Application window now open for wildfire unemployment assistance

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal resources are lined up to help New Mexicans impacted by wildfires, including unemployment benefits.

Now, the application window for those benefits is open through June 15.

The money is for New Mexicans who have either lost their job or whose work has been interrupted because of the wildfires. If you qualify, you could get up to 30 weeks of assistance.

“It’s essentially the extension of unemployment benefits that have been extended to those who have been directly impacted by the fire,” said Ricky Serna, the acting secretary of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

The presidential disaster declaration, which includes five New Mexican counties, frees up resources for this disaster unemployment assistance. It’s for people who live, work or have to commute through those affected areas.

It even applies to those who are self-employed.

“Your self-employed, your gig economy workers, which is important when you think of those who ranch or farm as a primary source of income during pre-fire times,” Secretary Serna said.

According to Secretary Serna, they have people helping with those applications in-person at Glorieta Camp, Juan Gonzales Agriculture Center in Taos and Old Memorial Middle School in Las Vegas. So far, more than 200 have applied and around 80 have qualified for disaster unemployment relief.

“We have staff where most of the evacuees have been displaced to,” the acting secretary said. “What we’re trying to do is, make this as easy as possible.”

The department is asking that people apply for state unemployment first. If you don’t qualify there, you may be eligible for disaster unemployment.

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