governor Mike Beebe, President Barrack Obama on April 29, 2014, declared Faulkner County as a federal disaster area authorized for DUA. Individuals who have temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits (such as self- employed individuals) may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, which provides unemployment benefits under Presidential Disaster Declaration FEMA 4174-DR.

The first possible week of compensation is week ending May 10, 2014, and the last possible week of compensation is week ending November 1, 2014.

DUA claims must be filed by June 2, 2014, at DWS offices from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Hours will be extended as needed. DWS offices will also provide re-employment assistance, where appropriate. Claims filed after the deadline will be considered untimely and benefits denied, unless the individual provides good cause for filing after that date.

To be eligible for benefits, individuals must have worked or have been scheduled to work in the Faulkner County disaster area, but because of the disaster, they no longer have a job, a place to work in the area or could not get to their place of work because of disaster damage.

They also may qualify if they have been prevented from working because of an injury or illness resulting from the disaster, or if they have become the head of household and need employment because the head of the household died as a result of the disaster.

This benefit also may be available to self-employed individuals who have lost all or part of their livelihood as a result of the disaster.

Each claim is considered individually; therefore, individuals who believe they may be eligible should bring their government issued photo identification, Social Security card, the name and address of their last place of employment, and documents verifying income, such as income tax statements, recent pay stubs, W-2 forms or 2013 federal income tax forms (Schedule SE and Schedule C or Schedule F) for self-employed individuals.

"For those who have lost all documentation, we ask that they go to the revenue department and obtain a valid ID," said Beck Heflin, director of communications for the Department of Workforce Services. "Our staff will then assist them in any way we can to obtain the rest of the necessary documentation."

The Vilonia Revenue Office will be open Monday — Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. beginning Monday to assist individuals in obtaining photo ID. The Vilonia Revenue Office is located at 118 Bise Drive in Vilonia. The office can be reached at (501) 796-8211.

All DUA applicants must provide documentation within 21 days from the day the claim is filed indicating an employment record at the time of the disaster or verification that the applicant was scheduled to work.

DWS officials understand that because of property losses some claimants may not have the necessary 2013 income information. Although some delays may result without this information, DWS staff will make every effort to work with DUA claimants to confirm their income information and expedite the claims taking procedure.

DUA claims may be filed at the DUA office in Conway at 1500 N. Museum Road, Suite 111. The office can be reached at (501) 730-9894.

A temporary site has been established in Vilonia at Beryl Baptist Church at 873 Main Street.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)