Governor Jared Polis offers update on Boulder County fire recovery

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Structures burn on Dec. 30, 2021, in Boulder County, just south of Boulder Road, west of Cherryvale Road and about a quarter-mile west of Boulder Valley Christian Church. (KDVR)

DENVER – Governor Jared Polis joined Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle to provide an update on critical resources for the thousands affected by the Marshall Fire.

The Polis administration and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced that Disaster Unemployment Assistance has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for individuals, including unemployed self-employed individuals, who were living, working, or traversing to work in the impacted areas at the time of the major disaster caused by the Marshall FireWildfires and Straight-line Winds in Boulder County on Dec. 31. 

“As community members impacted by the Marshall Fire face the difficult task of rebuilding, the state is working around the clock to provide easy access to one-stop sites for resources including the Disaster Assistance Center and now individuals who have lost their employment can access FEMA’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance,” said Governor Polis.

DUA provides unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. The first possible week of compensation for DUA purposes is the week ending Jan. 8, 2022, and the final week of compensation is the week ending July 2, 2022. Claims must be filed between Jan. 3, 2022, through Feb. 2, 2022.

FEMA’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance program is available to states to provide unemployment benefits to individuals who have become unemployed as a direct result of an incident that resulted in a Presidential major disaster declaration for Individual Assistance and who are not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance. 

Individuals employed by businesses damaged or destroyed who are now out of work due to the fire may file a UI claim. The first step for any individuals looking to qualify for this assistance is to file a Standard Unemployment Insurance claim through MyUI+. If determined ineligible, the system will provide an application for Disaster UI Benefits. 

Per federal law, to be eligible for DUA, individuals must do the following:

  • Provide proof of identity
  • Be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien
  • File an application for DUA with local unemployment insurance agency within 30 days of the date of the public announcement of availability of DUA
  • Name and address of their last place of employment;
  • Documents verifying employment for the tax year that ended prior to the individuals unemployment as a result of the disaster;
  • Not be eligible for regular unemployment insurance
  • Be unemployed or partially unemployed as a direct result of the major disaster
  • Be able and available for work, unless injured as a direct result of the disaster (see conditions below)
  • Have not refused an offer of employment in a suitable position. 

In addition to those who lost their jobs due to the disaster, individuals eligible for DUA may also include the following: 

  • 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
  • individuals who became the breadwinner or major support for a household because of the death of the head of household due to the disaster, or individuals who cannot work or perform services in self-employment because of an injury caused as a direct result of the disaster. 
  • In addition, the state should advise individuals that their unemployment is a direct result of the major disaster if the unemployment resulted from: (1) the physical damage or destruction of the place of employment; (2) the physical inaccessibility of the place of employment due to its closure by the federal, state, or local government in immediate response to the disaster; or (3) lack of work, or loss of revenues, if, prior to the disaster, the employer or self-employed business received at least a majority of its revenue or income from an entity in the major disaster area that was damaged or destroyed in the disaster or an entity in the major disaster area closed by the federal, state, or local government.

A list of businesses, structures, and homes affected can be found here. 

Additional resources for Coloradans can be found here. 

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