How Long Do I Have to Work For to Collect Unemployment in South Carolina?

To qualify for unemployment insurance in SC, you must have worked during at least two quarters of the base period. Your total base period earnings must be a minimum of $4,455 and at least 1.5 times your HQW. Your HQW must be a minimum of $1,092.

South Carolina offers an alternate base period, which considers the last four completed calendar quarters in the base period (instead of the first four); however, an extended base period is not offered.

In South Carolina an employer or employing unit is covered under unemployment insurance if it paid at least $1,500 in wages during any calendar quarter in the current or previous calendar year. Further, an employer/employing unit is also covered under unemployment insurance if it paid wages to at least one employee and employed said worker at least one day per week during the 20 weeks of the current or previous calendar year.


  • Timmy Johnson

    I’m trying to understand how the quarters go? I was told that I use all of my 1st quarter but I still had money left in the rest of my quarters

    • Depends on when you filed and the base period used by SC. For example, assuming you filed for benefits in April, May, or June 2017, the standard base period would be earnings Jan-Dec. 2016; or the alternate base period April 1, 2016-March 30, 2017.

      SC (and most states) will use the FIRST base period which qualifies you, not the most advantageous. Therefore, even though you may have had earnings through 3/31/2017, if Jan-Dec. 2016 meets SC’s qualifiers, this is the base period SC must use. Any remaining quarters are called your LAG, which are available for use in a second claim a year from now should you have new earnings during that period and experience another qualified job loss.

      The way to avoid this is to examine your earnings BEFORE filing and possibly delay your application for benefits. In other words, if you had waited to file for benefits until July 2nd, SC’s standard base period would include earnings April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017.

      Now if SC has already used its ABP to include 3/31/2017 in order to qualify you, filing July 2nd would require SC to use its standard base period which on July 2nd would still be earnings through 3/31/2017.

      Know that, if you are still within (1) 30 days of receiving your monetary determination, and (2) if you have not yet certified for any weeks, and (3) have not been paid for any weeks, you may yet be able to ask SC to withdraw the claim with the intention of refiling on July 2nd for a better base period. Many states will allow a withdrawal and refiling. You would need to speak to SC about this possibility.

      • Ashley

        If I started Dec. 27th 2016 and get fired on July 17, 2017, how long should I wait to claim? I have to wait 2 weeks because that is a penalty for being fired. I only worked 28 or 29 weeks total. I just don’t want to claim to early and all my earnings not be there like you said. My boss told me Friday that she will probably be letting me go this Monday in a meeting in the morning. I have a 7 & 9 year old and need to provide for them. Can you help me calculate this so I do it right.

        • You can file anytime now. If you have no wages prior to this job, using its alternate base period, SC will qualify you using wages 07/01/2016 – 06/30/2017. SC will need three-four weeks to process the claim, so don’t delay. File when you are terminated.

  • Samantha Turner

    Got military orders to move. After working my two week notice, I’ll have 29 days til I have to get to the other state. Am I eligible for unemployment?

    • Benefits are available for those who have been discharged, but generally not during furloughs. Talk to your base personnel people on available benefits for people in your situation. Are you sure you won’t be paid for this period? Seems odd you would be ordered to move but not paid during this period.

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