Hurricane Irma: How to recover lost wages after the storm

If you were are unable to work or were prevented from working because of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma, you may be able to recover your lost wages.

In some cases, employers will pay for lost time. In other cases, you may be able to recover wages under the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) – a program that provides "financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the president of the United States and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits."

Once a disaster is declared, you can file an unemployment claim with your state agency. If your claim is accepted, you're guaranteed at least 50 percent of the average benefit in your state. DUA can last up to six months. 

Here’s a look at some of the programs the U.S. government offers to help with wages.

This information comes from The Department of Labor website.

National Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs): DWGs are discretionary grants awarded by the Secretary of Labor, under Section 170 of WIOA. DWGs provide resources to states and other eligible applicants to respond to large, unexpected layoff events causing significant job losses. Learn how to apply for a DWG.

Retirement and healthcare plan guidance for employers and employees: The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is temporarily waiving certain requirements and deadlines related to retirement and health insurance plans for employers, employees and others who may have trouble meeting them due to Hurricane Harvey. EBSA is working with the Internal Revenue Service to make it easier for workers to get loans and distributions from 401(k) and other retirement plans and is temporarily waiving certain employer requirements and deadlines related to employee benefit plans. Read the FAQs. Contact EBSA or call toll free 1-866-444-3272 with any questions.

Assisting veterans: The Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) is working with its grantees to identify flexibilities requested or additional funding needs for its programs, including the Texas Veterans Commission, which administers the Jobs for Veterans State Grants program; affected Homeless Veterans Reintegration Programs (HVRP) grantees; and affected military bases where Employment Workshops are taught.

Wages: Questions about being paid correctly following the disaster and recovery? Contact the Department's Wage and Hour Division or call toll free 1-866-487-9243 with any questions.

Recording hours workedDownload the DOL Timesheet App to record the number of hours you have worked and calculate the amount you may be owed by your employer.

Unemployment Insurance (UI): The Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Find your state's unemployment insurance information.

To contact the Department of Labor: Department of Labor's National Contact Center: 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365).

About the Author