NC Disaster Assistance Manual: Section 6 – Employer/Employee Issues
Thank you to Winston & Strawn LLP for updating the below content with North Carolina information.
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6.1 – Overview
This section provides practical advice for assisting persons who have temporarily or permanently lost employment or are facing other employment-related issues as a result of a disaster.
6.2 – Most Common Issues/Questions
What unemployment benefits are available for persons whose employment is interrupted or lost due to a disaster?
Can health benefits be continued after an employment loss has occurred?
Can my employer fire me because a natural disaster has occurred?
What obligations does my employer have to pay my salary if I cannot work because of the disaster?
Is leave available if I or a family member becomes ill as a result of the disaster or its aftermath?
How do I get my paycheck?
6.3 – Summary of the Law
6.3.1 – Unemployment Compensation
A person may be entitled to receive unemployment compensation benefits if he or she becomes unemployed as a result of a natural or other disaster (e.g., because his or her employer’s business was closed or destroyed, the person’s employment was terminated, his or her house or car was destroyed, or the person is no longer able to get to work). If a disaster victim is not eligible for unemployment compensation, he or she may be entitled to federal disaster unemployment assistance.
To be eligible for unemployment compensation under the North Carolina Employment Security Law (Chapter 96 of the North Carolina General Statutes), an individual must meet all of the following qualifying requirements: (1) The individual must have earned sufficient wages to qualify for benefits in the “base period,” which consists of the four consecutive completed calendar quarters, prescribed by the Employment Security Commission, in the five completed calendar quarters before the claim is filed; (2) the individual must be unemployed or partially unemployed through no fault of his or her own and must not have voluntarily terminated employment; (3) the individual must be able and available to work, and actively seeking work; and (4) the individual must register for work with his or her resident state’s job service office. SeeEligibility Criteria.
6.3.2 – Continuation of Group Health Coverage
Due to a disaster, some individuals may lose their employer-provided group health plan coverage as a result of either a voluntary or an involuntary termination or a reduction in work hours that would render the employee unable to continue his or her coverage as an active employee. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”), an employer may be required to extend continuation coverage to such an individual and his or her dependents (“Qualified Beneficiaries”) previously covered under the employer’s group health plan (The death of the covered employee would also be a qualifying event that would trigger an employer’s obligations COBRA.(26 U.S.C. § 4980B(f)(3)). COBRA coverage is not available if an employee is terminated for gross misconduct.
If applicable, COBRA requires an employer to extend to Qualified Beneficiaries the right to continue their health coverage under the same group health plan under which the beneficiaries were covered prior to their coverage loss (26 U.S.C. § 4980B(f)(2)(A)). If the employer no longer offers the same health plan under which the Qualified Beneficiary was covered, the Qualified Beneficiary may still be able to elect coverage under another group health plan maintained by the employer. Group health plans include, but are not limited to, medical, dental, and vision plans (See 26 C.F.R. § 54.4980B-2, Q&A-1). Each individual Qualified Beneficiary may make a separate election with respect to coverage (See id. at §54.4980B-6, Q&A-6). For example, if an employee previously covered a spouse and a dependent child through family coverage under an employer-provided group health plan, either the spouse or the dependent child could separately elect COBRA continuation coverage under a single, rather than family, plan while the remaining members of the family waived coverage.
Generally, a Qualified Beneficiary may continue his or her coverage for up to 18 months (26 U.S.C. § 4980B(f)(2)(B)(i)). However, COBRA coverage can be very costly. An employer may charge up to 102 % of the actual cost of providing the coverage to a similarly situated active employee (not just the contribution for coverage that the employee paid while actively employed) (Id. at § 4980B(f)(2)(C)). COBRA continuation coverage is not available in all situations. For example, COBRA generally only applies to private sector employers with at least 20 employees, governmental employers, and certain employee organizations (26 U.S.C. § 4980B(d); 26 C.F.R. § 54.4980B-2, Q&A-4). Further, an employer is not required to offer COBRA coverage if it ceases providing any group health plan to its active employees (26 U.S.C. § 4980B(f)(2)(B)(ii)). For example, if an employer closes operations entirely and no longer offers any group health plans, a Qualified Beneficiary has no rights under COBRA to continuation coverage. An individual who is eligible for COBRA coverage and wishes to elect COBRA coverage may want to contact the employer providing the group health plan coverage.
Employers are generally required to send a notice regarding COBRA rights to the last known mailing address of the Qualified Beneficiary. Therefore, those who have been dislocated by a disaster may not promptly receive notice from their employers regarding COBRA continuation coverage. Qualified Beneficiaries only have 60 days in which to elect COBRA coverage from the later of the date of the COBRA notice or the loss of coverage (Id. at § 4980B(f)(5)). Please note, the Department of Labor announced special rules to apply during the national emergency associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. For further information on COBRA in general, see “An Employee’s Guide to Health Benefits Under COBRA,” available at:
Please note, if COBRA is not applicable, state continuation coverage rules may apply. Under North Carolina’s continuation laws, employees (and dependents covered by the employer’s group health plan) are entitled to continue coverage under their employer’s group health plan for 18 months when they terminate employment or lose their eligibility under the plan. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-53-1 et seq.). Continuation coverage is available for any employee or covered individual who has been continuously insured for 3 consecutive months (immediately preceding the date of termination from the employer’s group policy) under that same employer’s group policy, or under a combination of the employer’s group policy and any other group policy that the employer’s policy replaced. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-53-10). Continuation coverage is not available to anyone who is or could be covered by any similar employer or governmental plan for hospital, surgical, or medical coverage within 31 days immediately following the date of termination, regardless of whether or not the new coverage is elected. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-53-15).
6.3.3 – Employer’s Wage Payment Obligations
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., establishes federal minimum wage and overtime requirements, as well as child labor restrictions. Employees who are subject to the minimum wage requirements are referred to as “non-exempt” (i.e., they are not exempt from the requirements). Some employees, based on the duties they perform and how they are paid, are exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements. In most cases, non-exempt employees are paid by the hour and exempt employees are paid a salary.
Sometimes, an employer is unable to provide work for employees who are otherwise scheduled to work, including in cases of a major disaster. When non-exempt employees are unable to work due to a disaster, they are not entitled to pay under the FLSA for the time they would have otherwise worked. (SeeDOL Fact Sheet #72).
Salaried-exempt employees, however, are entitled to their full weekly salary if the business shuts down for less than a full workweek, or if the employer does not have work available for the employee for the full workweek. (29 C.F.R. § 541.602). If an employer makes improper deductions from pay for time not worked, the employee’s exempt status may be lost. (SeeDOL Fact Sheet #70, Question #4). When the business is open and work is available, deductions from an exempt employee’s salary may be made if the employee is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons. (29 C.F.R. § 541.602). In addition, a full day’s absence may be deducted if it occurred because of sickness or disability, as long as the deductions are made pursuant to a bona fide sick or disability leave plan, policy, or practice. (29 C.F.R. § 541.602). For further information, see “Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” available at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/minwagep.pdf.
The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act permits employers to pay employees on a regular pay day. Pay periods may be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly. Wages based upon bonuses, commissions, or other forms of calculation may be paid as infrequently as annually if prescribed in advance (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-25.6). Employers must notify employees, in writing at least one pay period prior to any changes in promised wages. ( N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-25.13).
The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act does not require a specific form of payment. Therefore, an employer may select any legal form of payment, so long as payment is made in full on the designated payday, subject to authorized deductions and legal withholdings. Acceptable forms of payment include cash, money order, negotiable checks, and direct deposit (13 N.C. Admin. Code 12.0309).
Employees whose employment is discontinued for any reason must be paid all wages due on or before the next regular payday either through the regular pay channels or by trackable mail if requested by the employee in writing. ( N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-25.7). Wages based on bonuses, commissions or other forms of calculation must be paid on the first regular payday after the amount becomes calculable when a separation occurs. Those wages may not be forfeited unless the employee has been notified of the employer’s policy or practice that results in forfeiture (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-25.7).
Under certain circumstances, employees who lose employment as a result of a plant closing or mass layoff are entitled to 60 days advance notice under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2101 et seq. The WARN Act notice requirement applies only to employers with at least 100 employees. The employer must give written notice to the union representative of affected employees (if applicable) and to each affected employee not represented by a union who may reasonably be expected to experience an employment loss. However, when the plant closing or mass layoff is the direct result of a natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake, drought, or storm, the employer is required only to give as much notice as is practicable, even if the notice comes after a disaster. (SeeDOL WARN ACT Natural Disaster Fact Sheet). To comply with the law, the employer may send notice to the employee’s last known address, even if their homes are destroyed. (SeeDOL WARN ACT Natural Disaster Fact Sheet).
6.3.4 – Prohibited Employment Discrimination
North Carolina is an employment-at-will state. Unless an employee is hired under a written contract for a specific term, the employer and the employee are free to terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason, with or without prior notice. Certain state and federal laws, however, prohibit discrimination in hiring, discipline, discharge, and other terms and conditions of employment on the basis of an employee’s race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age, or genetic information and prohibit retaliation for engaging in protected activity (e.g., filing a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing an unlawful employment practice). For further information, see “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law” (available at: https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo-law-poster and Employment Discrimination (available at: https://www.oah.nc.gov/civil-rights-division/employment-discrimination%20).
The 1992 Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (“REDA”) protects employees who in good faith engage in one of the “protected activities,” which includes wage and hour issues, workplace safety rights, mine safety and health, sickle cell and hemoglobin C carriers, genetic testing, National Guard service, juvenile justice system, domestic violence, pesticide exposure, and employees reporting activities of their employers under the Paraphernalia Control Act. For further information, see “Retaliatory Employment Discrimination” (available at: https://www.labor.nc.gov/workplace-rights/retaliatory-employment-discrimination).
In addition, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301-4335, makes it unlawful for an employer to deny initial employment, reemployment, promotion, or any benefit of employment to a person who is obligated to perform in a uniformed service, including the Reserves and National Guard. This includes a call to active duty as a result of a national emergency. For further information, see “Your Rights Under USERRA” available at: http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/userra_private.pdf.
Military service is also protected under North Carolina law (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 127B-11 et seq). Employers may not discriminate against or terminate an employee because of his or her military service. In addition, no member of the North Carolina National Guard may be forced to use or exhaust his or her vacation or other accrued leaves from his or her civilian employment for a period of active service (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 127A-111).
6.3.5 – Unpaid Leave Entitlement
In addition to paid leave that may be available under an employer’s vacation or sick leave policy, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons (See 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.; 29 C.F.R. Part 825). Leave is available in part to cover an employee’s own serious health condition that renders the employee unable to perform the employee’s job, and to care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition. The FMLA does not require employers to give time off to employees to attend to personal matters stemming from natural disasters (e.g., cleaning up a flood- or hurricane-damaged home). However, an employee may qualify for FMLA leave when the employee suffers a physical or mental illness or injury that was caused by a natural disaster or has to take care of a family member with a physical or mental illness or injury for a reason connected to the natural disaster. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to starting leave, and if their employer has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius. The FMLA permits employees to take leave on an intermittent basis or to work a reduced schedule if a healthcare provider certifies that it is medically necessary to take leave in such a manner. For the duration of FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s health coverage under any group health plan.
Pursuant to the statute, substitution of accrued paid leave is allowed (29 U.S.C. § 2612(d)(2)). Employees may take, or employers may require employees to use accrued paid vacation, personal, family, or sick leave concurrently with FMLA. Use of paid leave time does not extend the maximum period of job-protected leave (generally 12 weeks). In addition, an employee’s ability to substitute accrued paid leave for unpaid leave time is determined by the terms and conditions of the employer’s normal leave policy. For example, if a policy requires that vacation be taken in full day increments, an employer can deny substitution of the paid leave time for an employee’s one-half day of FMLA leave. Similarly, if sick time can only be used for the employee’s own illness, substitution could be denied to care for a child with a serious health condition. If an employee does not comply with the requirements of the employer’s policy or is otherwise not eligible for paid leave, the employee may still be entitled to take unpaid FMLA leave. For more information, visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla.
6.4 – Regulatory Agency Directives
The U.S. Department of Labor in coordination with FEMA provides funds to state unemployment insurance agencies for payment of Disaster Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”) benefits. Accordingly, the North Carolina Division of Employment Security (“DES”) administers DUA benefits as a result of major disasters declared by the President to individuals whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted due to the disaster. In the event of a disaster, DES publishes announcements about the availability of DUA benefits. Unemployed disaster victims who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance (“UI”) should apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible since there are deadlines as well as waiting periods for receipt of benefits. For additional information regarding DUA benefits, visit https://des.nc.gov/need-help/faqs/disaster-unemployment-assistance-dua-faqs.
6.5 – Frequently Asked Questions
Q 6.1 – What is unemployment insurance?
Unemployment insurance (UI) is a program designed to provide temporary financial assistance to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. UI benefits are paid as a matter of past employment and legal entitlement, and not on the basis of need.
Q 6.2 – How do I qualify for unemployment insurance benefits?
You must be a North Carolina resident and meet all of the following requirements to qualify for benefits:
– must have earned enough wages in your base period. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you filed your claim,
– must be unemployed or partially unemployed through no fault of your own,
– must be able and available to work, and actively seeking work, and
– must register for work with the state’s job service office, NC Works Online. See NC Commerce: Unemployment Requirements
If you are temporarily laid off due to decreased workload but remain employed, your employer may file a claim on your behalf. Work search requirements may be waived in such cases.
Q 6.3 – What is Disaster Unemployment Assistance, or DUA?
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster as declared by the President of the United States, and are not eligible for regular UI benefits under any state or federal law program (e.g., self-employed individuals or individuals unavailable to work due to an injury that is the direct result of the disaster). See DOL: Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). While DUA is a federal program, it is administered by states as agents of the federal government (42 U.S.C. § 5177).
Q 6.4 – How do I qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance?
DUA may be available to certain unemployed or self-employed individuals who:
– Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for unemployment benefits;
– Are self-employed individuals or small business owners who lost income due to the disaster;
– No longer have a job or place to work;
– Are prevented from working due to an injury caused by the disaster;
– Are unable to reach their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster.
– Were to commence employment or self-employment but were prevented from doing so by the disaster; or
– Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the death of the head of the household, as a result of the disaster. See DisasterAssistance.gov.
Q 6.5 – How do I file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)?
To file a claim for UI or DUAe, you must file for regular benefits before filing for DUA. You may file for regular unemployment benefits online at des.nc.gov. Click on “Create an Online Account” on the DES homepage to establish a secure DES account and then Sign In to begin your application for unemployment insurance. See Filing Your Unemployment Application.
If you do not have access to a computer, there are computers available for your use at your local NCWorks Career Center. A claim may also be filed by calling the Customer Call Center at 1-888-737-0259. For the fastest response, you should file your claim online or by phone. See Filing Your Unemployment Application.
To apply for DUA, you should apply for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI). This will take you through the disaster-related claim filing process. If you have difficulty filing online, you may contact the DUA Hotline at 1-866-847-7209. Do not use the DES Mobile App to file your initial regular UI or DUA claim. See Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) FAQs.
To apply for UI benefits, claimants should have the following information ready and available:
– Your Social Security number
– Details from your most recent employer about separation, vacation or severance pay you received, will receive, or are entitled to receive
– Details regarding any retirement pay (gross monthly amount of pay along with proof)
– Your bank routing number and account number if you would like unemployment payments directly deposited into your bank account. If you do not select direct deposit, payment will be placed on a DES issued debit card.
– Your work history for the past two years (employer name as it appears on your check stub, employer’s payroll and physical addresses, telephone number, employment dates, rate of pay and reason for separation from each employer).
– For non-citizens, your Alien number and expiration date from your Employment Authorization Document.
– For former federal employees, your SF-50 form, SF-8 form, pay stub(s) or W-2 (if you worked in federal employment within the past two years). If this information is unavailable, you may provide it later.
For former military personnel, your DD214, Member 4 Copy. If your DD214 is unavailable, you may provide it later.
SeeBefore You Apply.
To apply for DUA benefits, claimants should have the following information ready and available:
– Mailing address and zip code;
– Your county of residence;
– Your county of employment;
See Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) FAQs.
If these records were lost in the disaster, you should apply anyway and inform DES of the circumstances at the time you apply.
To receive DUA benefits, you must apply for DUA within 30 days after the date of the DES announcement that your county is covered by the Federal Disaster Declaration. A list of counties and eligible dates can be found on the DES website. See Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) FAQs. All documentation required to substantiate wages must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed. Failure to submit the required documentation within the 21-day time period may result in denial of eligibility for DUA. See https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/docs/factsheet/DUA_FactSheet.pdf.
Q. 6.6 – How do I get proof of prior wages or earnings?
To obtain proof from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of prior income/earnings, request a transcript online or complete IRS Form 4506-T and send to the IRS. Generally, there is a $50 fee for requesting each copy of a tax return. If your main home, principal place of business, or tax records are located in a federally declared disaster area, the fee will be waived if the name of the disaster (for example, “NORTH CAROLINA HURRICANE FLORENCE”) is written in red letters across the top of the forms. Fax or mail the form to the appropriate IRS Campus found in the instructions on the form. For additional assistance from the IRS, call the IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline at 1-866-562-5227.
Q 6.7 – Are UI benefits taxable?
Any UI benefits you receive are taxable income. You may elect to have the Employment Security Commission withhold a portion of your benefits each week to meet this tax obligation. You will be issued Form 1099-G at the end of January showing the amount of benefits paid to you, as well as any federal income tax withheld at the time the benefits were paid. The amount on the 1099-G is not reduced by any repayments you may have made for overpaid benefits. Therefore, if you repaid any benefits, you must maintain your own record of payment, such as reimbursement receipts or canceled check notices to make adjustments to your taxable income and as documentation for the federal Internal Revenue Service and State Tax Office when you file your tax returns.
Q 6.8 – What DUA benefits are available?
DUA benefits are available to individuals for weeks of unemployment beginning after the date the President makes a disaster declaration and for up to 26 weeks after the major disaster, as long as their unemployment continues to be a result of the major disaster. Periodically, you will be subject to a review to determine continued eligibility. The maximum weekly benefit amount is determined under the provisions of the state law for unemployment insurance in the state where the disaster occurred (https://des.nc.gov/need-help/faqs/disaster-unemployment-assistance-dua-faqs).
Q 6.9 – What help is available to find new employment?
Reemployment services are available through the North Carolina Division of Workforce Solutions at its NC Works Career Centers or by calling 1-919-814-0541. For additional information regarding reemployment services, visit https://www.ncworks.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx?plang=E.
Q 6.10 – What is an employer’s obligation with respect to a group health plan?
In certain situations, COBRA may require an employer to extend COBRA continuation coverage under a group health plan to an employee and his or her spouse and dependent child(ren) following coverage loss due to certain qualifying events. Qualifying events include loss of coverage due to the following events:
– Most voluntary or involuntary terminations,
– A reduction in hours triggering a coverage loss, or
– The death of the covered employee.
If applicable, COBRA generally requires the employer to extend coverage under the group health plan for a period of 18 months. However, the employer may charge the Qualified Beneficiaries up to 102 percent of the cost of providing coverage under the group health plan to a similarly situated active employee.
COBRA coverage is not required in all cases. Certain employers, including small employers, may be exempt from COBRA. Further, if an employer terminates all group health plans for active employees, the employer no longer has to extend COBRA coverage to any Qualified Beneficiaries. For more detailed information, visit: https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/publications/an-employees-guide-to-health-benefits-under-cobra.pdf.
Q 6.11 – If the office must close temporarily, are there alternatives to a layoff?
In some circumstances, it may make sense for an employer to place its employees on unpaid administrative leave status while the office regroups. If the employer’s benefits plans permit continuation of coverage during such leave, employees may be able to maintain coverage. Employers should check the applicable plan documents before making this decision.
Q 6.12 – Can my employment be terminated without notice or cause?
Unless you have a written agreement (contract) for employment for a specified period of time, your employment is considered at-will and can be terminated by you or your employer at any time, for any reason, with or without notice.
Q 6.13 – Are there any legal restrictions against firing, suspending or disciplining employees?
Various state and federal laws prohibit discrimination in hiring, discipline, discharge, and other terms and conditions of employment on the basis of an employee’s race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age or genetic information.
The law also grants certain rights to, and prohibits discrimination against, a person who is obligated to perform in a uniformed service, including the Reserves and National Guard. This includes a call to active duty or an order to remain on active duty as a result of a national emergency.
Q 6.14 – Am I entitled to take leave to deal with my own or a family member’s serious health problem?
Your employer may have a sick leave or vacation policy that entitles you to a period of paid leave. In addition, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. The FMLA applies to employers with at least 50 employees. To be eligible, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (which need not be consecutive), and for 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the start of your leave. You can take leave for (among other things) a serious health condition that prevents you from performing your job, or to care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition. You can continue your existing group health coverage and are entitled to reinstatement at the end of the leave. You will need to let your employer know that you or a family member has a serious health condition for which you require leave. You may also be required to complete an appropriate certification to establish your (or your family member’s) need for leave.
Q 6.15 – I had to evacuate and need to get my paycheck. What do I do?
If your wages are not direct deposited in your bank account, make sure your employer has your current address. If you want to have someone receive or pick up your paycheck on your behalf, your employer may need your written authorization to send or give the paycheck to that person.
Q 6.16 – My employment has been terminated. When will I get my final paycheck?
If your employer has discharged you, you must be paid on or before the next regular payday. after the date of your discharge either through the regular pay channels or by trackable mail if requested by you in writing. If any portion of your wages cannot be calculated by that date (e.g., bonus, commissions), you must be paid those wages on the first regular payday after the amount becomes calculable.
Source: This question and answer section utilizes information provided by the North Carolina Department of Labor at http://www.labor.nc.gov/workplace-rights/employee-rights-regarding-time-worked-and-wages-earned/payment-final-wages.
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Employment & Unemployment Help
Temporary Workers Needed for Recovery Programs
Learn more about temporary jobs with nonprofit and government agencies to rebuild North Carolina.
Governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations impacted by Hurricane Florence also may qualify for employment assistance. Learn more here.
Unemployment Assistance for Workers Impacted by Hurricane Florence
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available for many workers impacted by Hurricane Florence. Individuals and business owners from approved counties (see below) who were affected by Hurricane Florence and are unable to continue working must file an application for benefits within 30 days of the time the assistance was implemented. Click here for details
Workers or business owners meeting the following criteria may be eligible for benefits:
- Individuals who are unemployed due to the disaster, and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits. (If you are eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits, you must first exhaust those benefits before you are eligible for DUA.)
- Self-employed individuals and small business owners who lost income due to the disaster.
- Individuals who were prevented from working due to an injury caused by the disaster.
- Individuals who have become the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death or injury of the previous major supplier of household income.
- Individuals who are unable to reach their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster.
- Individuals who were to begin employment or self-employment but were prevented from doing so by the disaster.
34 Counties approved for Disaster Unemployment Assistance as of Oct. 29: Click HERE for more information on approved locations and filing deadlines
What to do
- Individuals must first file for regular unemployment insurance. If an individual is determined ineligible for regular unemployment insurance, or has exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefits, a DUA claim can then be filed.
- Individuals will need to provide their Social Security number, copies of their most recent federal income tax forms or check stubs, or documentation to support they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed.
- Unemployment assistance is available for up to 26 weeks, beginning with the week starting September 9, 2018, as long as the claimant’s unemployment continues to be as a result of Hurricane Florence.
- Contact the Disaster Unemployment Assistance hotline at 1-866-795-8877 between 8am- 5pm weekdays to apply for benefits. File as soon as possible. For questions, email [email protected] or visit des.nc.gov.
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Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) FAQs
What is Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)?
DUA is a federal program that provides temporary payments to people in a federally declared disaster area whose employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of the disaster.
What makes me eligible for DUA?
Workers or business owners meeting the following criteria may be eligible for benefits:
- You exhausted your UI benefits and are still unemployed as a result of the disaster.
- You are self-employed or a small business owner who is unemployed as a direct result of the disaster.
- You are prevented from working due to an injury caused by the disaster.
- You became the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death of the previous major supplier of household income.
- You are unable to reach your job or self-employment location because you must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster.
- You were unable to begin employment or self-employment due to the disaster.
Can I receive DUA if I am self-employed, a farmer, or a commercial fisherman?
Yes. If you live in or get most of your income from areas affected by the disaster, you may qualify. You MUSTprovide proof of this employment AND income within 21 days of filing your claim. Failure to provide proof within 21 days may adversely affect your potential benefits. Please see examples of acceptable proof listed below.
Can I earn income and still collect DUA?
Yes. When completing your weekly certification, you must report all gross wages earned during that week
How do I apply for DUA?
Apply for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI). This will take you through the disaster-related claim filing process. If you have difficulty filing online, you may contact the DUA Hotline at 866-847-7209. (Do not use the DES Mobile App to file your initial regular UI or DUA claim)
Can I use the DES Mobile App to Apply for DUA?
You cannot use the DES Mobile App to apply for regular unemployment or DUA. If you have already created an account online via the DES website, click here to sign in. If you need to create an account, click here. If you have difficulty filing online you may contact the DUA Hotline at 866.847.7209.
How long do I have to apply for DUA?
Thirty (30) days after the date of the DES announcement that your county is covered by the Federal Disaster Declaration. A list of counties and eligible dates can be found on the DES website.
What information do I need to apply for DUA?
To apply, you should have the following information ready and available:
- The names and addresses of all employers you worked for within the last 18 months, including those in other states.
- Your county of residence
- Your county of employment
- Your mailing address and zip code.
- A telephone number where you can be reached for additional information.
Can I apply for other disaster benefits if I apply for DUA?
Yes. You can apply for FEMA and/or any other state or federal benefits available due to the disaster.
How do I claim weekly DUA benefits?
You must complete a weekly certification each week you are unemployed as a direct result of the disaster. A weekly certification is a series of yes/no questions a claimant must answer each week to be considered for payment for that week. You may file your weekly certification:
If you need assistance with completing your weekly certification, contact the DES Customer Call Center at 888-737-0259.
How long can I collect DUA benefits?
Your entitlement to DUA benefits is considered on a week-to-week basis. DES must determine each week you receive DUA benefits that you are unemployed as a direct result of the disaster. Periodically, you will be subject to a review to determine continued eligibility.
How are DUA benefits calculated?
The DUA weekly benefit amount is computed using your prior year’s reported income.
Do I have to claim each week that I am unemployed in order to get payments?
Yes. Your eligibility for DUA will be determined on a weekly basis. You must claim each week by completing a weekly certification and be unemployed for that week as a direct result of the disaster.
If I qualify or am eligible, how will I get DUA benefits?
Benefits are paid by direct deposit to your personal checking or savings account or by an agency issued debit card.
As an employer, will my account be charged if my worker collects DUA?
No. DUA and/or UI benefits paid as a direct result of a disaster are not charged to your account if your employee collects benefits.
*You must respond to all DES requests to ensure non-charging of your employer account.
Where can I get more information about DUA?
DES will update the agency website (des.nc.gov) when information becomes available. Employers can call the Employer Call Center at 1.866.278.3822 for general information. For additional information regarding disaster-related benefits, visit the benefits.gov website.
If I exhaust UI and am still unemployed due to the disaster, what should I do?
DES will automatically consider you for DUA benefits once you exhaust UI, based upon information you submitted when filing your UI claim. For further assistance or questions:
Contact the DUA Hotline:
Submit a secure message via the DES website (des.nc.gov):
On the DES homepage, click Customer Call Center Online Contact Form (insert link). In the ‘Subject’ dropdown list of the contact form, select ‘Need help filing a Disaster Unemployment Assistance Claim’. Complete all required fields on the page and then click ‘Submit Message’. After submitting the message, a DES Customer Call Center Consultant will contact you to provide assistance.
What are Examples of Acceptable Proof?
Full/Part time Employment
- Recent Pay Stubs
- Copy of Work schedule
- Notice of Employment from the Employer
- Notice of Hire from the Employer
- Copy of Employment Contract
- Federal Tax Return
- Business License
- Recent Bill in the Company’s name
- Work logs showing current business
- Customer Invoices
- Recent Contracts
- Property titles/deeds
- Rental agreement for place of business
- Bank statements in the Company’s name
- Photographic evidence
- Insurance Claims
- Newspaper Articles
- Repair Bills/Estimates
- Notice of Closure from State/Local Government
- Decision to close from the board
- Other documentation showing that a closure was necessary
- Photographic evidence
- Newspaper reports
- Department of Transportation records
- Personal Vehicle repair bill
- Insurance claims
- Records of public transit closure
- Photographic evidence of transportation problems
Injured During the Disaster
- Hospital Records
- Doctor’s Note
- Insurance Claims
Became Head of Household due to Death of the Breadwinner
- Death Certificate
- Previous Year Federal Tax Return
*Proof needed to complete the processing of your claim for disaster-related benefits must be submitted within 21 days of filing.
NC Disaster Assistance Manual: Section 2 – FEMA Assistance
Thank you to Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP with a special thank you to Candace Friel for updating the content.
Back to the Disaster Assistance Manual
2.1 – Overview
When the President of the United States declares a “major disaster” anywhere in the United States or its territories, federal assistance is made available to supplement the efforts and resources of state and local governments and voluntary relief organizations pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended 42 U.S.C. § 5121, et seq.
Individuals, families and businesses may be eligible for federal assistance if they live, own a business, or work in a county declared a Major Disaster Area. Help may also be available to those who have incurred sufficient property damage or loss and do not have insurance or other resources to meet their needs. The most important thing a disaster victim must do to obtain FEMA assistance is to register with FEMA. To apply for Assistance for Individuals and Households, individuals should register with FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-3362 within 60 days of the declaration of the disaster. The FEMA publication entitled “Help after a Disaster – Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program,” which includes information about what type of assistance is available, who is eligible, the process for obtaining assistance, and frequently asked questions, is available online at http://www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster.
However, not everyone who has suffered in a disaster is entitled to FEMA assistance. FEMA has established a policy for preventing duplication of benefits under 44 CFR 206.191. FEMA’s duplication of benefits policy establishes the order in which the major forms of assistance should be provided, in other words, the sequence of delivery. The agency that has the primary responsibility for delivering a certain type of assistance should provide that assistance first and may do so without regard to other agencies with similar assistance that is lower in the sequence. Agencies are not prohibited from disrupting the sequence of delivery when it serves to expedite the recovery of an applicant. However, the agency that disrupts the sequence of delivery must take corrective action.
Delivery Sequence Charts can be found at:
English – https://cerfplus.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FEMA-Assistance-Chart.pdf
Espanol/Spanish – https://www.fema.gov/es or https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/2020-08/fema_help-after-disaster_spanish_trifold.pdf
Chinese – https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/2020-07/fema_help-after-disaster_chinese_trifold.pdf
Here is a more in depth look at each step in the sequence of delivery:
Volunteer Agencies’ Emergency Assistance
Voluntary and emergency relief agencies play a key role when disasters occur. Federal, state-wide, and local volunteer organizations all offer important resources for disaster preparedness and recovery. These include, but are not limited to, the Red Cross, Humane Society, and local churches and civil organizations.
Private Insurance Benefits
Insured applicants must file a claim with their insurance company before receiving federal assistance. They may be eligible to receive disaster assistance if they have insufficient coverage or have items not covered by their insurance policy (notably, this includes flood insurance).
Temporary Housing Assistance
FEMA funds and administers the Temporary Housing program, which is designed to provide disaster applicants with a grant for their housing needs. Housing assistance may include: Lodging expense reimbursement for the cost of short-term lodging such hotel rooms (food, transportation, telephone, separately billed utilities and other services not eligible for reimbursement) or Rental assistance where eligible applications will receive financial assistance to rent a dwelling for the pre-disaster household to live for up to 18 months based on need (FEMA may provide a list of available rental properties as well).
Minimal repair assistance with immediate emergency repairs to live in the residence while permanent repairs are being made (not intended to address all of damages or restore home to pre-disaster condition). Owners can receive up to the IHP cap for repairs.
Owners with destroyed homes can received up to the IHP cap towards the purchase of a new home.
When rental properties are unavailable, FEMA may provide in-kind assistance in form of trailers, manufactured homes or other readily fabricated dwellings for use as temporary housing for up to 18 months subject to recertification of continuing eligibility (applicants receiving in-kind assistance are not eligible for financial assistance); and the application period is generally within 60 days of the disaster, unless extended by FEMA.
Small Business Administration (SBA) and Farmers Home Administration disaster loans
SBA provides low interest, long-term disaster loans for individuals to repair/replace real and personal property for non-farm businesses. If SBA determines that an applicant is ineligible for an SBA loan or if the loan amount is insufficient, SBA refers the applicant to FEMA for additional consideration. Borrowers are required to maintain appropriate hazard and flood insurance, where required. SBA can only approve a loan to an applicant with a reasonable ability to repay the loan.
Other Needs Assistance (ONA)
For a complete overview of the requirements for ONA, please follow the link provided at:
https://www.disasterassistance.gov/get-assistance/forms-of-assistance/4473; see also https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/816. There are two different types of benefits provided through ONA, which are each discussed below. Before that discussion however, there are a few other criteria that must be met universally to qualify for either Dependent or Non-Dependent assistance. These include:
– The county where you live must be declared a major federal disaster area. See list of disaster declarations for North Carolina. For more information click here.
– If you are referred to do so, you must apply for a Small Business administration (SBA) loan, even if you do not own a business. SBA provides disaster loans to individuals and businesses that are able to repay the loans. If your only expenses are disaster-related medical, dental or funeral bills, you do not need to apply for an SBA loan. If you choose not to do so, you might find yourself barred from future recovery programs. If you are denied, you will be referred back to FEMA for consideration for further funding. If you are approved, you do not have to take the money then, but it keeps your options open.
– If you have home, health, flood or car insurance, you must file a claim with your insurance for your losses and keep records of the settlements.
– Due to the rule about duplication, discussed above, you must first use all insurance benefits and any other help available from federal, state and/or local agencies (for example, insurance settlements, disaster loans, and assistance form the Red Cross and Salvation Army).
– You cannot get Other Needs Assistance if you refuse other assistance.
– You must be a US Citizen. Certain qualified legal immigrants may also receive assistance. If you or your spouse are not a US Citizen or qualified legal immigrant but your child is, then you can apply on his or her behalf.
– The two types of Other Needs Assistance, “dependent” and “non-dependent”, have two different sets of factors that contribute to one’s eligibility to Other Needs Assistance benefits.
“Dependent” criteria: only individuals or households whose income is below a certain amount and do not qualify for an SBA loan may be eligible for the below mentioned types of assistance.
Personal Property Assistance: Repairing or replacing essential household items, such a furnishings and appliances, accessibility items for the disabled and specialized tools and protective clothing required by employers
Transportation Assistance: Repairing or replacing vehicles damaged by a disaster and other transportation-related costs
Moving and Storage Assistance: Relocating and storing personal property from the damaged primary residence to prevent further disaster damage, such as ongoing repairs, and returning the property to the primary residence
“Non-Dependent” criteria: Individuals and households may be awarded the following types of assistance regardless of whether they are eligible for an SBA disaster loan.
Funeral Assistance: Providing those who have incurred or will incur eligible funeral expenses due directly or indirectly from a disaster
Medical and Dental Assistance: Assisting with medical or dental expenses caused by a disaster (includes but not limited to: injury, illness, loss of prescription medication or equipment, insurance co-payments)
Child Care Assistance: A one-time payment which covers up to 8 weeks total of child care expenses if the child is age 13 and under (or 14-18 if disabled as defined by law)
Miscellaneous or Other Items Assistance: Reimburse those affected by a disaster for eligible items purchased or rented for the recovery process. An example of an eligible item would be a generator purchased to maintain electricity because of a medical condition (i.e. respirator, etc.)
Those that provide assistance during recovery as well as during immediate emergency response. This includes national and local groups. You can speak to your FEMA representative and sign a Written Consent in order to allow them to liaise with local organizations and communicate your needs so that the local organization may better assist you.
Cora C. Brown Fund
This fund, named after Cora Brown who died in 1977 and bequeathed part of her estate to the federal government to be used solely for human suffering caused by natural disasters, is used for disaster victims who have exhausted all avenues of assistance, but who still have unmet needs. Disaster victims need not apply for this assistance. By applying for disaster assistance, FEMA identifies potential recipients. FEMA uses these funds under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 5201(b) of the Stafford Act and 44 CFR 206.181.
Other forms of individual assistance programs include:
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) – DUA provides unemployment benefits and re-employment services to people who are otherwise ineligible for regular state unemployment compensation and who have become unemployed because of major disasters. Benefits begin with the date the individual was unemployed due to the disaster incident and can extend up to 26 weeks after the Presidential declaration date. These benefits are made available to individuals not covered by other unemployment compensation programs, such as the self-employed, farmers, migrant and seasonal workers, and those who have insufficient quarters to qualify for other unemployment compensation. DUA is funded 100% by FEMA. All unemployed individuals in North Carolina must first apply to regular State Unemployment Insurance and if found ineligible for those benefits may then apply for DUA. For program requirements and instructions on how to apply for DUA, see the links below or call 1-866-795-8877:
– https://des.nc.gov/des (under Online Account Access, create an online account)
Crisis Counseling – Funds are provided by FEMA as a grant to state and local mental health agencies to provide crisis counseling to help relieve grieving, stress, or mental health problems resulting from the disaster or its aftermath.
SAMHSA Disaster Helpline –
2.2 – Frequently Asked Questions
2.2.1 – Applying for FEMA Assistance
Q 2.1 – How do I apply for disaster help?
If you live in a disaster area declared by the President and need disaster help, call 1-800-621-3362 (hearing/speech impaired ONLY—call TTY: 1-800-462-7585) or apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov. Click “Apply Online” and the screens will prompt you through the process. If you get a busy signal when you call the 800 number, try calling in the evening after 10:00 p.m. or on weekends when fewer people are trying to call. You may also apply on your smart phone or mobile device (https://www.fema.gov/about/news-multimedia/mobile-app-text-messages).
When you apply, you should have a pen and paper available to write down important phone contacts. You will need your Social Security number, current and pre-disaster address, phone numbers, type of insurance coverage, total household annual income, a routing and account number from your bank if you want to have disaster assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account, and a description of your losses caused by the disaster.
Q 2.2 – What happens after I apply for disaster assistance?
FEMA will mail you a copy of your application and a copy of “Help After a Disaster: Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program” that will answer many of your questions. The Applicant’s Guide is also available online at www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster/. Many language versions are available.
If your home or its contents are damaged and you do not have insurance, an inspector should contact you within 10 to 14 days after you apply to schedule a time to meet you at your damaged home.
If your home or its contents were damaged and you have insurance, you need to work through your insurance claim first and provide FEMA with a decision letter (statement or denial) from your insurance company before FEMA issues an inspection. There is an exception for damages caused by flooding; if you have flood insurance, FEMA will issue an inspection before receiving a copy of your flood insurance decision letter to evaluate your eligibility for temporary living expenses because temporary living expenses are not covered by flood insurance.
About 10 days after the inspection, FEMA will decide if you qualify for assistance. If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will send you a check by mail or deposit it into your bank account. FEMA will also send you a letter describing how you are to use the money (for example: repairs to your home or to rent another house while you make repairs).
If FEMA decides that you do not qualify for a grant, FEMA will send you a letter explaining why you were turned down and give you a chance to appeal the decision. Appeals must be in writing and mailed within 60 days of FEMA’s decision.
If you get a SBA Disaster Loan application in the mail, you must complete and return the application to be considered for a loan as well as certain types of grant assistance. SBA representatives are available at Disaster Recovery Centers to help you with the application. If the SBA finds that you cannot afford a loan, they will automatically refer to you FEMA’s Individual and Household grant program for help (discussed above).
If the SBA approves you for a loan, they will contact you.
If the SBA finds that you cannot afford a loan, FEMA will contact you.
Note to volunteers: Please also refer to answers to Q 2.22 & Q 2.27 below before responding to this question.
Q 2.3 – Two weeks ago, I mailed in the documents FEMA had asked for. When I called the Helpline, the service representative said the documents were not in my file. What should I do?
Please be sure to keep your phone number and mailing address current in FEMA’s records. FEMA has implemented new technology to help inform you that FEMA has received your documents. You will be contacted via a recorded message informing you that FEMA has received your documents. You can also check the status of your application by creating an account at , and clicking Check Your Status.
Please remember that, when you mail or fax documents to FEMA, it is very important to include your name, your Social Security number, the disaster number, and your registration ID number on all paperwork. This will speed handling and assure that the documents are placed in the correct file. The numbers can be found on the cover page that is included with all FEMA correspondence in the upper left hand corner of any letter FEMA sends you.
Q 2.4 – The letter from FEMA said I had no damages or insufficient damages, but my home was damaged and some of my personal property was damaged too. What do I do?
You may appeal any decision within 60 days of the decision letter. When you appeal a decision, you are asking FEMA to review your case again. Appeals may relate to your eligibility, the amount or type of help you received, late applications or requests to return money. You will not automatically get another inspection just because you appeal. FEMA has up to 90 days to issue a decision on the appeal. For additional information on the appeal process, refer to the Applicant’s Guide at:
Law Help Interactive provides a template for FEMA appeals that is good for all states.
Q 2.5 – How long does it take to get help from FEMA?
If you have damage to your home or its contents and you are uninsured or you have suffered damage due to a flood, a FEMA inspector will contact you within 10 to 14 days of applying to set up an appointment to assess your disaster damages. Typically, within about 10 days after the inspection, if FEMA determines that you qualify for help, you will receive a direct deposit into your bank account or a check in the mail.
Q 2.6 – I applied for disaster assistance two weeks ago and haven’t heard from anyone. I keep calling the 1-800-621-3362 number, but I get a busy signal. Is there another way to follow up on my claim?
If you have access to the internet, you may want to consider checking the status of your case online. You can also check the status of your case by creating an account to track your progress at www.DisasterAssistance.gov/. Another option is to visit a Disaster Recovery Center in your area if there is one.
Q 2.7 – I received my check for rental assistance, but there are no places to rent.
If you are eligible for housing assistance from FEMA, but are unable to find a rental house or apartment within a reasonable commuting distance of your damaged home, please contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or visit a nearby Disaster Recovery Center. FEMA will evaluate your situation and, if appropriate, may authorize a travel trailer or mobile home.
The FEMA Housing Portal has been deactivated, however for free, timely updates, survivors can search online websites using key words such as “apartment rentals”, “housing rentals”, or “available housing” to find available temporary and long-term housing in their geographic area.
Q 2.8 – I didn’t receive enough money from FEMA to meet all my needs. What do I do now?
Most disaster aid programs are intended to meet only essential needs and are not intended to cover all your losses. Also, some people qualify for assistance from more than one program and may receive additional help from another agency. For example, the Small Business Administration is a very important source of funding for repair and replacement of real and personal property. If you received a loan application packet from the SBA, please complete and return the application as soon as possible. No work can begin on the loan until you submit your application. If you do not agree with FEMA’s decision, you may appeal the decision. To file an appeal, follow the appeals process that is explained in your letter from FEMA.
Q 2.9 – I know of others in my neighborhood, city or state who received help from FEMA, however I was told I have insufficient damages. Does FEMA use the same criteria when considering damages for everyone?
FEMA reviews each applicant’s case individually and applies the same eligibility criteria. If you were determined to be ineligible because of insufficient damages and you feel this finding is incorrect, you have a right to file an appeal.
Q 2.10 – I have a new telephone number. How do I update my application?
Some information, such as current phone number, mailing address, or insurance policy number, can be updated online at the link below. To update other file information you will need to call the FEMA Disaster Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (hearing/speech impaired ONLY—call TTY: 1-800-462-7585), visit a Disaster Recovery Center, or write to FEMA at the address provided on any correspondence you have received.
To update your information online, go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov/, click “Check Status”, and log into your online account or create an account.
Q 2.11 – What are FEMA’s citizenship/immigration requirements?
You must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or a qualified alien in order to be eligible for FEMA cash assistance programs: Individuals and Households Program Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance. However, undocumented individuals can apply on behalf of their minor child who is a citizen and has a Social Security number. FEMA can provide information on how to obtain a Social Security number for a minor child. The minor child must live with the parent/guardian applying on his/her behalf.
The undocumented individual does not have to be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or a qualified alien for crisis counseling, disaster legal services, or other short-term, non-cash emergency assistance. Voluntary agencies provide help regardless of immigration status.
Q 2.12 – Are aliens eligible for disaster assistance? Who is eligible for disaster assistance?
To be eligible for cash assistance from FEMA you must be a qualified alien. A qualified alien generally includes individuals who are lawful permanent residents (possessing an alien registration receipt card) or those with legal status due to asylum, refugee, parole (admission into the U.S. for humanitarian purposes), withholding of deportation, or domestic violence. Applicants should consult an immigration expert concerning whether or not their immigration status falls within the qualified alien category.
2.2.2 – Disaster Recovery Centers
Q 2.13 – What is a Disaster Recovery Center and what services do they provide?
A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is a readily accessible facility or mobile office where applicants may go for information about FEMA or other disaster assistance programs, or for questions related to their case. NOTE: You can search for a DRC at the following link www.egateway.fema.gov/ESF6/DRCLocator/, or register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or call 1-800-621-3362 (hearing/speech impaired ONLY-Call TTY: 1-800-462-7585).
Q 2.14 – What are some of the services that a DRC can provide?
A DRC may provide:
– Guidance regarding disaster recovery
– Clarification of any written correspondence received
– Housing Assistance and Rental Resource information
– Answers to questions, resolutions to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
– Status of applications being processed by FEMA
– SBA program information if there is a SBA representative at the Disaster Recovery Center site.
2.2.3 – Employment Issues
Q 2.15 – I lost my job because of the disaster and am unable to make my mortgage (or rent) payments. Will FEMA make payments until I can return to work?
No. FEMA is not authorized to make such payments. If you lost work because of the disaster, you may qualify under the State of North Carolina’s Unemployment Insurance or, if that is unavailable, for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). See the DUA section or contact the local office of your State’s Employment Commission for information about DUA. The DUA program covers most people affected by a disaster, including many who do not normally qualify for regular unemployment aid. Also, be sure to speak to your lender or landlord and explain your circumstances. Special arrangements can often be made.
Q 2.16 – I have not been able to work since the disaster hit. My employer says that I still have a job, but I am not drawing a paycheck. Does FEMA pay for lost wages?
If you lost work because of the disaster you may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). See the DUA section above or contact the local office of your State’s Employment Commission for information about DUA.
North Carolina Division of Employment Security may accept applications for Disaster Unemployment (DUA) as a result of a Presidential Disaster Declaration for workers who lost their jobs and self-employment individuals who have been unable to work due to a disaster.
Please refer to www.fema.gov/ for the most up to date information for this or a future federal disaster in your area.
Please call 1-866-795-8877, toll free, with any questions regarding your DUA Claim and visit https://des.nc.gov/des to get started on your application.
2.2.4 – Farm & Agricultural Damages
Q 2.17 – I had damages to my farm or ranch. Can FEMA help me?
If you sustained damages to your home or personal property, you should apply with FEMA for assistance. If you had damages to your crops, livestock, farm equipment, barns, dairy, or something similar, you should contact your local Farm Services Agency office to inquire about the USDA’s disaster assistance program. The North Carolina Farm Service Agency is available at: https://www.fsa.usda.govstate-offices/North Carolina/.
FEMA does not offer grant assistance to businesses and farmers, but does act as a referral agency. FEMA may also maintain a list of additional referral resources for business owners and farmers that can be access at www.FEMA.gov/disasters/ and selecting your state, or by calling the FEMA Helpline (1-800-621-3362). Additional information is available at this link.
2.2.5 – Inspections
Q 2.18 – The inspector told me I was going to get money from FEMA. However, I got a letter from FEMA stating that I was not eligible. Which is correct?
The letter is correct. The inspectors are FEMA contractors and are not authorized to comment on eligibility matters. Inspectors file your inspection report, but do not determine your eligibility.
Q 2.19 – What will FEMA accept as proof that I occupied my home?
There are several documents that may be used to prove occupancy. They include but are not limited to: a mortgage statement or a lease for the damaged dwelling; a utility bill for the damaged dwelling you are occupying; a merchant’s statement sent to the damaged dwelling; an employer’s pay statement sent to the damaged dwelling; or a current driver’s license showing the address of the damaged dwelling.
Q 2.20 – What will FEMA accept as proof that I own my home?
There are several documents that may be used to prove ownership. They include but are not limited to: the deed; deed of trust; mortgage payment book or other mortgage documents; real property insurance policy; tax receipts; property tax bill; or documentation showing that the applicant was responsible for maintenance of the home. There are three ways to be treated as an owner-occupant for FEMA benefits. Option one is to demonstrate legal ownership. Option two allows people who do NOT hold formal title, pay no rent, but who are responsible for the payment of taxes or maintenance of the residence, to prove ownership. Option three is for people with lifetime occupancy rights with formal title vested in another individual (also known as a life estate). See 44 CFR 206.111, Owner-Occupied defined.
Q 2.21 – My Inspector called me and I missed the call. How do I contact the inspector?
The FEMA inspectors are out on inspections most days and cannot be reached while they are inspecting a home. You should wait for the FEMA inspector to call you again. The FEMA inspectors will try to call you three times to arrange an appointment to inspect your property. Inspectors will call your current phone contact number and the alternate if you provided one. If any of your contact information has changed, call the Helpline to update the information. The inspector may leave a notice at your damaged home with contact information if they cannot reach you by phone.
2.2.6 – Insurance
Q 2.22 – I have insurance and filed a claim with my insurance agent, but I don’t have a place to live. Is there any help for me?
FEMA cannot duplicate assistance from your insurance company. If you still have serious unmet needs after receiving your insurance settlement, FEMA may be able to provide assistance. If you are unable to locate a place to rent, you can visit a local Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) or call FEMA’s Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 to get the list of rental resources in your area.
Note to volunteers: Please also refer to answers to Q 2.2 above & 2.27 below before responding to this question.
Q 2.23 – I have received a settlement from my insurance company and it is not enough to cover my losses. What should I do now?
FEMA recommends the following: Read over your settlement documents carefully and be sure you understand your policy. If you believe a mistake has been made, contact your insurance agent. If you are still not satisfied, your agent can tell you how to contest the settlement. Next, call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. FEMA, SBA and other agencies may be able to help cover those losses that are uninsured or underinsured, and otherwise eligible.
Q 2.24 – Are insurance deductibles covered under FEMA’s programs?
FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles. If your insurance settlement does not meet your disaster-related needs you may be eligible for assistance from FEMA or the SBA. There can be no duplication of these programs.
Q 2.25 – What documents does FEMA want from my insurance company?
If you apply for help from FEMA because your insurance does not cover all of your disaster-related needs, you need to write a letter to FEMA explaining your situation and include a copy of a settlement or denial letter from your insurance company. FEMA cannot duplicate any insurance coverage. It is important that you get a denial of displaced housing immediately, so that you can ask FEMA to cover your temporary housing. This is not income qualified.
Q 2.26 – Do I have to file a claim with my insurance company since I have to pay a deductible? Why can’t FEMA just help me?
By law, FEMA cannot give you money for items that your insurance covers, (this would be considered a duplication of benefits), but FEMA may be able to help with uncompensated losses or unmet needs not covered by your insurance company. If you have not already contacted your insurance agent to file a claim, please do this as soon as possible. If you do not file a claim with your insurance company, FEMA help may be limited. If your insurance company tells you that your deductible is greater than the amount of damage found, please request a letter from the insurance company, on company letterhead, and send it to FEMA, along with your application for assistance.
Q 2.27 – My insurance company told me it would be weeks before they come to see my damages. Can FEMA help?
If a decision on your insurance settlement has been delayed for more than 30 days after you filed the insurance claim, you may be eligible for an insurance advancement from FEMA. These funds are considered a loan and must be repaid to FEMA once you receive your settlement from your insurance company. You need to write a letter to FEMA, explaining the circumstances of the delay in settlement. Include documentation from the insurance company as proof of filing, or the claim number, the date filed, and an estimate of how long the settlement will take, if you filed by phone. FEMA will send you a Request for Advancement and Signature letter. You must complete and return this letter before FEMA can evaluate your request for assistance.
2.2.7 – Late Registration
Q 2.28 – I had extenuating circumstances that prevented me from applying for assistance before the registration filing deadline. I have damages from the disaster, what can I do?
Apply anyway. You may make a late registration within 60 days after the filing deadline. A letter will be sent stating you are not eligible for consideration for disaster assistance under the Individuals and Households program. The letter will contain information on how you can appeal this decision if you had extenuating circumstances that kept you from filing during the open registration period.
2.2.8 – Returning Funds
Q 2.29 – I need to return a check or pay money back to FEMA. Where do I send it?
Treasury Checks: If you have not cashed the Treasury Check and wish to return it, or if you have been advised in an official letter from FEMA to return the check, mail it to: Department of the Treasury, ATTN: Treasury Check Return, P.O. Box 51318, Philadelphia, PA. 19115. Include your name, social security number, and FEMA application number. (https://www.fema.gov/how-make-payment-fema).
|Online||Go to www.pay.gov and enter "FEMA" in search box.|
|Online Bill Payment||1. Log into your online bank account.|
2. Select Bill Pay option.
3. Choose FEMA and follow instructions on the screen.
4. If applicable, include your Registration ID or other identifying number provided on correspondence.
|Check or Money Order Payable to FEMA – Regular Mail||FEMA|
P.O. Box 6200-16
Portland, OR 97228-6200
|Check or Money Order Payable to FEMA – Overnight Mail, Courier Payments (i.e., UPS, DHS, and FedEx)||US BANK - Government Lockbox|
Attn: DHS-FEMA - 6200-16
17650 NE Sandy Blvd.
Portland, OR 97230
Personal Checks/Cashier’s Checks/Money Orders: If you have already cashed the treasury check and wish to return the funds, or you have been advised in an official letter from FEMA to return the payment, send your personal check (or money order / cashier check), by regular mail to the address listed above. DO NOT send cash. Include a brief statement explaining why you are sending funds to FEMA. Include your name, social security number, and FEMA application number. (https://www.fema.gov/how-make-payment-fema).
State Checks: If you have received a check from your State for your damaged personal property and wish to return the check or have been advised in a letter to return the funds, you will need to mail the check / payment back to the state. The address will be listed on the letter that accompanied your check.
2.2.9 – Road and Bridge Damages
Q 2.30 – My home is not damaged, however a public road and/or bridge has been damaged and is preventing access to my home. Can FEMA help me?
Yes. If damages to a public road or bridge prevents or restricts you from accessing your home, FEMA may be able to provide assistance.
Q 2.31 – If I own the bridge and/or road that is damaged, should I apply for assistance?
Yes, if the private road or bridge damage prevents or restricts access to your home, FEMA may be able to provide assistance. FEMA’s Individual Assistance program could cover the expenses of repairing privately owned access roads if the following criteria are met:
– It is the applicant’s primary residence;
– It is the only access to the property;
– It is impossible to access the home with the damaged infrastructure; or
– The safety of the occupants could be adversely affected.
Private property owners, established homeowners associations, and properties governed by covenant may apply for a low-interest disaster loan directly through the Small Business Administration (SBA) if it is not already covered by a Homeowners Association or Covenant that maintains the bridge or road.
Q 2.32 – What if I share ownership and responsibility for the road and/or bridge with other families, do they all need to register?
All households who share in the responsibility of maintaining the private road and/or bridge should each register individually, particularly if the damages prevent or restrict access to their homes.
2.2.10 – Small Business Administration (SBA)
Q 2.33 – Why am I being referred to the SBA?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is the primary source of federal funds for long-term recovery assistance for disaster victims. SBA loans are not only for businesses. The SBA has low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and non-farm businesses to cover disaster damage to real and personal property. Filling out the application is necessary for most homeowners and renters to be considered for all forms of disaster assistance.
Q 2.34 – Does the SBA make loans to individuals or just businesses?
The SBA can loan money to homeowners, renters, and business owners. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for disaster-related home repairs. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged personal property including vehicles. The SBA may not duplicate benefits from your insurance or FEMA. You may receive an SBA referral when you apply with FEMA. If the applicant does not qualify for a low-interest SBA loan, FEMA may be able to offer them additional disaster grants that help reimburse for lost personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
Q 2.35 – How do I reach the SBA Hotline?
The SBA has loan officers in the Disaster Recovery Centers to provide face-to-face service to disaster victims. You may visit the SBA at any of these locations without an appointment. An SBA representative will be glad to answer questions and help complete your application. To find out where the SBA disaster offices are located, an applicant can call the SBA toll-free at 1-800-659-2955, or email the SBA disaster customer service at: [email protected]
2.2.11 – Travel Trailer & Mobile Home
Q 2.36 – How long can I use the travel trailer/mobile home?
If FEMA provides you with a travel trailer or mobile home you may be able to use it for up to 18 months from the date of declaration if you continue to have a disaster-related housing need.
Q 2.37 – My family is too large for a travel trailer/mobile home. What do we do?
FEMA can provide more than one travel trailer for a family if necessary.
Q 2.38 – Can I have a ramp built for a travel trailer/mobile home?
When FEMA makes its initial assessment of your site to decide if it is possible to place a travel trailer/mobile home at your home, FEMA includes any requirements for ramps. If you did not receive a ramp and require one, call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362. A helpline representative will ensure that someone will get back in contact with you.
Q 2.39 – One of the storms damaged the travel trailer that FEMA provided me. What should I do?
Contact the maintenance number provided when you were leased into your unit. If you do not have the number, call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362. A helpline representative will ensure that someone will get back in contact with you.
2.2.12 – General Questions
Q 2.40 – After the storm, the gas station up the street was charging $10 a gallon for gas. Isn’t that price gouging?
In most cases, the current price at the pump is not due to price gouging. However, the North Carolina Attorney General is prepared to act quickly if gas prices in a Governor-declared disaster area spike beyond what the normal market forces set. If you find price gouging, contact the Attorney General’s office at: www.ncdoj.gov/?s=price+gouging/
Q 2.41 – When funds are provided for disaster assistance in other countries, does this affect the amount of money that is available for my state?
No. If Federal disaster assistance is designated for your area, the disaster relief funds for your state will not be affected by any funds provided for international relief efforts.
Q 2.42 – My vacation/secondary home was damaged. Can I get any help?
Damages to a secondary or vacation home are not eligible under FEMA’s disaster assistance program. However, if you own a secondary home that is rented out or occupied by a family member, you may be eligible for assistance from the Small Business Administration.
Q 2.43 – Will FEMA help me pay my utility bills?
No, FEMA cannot pay utility bills. However, local charitable organizations may be able to help for a short time. We suggest you contact the Red Cross (www.redcross.org) or your local United Way office by calling 2-1-1 (Essential Community Services) for a referral to a local agency that may be able to help.
Q 2.44 – I lost my food because of the power outage; will I be reimbursed for it?
FEMA’s disaster assistance program does not cover food losses. Volunteer organizations in the disaster area may be able to help you with a hot meal or other immediate needs for food. You may also qualify for assistance through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Call 1-866-719-0141 or online at: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/food-and-nutrition-services-food-stamps to find more information on how to apply to North Carolina’s SNAP program.
Q 2.45 – I have trees down all over my yard. Is there any help for debris removal?
Many homeowners’ insurance policies cover debris removal. FEMA does not typically pay for cleaning up debris on private property or in gated communities, but if the debris is keeping you or emergency workers from safely getting to your home, FEMA may be able to provide help. Your local officials can also tell you if there is a pickup schedule for debris in your area.
FEMA may provide assistance for debris removal from private property if it will:
– Eliminate immediate threats to life, public health, and safety; or
– Eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property; or
– Ensure economic recovery of the affected community to the benefit of the community-at-large.
Q 2.46 – I purchased a generator. Will I be reimbursed?
FEMA reviews requests for reimbursement of the cost of a generator on a case-by-case basis and determines if a generator was purchased to overcome a disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse condition. You should register and submit your receipts to see if the cost is covered. In addition to the eligibility requirements for IHP, the applicant must provide proof that the piece of equipment is required for medical purposes (e.g., letter from physician stating that the applicant/occupant has a medical need for the equipment).
For more information on generator reimbursement, click the link below: https://www.fema.gov/faq/reimbursement-damage-generators-chainsaws-vehicles-etc
Q 2.47 – Does disaster help have to be repaid?
A grant from the FEMA Individual and Households Program does not have to be repaid. Loans from the Small Business Administration must be repaid.
Q 2.48 – FEMA told me to send in my receipts. What is the mailing address?
Mail all correspondence to:
FEMA – Individuals and Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055; or
Fax it to: 1-800-827-8112; or
Upload from your personal computer to your online account at: www.disasterassistance.gov/. Click “Check Status”, and log into your account.
Please write your name, last four digits of your Social Security number, disaster number, and registration number on all pages of your documents and keep a copy for your own records.
Q 2.49 – I got a check from FEMA. What can I use the money for?
FEMA sends you money to meet your housing and personal property needs related to the disaster. You will receive a letter from FEMA telling you what the money covers. Be sure to read “Help After a Disaster: Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program,” the booklet included with your letter for additional information. The Applicant’s Guide is also available online at http://www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster.
Q 2.50 – Can I get more information about disaster assistance on the Internet?
Yes. The best place to start is http://www.fema.gov or http://www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster. There you can download a booklet called “Help After a Disaster: Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program.” If you have already applied to FEMA, you should have received the same booklet in the mail. This is a very useful publication that explains how FEMA’s disaster assistance program works; describes additional kinds of help you may qualify for from other Federal, State and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how to best make all these programs work for you.
Q 2.51 I have a lot of damage but I received a letter from FEMA stating I am getting “$0”. Why?
Please read the entire letter which was mailed to you after you applied. This letter will explain the reason(s) for denial. The most common reasons for denial letters are because your application was incomplete, incorrect, or you have insurance to cover the loss or because your property is a secondary or vacation home. If you have received your insurance settlement and it does not cover all of your necessary expenses and serious needs, please contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. If you do not qualify for assistance, the letter will also explain your rights to file an appeal if you disagree with the reason provided by FEMA. If you wish to appeal, you must do so within 60 days of the denial date.
Source: This question and answer section utilizes information provided by FEMA at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/help/faqs.
Back to the Disaster Assistance Manual
Carolina north disaster assistance unemployment
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
Reminder:The 30-day period to apply for DUA ends Oct. 10, 2021. People in Buncombe, Haywood and Transylvania counties who became unemployed as a direct result of Tropical Storm Fred may apply at des.nc.gov.
Update Sept. 10, 2021: Following a federal disaster declaration due to the effects of Tropical Storm Fred, Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits are available in Buncombe, Haywood and Transylvania counties. Individuals in these three counties have 30 days from September 10, 2021, to file an application for Disaster Unemployment Assistance at des.nc.gov. The deadline to apply is October 10, 2021.
DUA is available in these counties for weeks of unemployment beginning Aug. 22, 2021, and may last for up to 29 weeks. Eligibility for DUA is determined weekly, and you must continue to be out of work as a direct result of the disaster each week to receive benefits.
What is Disaster Unemployment Assistance?
If your employment has been lost or interrupted because of a federally declared disaster, you may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
DUA is a federal program that provides temporary payments for people who, as a direct result of a disaster:
- No longer have a job.
- Are unable to reach their place of unemployment.
- Cannot work because of an injury caused by the disaster.
- Were unable to begin employment or self-employment due to the disaster.
- Have become the major supplier of household income due to a disaster-related death of the previous major supplier of household income.
Am I eligible for DUA?
Workers, self-employed individuals or business owners may be eligible for DUA if:
- You lived, worked or were scheduled to work in an area declared a disaster area by the President of the United States;
- You lost employment or had your employment interrupted as a direct result of the disaster; and
- You have exhausted or are not eligible for state unemployment benefits.
Eligibility for DUA is determined weekly. You must continue to be out of work as a direct result of the disaster each week to receive benefits.
What do I need to apply?
- Your Social Security number or your Alien Registration number.
- The names and address of all employers you work for within the last 18 months, including those in other states.
- If you’re self-employed, a farmer or a commercial fisher, proof of your employment and income.
How do I apply?
When there is a federal disaster in North Carolina, the Division of Employment Security will announce the areas in which DUA benefits are available and deadlines for applying.
The most efficient way to file a claim is to file online at des.nc.gov. If you need assistance, you may file over the phone by calling the Customer Call Center at 866-795-8877.
- Go to the North Carolina Division of Employment Security website at des.nc.gov.
- Create an online account and sign in to file your claim.
- Click File a New Unemployment Insurance Claim. All claimants are required to first apply for state unemployment insurance benefits. If you are found ineligible for or you have exhausted state unemployment insurance benefits, you may file for DUA.
- When filing for DUA, select ‘A federally-declared disaster’ when asked to give a reason for unemployment.
- If you are self-employed, a farmer or a commercial fisher, you must provide proof of employment and income within 21 days of filing your claim.
- Once your eligibility is determined, you will receive notification from DES.
- Remember, you must complete a Weekly Certification for every week you are filing for benefits to receive payments. If you earned any wages during the week, you must report them on your Weekly Certification.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance FAQs
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
If you are out of work as a direct result of Hurricane Irene and want to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, please call 1-866-795-8877 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The deadline for all 35 counties has been extended to November 1, 2011.
Si está sin trabajo como resultado del huracán Irene y quiere aplicar para assistencia de beneficios de desempleo (DUA) , llame nuestro número de emergencia, 1-866-795-8877.
Click here for additional information.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available from the N.C. Employment Security Commission for workers or business owners in 35 counties whose jobs or businesses were impacted by damage from Hurricane Irene. The funding is a result of Gov. Perdue securing federal disaster assistance.
The impacted counties include: Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Currituck, Craven, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell, Vance, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Wilson counties.
Workers in those counties who became unemployed as a direct result of Hurricane Irene impacting North Carolina, may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits under the DUA program. Business owners affected by the storm may also qualify for benefits.
Workers or business owners meeting the following criteria may be eligible for benefits:
- Individuals who are unemployed due to the disaster, and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits
- Self-employed individuals and small business owners who lost income due to the disaster
- Individuals who were prevented from working due to an injury caused by the disaster
- Individuals who have become the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death or injury of the previous major supplier of household income
- Individuals who are unable to reach their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster
- Individuals who were to commence employment or self-employment but were prevented by the disaster
There is no waiting period to file for benefits. Affected workers can receive benefits dated back to the week ending September 3, 2011.
DUA is funded entirely by the Federal Government.
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Those workers or business owners who temporarily or permanently lose their jobs due to the disaster may can get financial help. The N.C. Employment Security Commission offers Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) for those in federally-declared counties whose jobs or businesses were impacted by damage from the disaster. Workers or business owners meeting the following may be able to get these benefits:
- People who are unemployed due to the disaster, and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits;
- Self-employed people and small business owners who lost income due to the disaster;
- People who were kept from working due to an injury caused by the disaster;
- People who have become the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death or injury of the previous major supplier of household income;
- People who are not able to get to their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and are stopped from doing so by the disaster; or
- People who were to begin a job or self-employment but were stopped by the disaster.
DUA is funded entirely by the federal government and is not available in every disaster.