State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said today that the Georgia Department of Labor is providing assistance to small business owners and self-employed workers in 17 counties who have lost their incomes as a direct result of the severe storms and flooding which began on September 18, 2009. The help is provided through federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) funds.

“I’m concerned that many small business owners and other self-employed workers are not aware that they may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, if their businesses have been damaged and they’re unable to operate,” said Commissioner Thurmond. “I encourage them to file for this assistance, which will provide temporary income until they can reopen their businesses and return to work.”

DUA is a federal program established to help workers whose primary income is lost or interrupted as a direct result of a disaster declared by the President. DUA differs from state unemployment insurance in that it also provides benefits to self-employed business people, farmers, diversified farming operators, loggers, commission-paid employees and others who are not eligible for Georgia’s regular unemployment insurance program.

Those who may be eligible in Bartow, Catoosa, Coweta, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Heard, Newton, and Rockdale counties are encouraged to apply for DUA benefits no later than Friday, October 30, 2009. Those in Carroll, Chattooga, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas, Paulding, Stephens, and Walker counties are encouraged to apply by Monday, Oct. 26, 2009.

In applying for DUA benefits, applicants will need to provide their social security number. Because verification of income may be required, applicants are strongly urged to bring proof of earnings for the most recently completed tax year. Examples of acceptable documents include: copies of their most recently completed income tax returns, copies of quarterly estimated income tax payment records, or similar documents.

Under certain circumstance, DUA benefits may also be available to individuals who become the breadwinner or major support of a household because the head of household has died as a direct result of the disaster. Potentially eligible workers should contact their nearest Georgia Department of Labor Career Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Workers may call the Georgia Department of Labor’s toll-free customer service line at (877) 709-8185 or visit www.dol.state.ga.us to obtain career center information