Labor Seal NYS Department of Labor                          

Contact Leo Rosales Cell: 518-281-6167 Office: 518-457-5519 Email:
State Labor Department Offers Disaster Relief Programs
Those affected by August storms in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie Counties may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Albany, NY (September 11, 2009) - State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announced today that people who are unemployed because of the severe storms and flooding that began on August 8, 2009 in parts of Western NY may be eligible for special Disaster Unemployment Payments. At the request of Governor David Paterson, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Erie Counties were declared a major disaster area by President Obama on September 1, 2009.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance can keep some income coming in for Western New Yorkers coping with unemployment resulting from the storms earlier this summer,” Smith said. “I’d like to thank Governor Paterson for securing these funds, and President Obama for understanding the extent of the damage and declaring these counties a major disaster area.

The NYS Department of Labor will determine the validity of claims under the program, and make payments to those eligible. The program will be funded by the federal government.

People who live or work in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Erie Counties and are not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance payments. Here are some examples of reasons for unemployment that may make a person eligible to receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance:

  • You were injured in the disaster and are unable to work, whether you are an employee or self-employed.
  • Your workplace was damaged, destroyed, or you can’t get there because of the disaster.
  • Your transportation to work is not available because of the disaster.
  • You cannot get to your job because you must travel through the affected area, and you cannot do that because of the disaster.
  • You were about to begin working, but could not because of the disaster.
  • You are now the breadwinner or major support for a household because the former head of household died in the disaster.
  • You are out of work because the Federal government took over or closed the facility where you worked.
  • You derived most of your income from areas affected by the disaster, whether you worked for yourself or for an employer, and your business is down as a direct result of the disaster.

To apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, you must first file for regular Unemployment Insurance by calling the NYS Department of Labor’s toll-free telephone line at 1-888-209-8124. Choose the option for filing a new claim. Most people at some point during the telephone filing process will speak with a representative. Tell the representative that you are filing due to the August storms. If you are not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits, you will be mailed an application for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. If you complete the telephone filing process without speaking to a representative, please call 1-866-642-7227 and ask for a Disaster Unemployment Assistance application.

Applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance should be filed with the NYS Department of Labor as soon as possible, and must be filed within 30 days of this announcement. If you are eligible, benefits are payable beginning August 10, 2009. You must continue to be unemployed as a result of the disaster in order to continue receiving Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

When you file for unemployment insurance benefits, you should have the following information ready and available:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your NYS driver’s license or Motor Vehicle ID card number, if you have one.
  • Your mailing address and zip code.
  • A telephone number where you can be reached for additional information.
  • Your alien registration card number, if you have one.
  • The names and addresses of all employers you worked for within the 18 months prior to August 8, 2009, including any in another state.

If you are eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits, you will have a one-week waiting period before benefits can begin. The waiting period is the first week after you file your claim.

The NYS Department of Labor has a network of One-Stop Career Centers in each county in the state. They can provide career counseling and help you find a job, investigate training options, prepare a resume, improve your interviewing skills, and find information about the local job market. To find your local One-Stop Career Center, go to the NYS Department of Labor’s web site at

For more information on Disaster Unemployment Assistance, or for an application form if you did not receive one, please call 1-866-642-7227.