Disaster declaration offers unemployment aid

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chilton County residents, along with citizens of more than half of Alabama’s 67 counties, that became unemployed as a direct result of last week’s tornado outbreak may qualify for unemployment assistance.

Chilton County, along with Coosa, Pickens, Shelby and Talladega counties, were added to the federal disaster declaration earlier this week. The total number of counties now under the declaration stands at 36.

Counties previously designated are Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Choctaw, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, St. Clair, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, and Winston.

People who live or worked in these counties and become unemployed due to the storms, flooding, tornadoes and straight-line winds since April 15 may be eligible for assistance under the Disaster Unemployment (DUA) program.

“In most cases, people affected by these storms will be able to receive regular unemployment compensation,” said Tom Surtees, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. “However, there are circumstances where regular unemployment compensation is not applicable, and that’s where Disaster Unemployment Assistance comes in. If you believe you are entitled to these benefits, I urge you to file a claim to see if you are eligible.”

People who may be eligible for assistance include the following: individuals who no longer have a job, are unable to reach the place of employment, or were scheduled to start work in the major disaster area and the job no longer exists; those who became the breadwinner or major support of the family because the head of household died, or those who cannot work because of an injury incurred during the major disaster. All of the previously described circumstances must be as a direct result of the storms. Self-employed individuals must provide a copy of their 2010 income tax records.

Claims can be filed through DIR’s website at www.dir.alabama.gov or by calling 1-866-234-5382. The deadline to file a DUA claim is June 1, 2011, for Chilton, Coosa, Pickens, Shelby and Talladega counties.