North Carolina Unemployment – Know Your Rights
North Carolina UC (Unemployment Compensation) benefits provide temporary compensation to individuals who fulfill all the eligibility requirements of North Carolina Law. The North Carolina Department of Employment Security (DES) administers the unemployment insurance program in accordance with the Federal guidelines.
To qualify to receive unemployment benefits, you must have earned enough wages from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law. The DES will look at wages over a 12-month period prior to your filing a claim. Additionally:
- You must be unemployed through no fault of your own.
- You must be able and available to work
- You must register with NCWorks.
- You must be a US citizen or legally authorized to work in the US
Eligibility Requirements Explained
Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own
Your actions or decisions cannot be the cause of your separation from work. An action that causes your dismissal or a decision to quit without good cause will often result in a denial of benefits.
Able and Available
You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file your initial claim. You must also be available to accept an offer of suitable employment. “Suitable employment” is a job you’ve performed or are trained to do that pays a salary commiserate with the job duties.
Legally Authorized to Work
You must be a US citizen or be able to prove you were authorized to work in the US by the government. You should be able to show a visa or alien registration card.
Wage Earning Requirements and the Base Period
The DES will look at your wages over a period of months prior to your filing a claim for benefits called the base period. The base period is the first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing the claim.
You will qualify if your wages meet the following conditions:
You earn six times your “average weekly wage” (how much you made a week on average during your base period) in at least two quarters during the base period.
You made at least $780 in one of the two last quarters of your base period.
The DES will mail a Wage Transcript and Monetary Statement after determining your base period wages. This will tell you whether you meet the wage requirement. It is not a confirmation that you will be receiving benefits.
If you notice an error in your statement, you should contact the DES immediately. You can request a redetermination of your wages. However, you should be able to support your claim with evidence.
Calculating Your Benefit Payments
The DES takes the total wages in the last two quarters in your base period and divides that number by 52 to determine your weekly benefit amount (WBA).
The maximum WBA in NC is currently $350. The minimum amount is $15. If the above calculation is below $15, you will not be eligible for benefits.
The DES offers a benefits estimator at their website. You’ll need your social security number to use it.
You are allowed a maximum of 20 weeks of benefits. In times of high unemployment, the state and federal government each have programs to extend the maximum weeks. Currently, neither the state nor federal government have authorized any extended benefits.
How to apply
You may file for unemployment benefits in North Carolina online or by phone. If you wish to file by phone, you can call 1-877-841-9617 any day of the week. You may file online here.
Before you begin the application process, make sure:
- You should collect the name and address of the employer you last worked for.
- The dates of your most recent employment need to be reported. You can do it easily by collecting W2s and pay stubs.
- Be prepared to show and prove that your unemployment is not your fault.
- Do not forget to keep any written notification of your termination, layoff, or severance that you might have received.
If you are using the federal government or military as a base period employer, you will have to provide the proper separation forms when you apply.
Weekly Certification and Maintaining Eligibility
The DES wants benefit recipients to maintain eligibility status during the time they are receiving benefits, especially that they are available to work and are looking for work. In order to monitor this, the state requires benefit recipients to certify their claim each week, also called filing a weekly claim.
You may certify online or by telephone at 888-372-3453. If you use the telephone to certify, you have certain days you call to certify. If your SSN ends in an odd number, call on Monday. If it ends in an even number, call on Tuesday. The rest of the week is open to all. Those who call soonest receive their benefits soonest.
When you certify, you will receive several questions meant to determine whether you have maintained eligibility for that week. The DES wants to know:
- Whether you are able and available to work
- Whether you have started or quit a job
- Whether you have earned wages or income that you are required to report
- Whether you have refused an offer of suitable employment
- Whether you are making a good faith effort to find work
If you have earned wages, you will have to report your earnings when you certify. You report your wages during the week you earned those wages, not during the week in which you received them.
Part-time Work and Benefits
Work Search Requirement
Reasons for Denial of Benefits
Quit and Still Eligible
Fired and Still Eligible
What Happens When the DES Denies Benefits
You have the right to appeal any determination the DES makes regarding your benefits. The DES will mail you a Notice of Determination regarding the denial of benefits. The notice will tell you how long you have to file your appeal, in writing, with the DES’ Appeals Section. For more information on unemployment appeals, read our page on NC appeals.
You will also want to read the state’s Unemployment Insurance Overview.
For specific questions or special problems, it may be best to call and get information from the source.
NCESC Phone number
DES mailing address
P.O. Box 25903
Raleigh, NC 27611-5903
DES central office
700 Wade Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27605
Weekly certification phone number