Labor Seal NYS Department of Labor                          

Contact Leo Rosales Cell: 518-281-6167 Office: 518-457-5519 Email:
Deadline Approaches for WNY Residents Impacted by August Storms to Apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Expanded eligibility requirements allow some workers not eligible for regular unemployment insurance to qualify for special disaster unemployment assistance

Albany, NY (September 23, 2009) - Can't See the video? Click Here to Get Adobe Flash Player. State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith urged Western New York residents who are unemployed because of the severe storms and flooding that began on August 8, 2009 in parts of Western NY to apply as soon as possible for special Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The application deadline is October 12.

“Time is running out to apply for these benefits. We know these storms affected many people, and these benefits can help ease a difficult situation for Western New Yorkers who are out of work because of the disaster,” Smith said. “Even if you are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits, you may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. But you must apply by the October 12 deadline, and it's only two-and-a-half weeks away.”

To qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, you must live or work in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Erie Counties and be ineligible for regular unemployment insurance. Here are some examples of reasons for unemployment that may make you 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 will speak with a representative at some point during the telephone filing process. 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 by October 12, 2009. 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 name and addresses of all employees you worked for within the 18 months prior to August 8, 2009, including 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 services 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, call 1-800-447-3992 or 1-888-469-7365, or visit the NYS Department of Labor’s website at

Benefits paid under the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program are funded by the Federal government under President Obama’s September 1st major disaster declaration for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Erie Counties. The NYS Department of Labor determines the validity of claims under the program, and makes payments to those eligible.

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