South Carolina Unemployment – Know Your Rights

  Last Verified: April 2017  

The legislature in South Carolina continues to attempt changes to the state. In 2016, the lawmakers lowered the maximum weeks unemployed workers could receive benefits. Now, they plan to continue lowering the tax that funds unemployment insurance. If you were unemployed in South Carolina, read on for unemployment information pertinent to this state.

South Carolina Unemployment EligibilitySeal_of_South_Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) looks at your wages over a 12 month period prior to your filing your claim to determine whether you will qualify for benefits. You must have earned those wages from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment laws. If you meet the threshold for qualification, the claims examiner will further investigate to determine eligibility. You must:

  • Have lost your job through no fault of your own
  • Be able and available to work
  • Be authorized to work in the US

Soon after you file a claim with Mybenefits  you will receive a login for South Carolina Works. Looking for work is part of maintaining eligibility for benefits.

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own

Your actions or decisions can’t be the cause of your separation from work. Layoffs, a workplace-induced medical condition, constructive discharge, another job opportunity, or domestic circumstances may all be valid reasons to seek unemployment benefits.

Able and Available

You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file your claim. You must also be available to accept an offer of suitable employment. “Suitable employment” is work that you’re trained to do or capable of doing, and the pay should be similar to that which you’ve received in the past. The longer you go without work, the less important it becomes that the job you accept be “suitable.”

If you are attending school full-time now, and can’t alter your schedule to work, or you are incarcerated, you are unavailable to work.

Authorized to Work

You must be a US citizen to receive unemployment benefits. You may show that you are authorized to work in the US (“green card”). If you are on an H1-B Visa, you may apply if you have a specified return date.

Monetary Eligibility and the Base Period

The state will examine your wages over a 12-month period called the base period. The base period is the first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing a claim.

unemployment base period

This chart shows the base period.

To qualify for benefits, you have to have earned at least $1,092.00 during the quarter when you earned the most money (your “high quarter”). Additionally, your total base period wages must be at least $4,455. Your total base period wages must equal or exceed 1.5 times your high quarter wages.

If you don’t qualify using the standard base period, the state will use an alternative base period to calculate your wages.

Calculate Your Benefit Amount

The state uses your base period wages to calculate how much you’ll receive each week, your weekly benefit amount (WBA). The WBA is half of your average weekly wage during your base period.

The WBA can be no more than $326 and no less than $42. It’s set by state law.

The maximum number of weeks you can receive benefits in South Carolina is set by law as well, currently at 20 weeks. The total amount you may receive during a benefit year is 20 times your WBA OR 1/3 of your total base period wages, whichever is less.

Extended Benefits

During times of high unemployment, the state and federal governments may authorize additional weeks of benefits. Extensions are not currently authorized.

Requesting a Redetermination of Wages

After seven days, the DEW will mail a Monetary Determination. The letter will show your potential WBA and maximum benefit amount. If you disagree with the outcome, you may request a redetermination; however, you must be able to show evidence of the mistakes.

Receiving the Monetary Determination does not mean you are eligible for benefits. You will receive a notice of your eligibility later.

How to Apply

Filing for unemployment benefits is a simple matter of having the right resources. South Carolina has a slightly different process for applying for unemployment benefits; there are three main steps:

  1. Apply for benefits through the MyBenefits portal

Make sure that you are able to provide the following information/ documents:

  • Social Security Number
  • Previous employer(s) information (name, address, job-site location, telephone number, etc.)
  • Union hall information (if applicable)
  • Alien registration number (if applicable)
  • If you served in the military, the member-4 copy of your DD214
  • If you worked for a federal employer, the SF-8 and SF-50 copy
  1. Register for work on SC Works Online Services

All recipients of unemployment benefits are required by South Carolina state law to register for work within two weeks of submitting their initial claim.

File a Weekly Claim and Maintaining Eligibility

The state requires that you maintain your eligibility status while you receive benefits. To monitor your eligibility, you will have to file a continuing claim (weekly claim) each week and request a benefit payment.

Claim certifications may be filed online via the MyBenefits portal or by phone via the TelClaim System (1.866.831.1724 for residents and 1.866.831.1725 for non-residents).

Weekly claim certifications must be filed Tuesdays through Saturdays (4:00am- 12:00am) in order to ensure your next weekly compensation check.

In requesting the payment, you’ll have to answer several questions regarding your activities during the benefit week. The DEW will want to know whether:

  • You are making a good faith effort to find work
  • You are able and available to work
  • You refused any offer of suitable employment
  • You earned any wages or reportable income during the week

You must report any wages during the week you earned them, not the week you received a paycheck.

All applicants are required by South Carolina state law to actively search for work on SC Works Online Services every week immediately after filing their benefits claim. This applies during the waiting period as well.

Job Search Requirements

The DEW requires that you make a good faith effort to find work. For the DEW, a good faith effort is making at least three verifiable job searches per week. Applying for work through the SC Works online is an easy way to make sure you make acceptable job contacts.

The DEW may conduct an audit of your job search efforts at any time. Failure to look for work could result in a loss of benefits.

Part-time Work and Benefits

You may file a claim if you were working part-time and lost your job, or if your employer reduced your hours. You may also work part-time while receiving benefits.

You can work part-time and still receive benefits as long as your wages do not exceed your WBA. You can earn up to 25% of your WBA before the state deducts from your WBA. When you earn 25% or more, the state will start deducting dollar-for-dollar from your WBA.

If your WBA is $42 and you earn $10 (25%), the state takes nothing. If you earn $15, the state will reduce your WBA by $5 that week.

Receiving Your Benefits

South Carolina provides the option of receiving your unemployment benefits by one of two options: Direct Deposit and Debit Card. In order to ensure that your receive benefits, you must have an active bank account if you plan to use Direct Deposit.

Reasons for a Denial of Benefits

If you don’t qualify from your base period wages, you won’t receive benefits. If you do, the state may deny benefits based on an investigation of your separation from work or other issues.

Separation Issues

Quit

If you quit work without good cause, the examiner will deny benefits.Quitting for personal reasons, will trigger a denial. Quitting because you can’t find suitable day care for a school-age child is a personal reason.

While the default position may appear to be that no cause is good enough to quit, you may be eligible even when quitting your job. If your employer did something or failed to do something to cause you to quit, you may be eligible. Ask yourself whether you made a reasonable effort to resolve the issue before quitting and whether you can show your employer actually caused the separation.

Domestic Violence and Compelling Family Circumstances

Quitting because of issues unrelated to work may cause the examiner to deny your claim. Some issues may not. South Carolina specifies domestic violence as one of those issues. If you quit or were dismissed because of domestic violence issues, you may be eligible for benefits. You will have to show that the violence caused you to leave work and that you continue to fear for your safety.

You may also be eligible if the you were separated from employment due to compelling family circumstances including:

  • You develop an illness or disability.
  • An immediate family member – a spouse, parent or child – becomes ill or disabled.
  • Your spouse was transferred or employed in another city or state, requiring the you to move outside commuting distance to your previous employer.

Fired

Your employer can dismiss you for a variety of reasons. To deny a claim for benefits, the examiner must find the reason was misconduct. “Misconduct” is any behavior that shows a disregard for your employer’s interests.

Some actions may not rise to the level of misconduct. One-time actions that evince misjudgement or an inability to perform the work may not be misconduct.

What Happens When the State Denies Benefits

If the DEW finds your failure to make enough wages in the base period disqualifies you from receiving benefits, you can either request a redetermination or file an appeal. You can request an appeal for this or any other reason. You must do so within 10 days of the disqualification determination.

Read more about appeals at our page on unemployment benefit appeals in South Carolina.

Other Important Information

Receiving unemployment compensation can be a frustrating experience, especially if you are misinformed or do not have access to the right resources. Before filing, make sure you have all your documents in order and have access to correct information.

In the section below, you can find some helpful resources.

Helpful Resources

Phone Numbers

4:00am-12:00am Central Time

Thursday through Saturday

 

To File an Unemployment Compensation Claim

Residents:

1.866.831.1724

Non-residents:

1.866.831.1725

 

To Certify Weekly Claims

Residents:

1.866.831.1724

Non-residents:

1.866.831.1725

 

To Call The Interstate Online Assistance Filing Line

1.800.529.8339

 

To Call The SC Department of Employment & Workforce

803.737.2400

 

Addresses

SC Department of Employment & Workforce Main Office

Administrative Headquarters

1550 Gadsden Street

P.O. Box 995

Columbia, South Carolina 29202

 

The Hearing and Appeals Division

South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce

Appeal Tribunal

P.O. Box 995

Columbia, S.C. 29202

 

Web Links

The South Carolina Department of Labor

dew.sc.gov

 To File Online

mybenefits.dew.sc.gov

The MyBenefits Web Portal

https://mybenefits.dew.sc.gov/_sso/MyDew/DEWLogon.aspx

25 comments

  • christopher lee

    I was recently terminated from my job, regional manager told me the company has decided to terminate me I have no prior write ups or corrective actions against me never told me why I was being terminated. the days before I was fired I had voiced my concerns to the owner about the regional manager yelling and cussing at my employees how he didn’t let me run my store and would always go over my head and change my decisions, also a month prior to being terminated my regional manager told my “i look like shit” one morning after working til 12am and opening the next day so i told him i didnt appreciate that and went to leave the cooler we were standing in and he put his hands on me and kept me from leaving the cooler/situation i told him to please take his hands off of me and he told me to go home i did and called the owner who did nothing about the situation and said he is “old school” needing my job i felt if i said or did anything i would be fired. my regional manager told me I was a lead assistant but on paper I was a general manager so I did not want to absorb the general manager responsibilities without being considered the General manager and getting the pay that goes with it. Also expressed how certain employess under me did not do their jobs. Which after expressing my concerns i was fired two days later. Can i file agaisnt them and or can iapply for benifits

    Thanks

    • Yes, you are eligible. You file for benefits. When asked for a reason for the discharge, reply “I don’t know.” Because you don’t. Don’t tell the above story to the interviewer. There is nothing in there which will help you at this stage of your application. Your words mean nothing to the interviewer except if they can be cherry-picked to provide further evidence of why you should be denied. Interviewers have an uncanny knack for twisting your words or reporting the opposite of what you have said, sometimes even things you never said.

      Which is why, in your case, you shouldn’t take the call at all. If employer doesn’t respond to SC query, you get benefits. If it does respond negatively, you don’t – no matter what you tell the interviewer – until you appeal.

      If you decide to take the call, limit your responses to you always did the best job you could. You don’t know why you were let go – and hope SC doesn’t make stuff up.

      SC will query owner on why you were discharged. Chances are he will say something like “poor performance.” At the appeal, employer will be required to prove its charges of poor performance and that you INTENTIONALLY performed poorly. Without any previous warnings, unless they lie, accuse you of something egregious and SC believes their story – which is not uncommon in SC – you should get benefits at appeal.

  • Alicia

    I retired from the Navy 10 years ago (with pension) and promptly jumped into a second career. Unfortunately, I was recently laid off due to down sizing.

    Do I qualify for UI benefits?

    Thank you in advance

  • Sylvia Moseley

    For the state of s.c., can you draw unemployment compensation benefits if you are drawing social security benefits. Is the unemployment compensation benefits reduced because of social security benefits being paid?

  • Herman Boyd

    If you have already drawn your unemployment , once the year is up can you reapply even if you are still unemployed.

  • Mike

    Can an employer in SC provide terms in a severance agreement with an employee whereas the employee waives their right to unemployment insurance if the severance agreement is executed?

    • Those terms are unenforceable. SC must still pay you benefits no matter what you and your employer have agreed to. Whether or not employer has recourse to rescind severance and ask for repayment from you depends on your state laws. See an attorney on this issue.

  • loretta fosdick

    i applied and am eligible for unemployment in the state of south carolina, however after reading some of the comments here i learned of the waiting week does not apply in south carolina. the date on the comments was april 2, 2017 and i applied april 1, 2017 and there was a probationary of one week i was held accountable for. im confused, does sc have or does not have a waiting week?

  • Christina Jeffrey

    I have received unemployment once before but I do not recall and cannot find my ID and Password to re-enter the system. Should I just create a new ID and password?

  • AMANDA

    I have had a lot of proubles with my boss he crosses the line he is a bully he has humiliated in front of everyone in the office more than once expects me to do a five person job and then yells cause thiere is no time to do everything after three yrs he tells me he is going to give me a raise but has not gave it to me he pulled me out of my position and has gave me more thigs to do that i can not do and travle like he wants me to i went on 2 bussins trips and he is making me use my car and only paid me for one way down and a half a way back and got mad at me when i asked about my miles he is vary mementally abusive and i cry and have panic attacks and i do as i am told and he just gets worse i have told him i can not work all the hrs and he dose not care i work about 50 some times more monday to friday and then he is having me work from home. can i get unemployment while i am looking for new job

    • You need to make an effort to preserve the employment relationship before actually quitting.

      First, see a doctor. Have him state that the excessive hours and stress of this job are injurious to your health and that you are to be restricted to a 40-hour week. Then, send this note to your boss requesting a reduction in your work schedule, removal of the duties for which you have no training and which are materially different than presented to you at time of hire, implementation of the salary increases promised (list the dates when this occurred).

      If you’re lucky, he will fire you. If not, quit.

      Unfortunately, you are in SC, not a claimant-friendly state. However, you have a medical reason for the quit. That, together with employer’s breach of the employment contract gives you a chance at getting benefits.

      You may need to appeal to have the facts of your case properly examined. If that happens, at the appeal, organize your thoughts and presentation around:

      What were the duties and responsibilities of this job when you were originally hired?
      Were you aware you would need to work 50 hours a week?
      How substantially different are your duties today?
      Salary increases which never materialized?
      Your out-of-pocket expenses never reimbursed by employer?

      All of which led to detrimental effects to your health.

      Good luck.

  • Shirley Carroll

    My employer recently gave me an ultimatum of assuming the responsibility of what 3 employees have done in the past, for me to do solely or lose my job. They are aware of my severe anxiety and panic issues and I was even out on FMLA several years ago due to them. I have worked part time for this company for 7 years and was told that I would have to go full time. However, the issue is that they expect me to do 2 other full time jobs in only the extra 8 hours I will be working (because the other employees quit and they don’t want to replace them., plus they do not allow any overtime) I was told if I didn’t accept these terms, I will lose my job. This is unrealistic and not feasible as this is an extremely busy office. This has almost become a bullying situation when there are other employees capable of assisting with the tasks (and yes, I suggested that and was shunned.) I would also be compensated $2 less an hour than others previously started at when they were only doing 1/3 of the work that I will be doing. Is it possible for me to collect unemployment benefits while actively searching for other employment since they have given me no choice but to accept a position that they know has unrealistic expectations and will only make my anxiety more severe?

    • Yes. You have grounds for a quit, because your employer has discharged you from your part-time position and offered you new, unsuitable work with a material change to your previous employment contract of 7 years as to hours and duties. USDOL covers this issue, here:

      http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/UIPL41-98.cfm

      Tell employer you can’t accept this new job and want to keep the old job. If you’re lucky, he’ll fire you, which will make it somewhat easier to get benefits. Of course, your employer will say you’ve quit, you may need to appeal to prevail. Otherwise, quit and apply for benefits and use that time to look for another job. Again, you may need to appeal in order for SC to carefully examine the facts. Expect no money for at least two months.

      If you find another job and you win on appeal, SC will pay retro all weeks owed since your quit until you’ve begun the other job.

  • Edward Kistka

    On Wed 3/29/2017 our supervisor called a meeting at the end of the work day. He stated that a financial issue between our company and the firm we were contracted to work for was not being resolved and we would be advised when to return to work. No further explanation has been given. We were not ‘laid-off, furloughed or terminated’. Can we file a claim? Will it jeopordized our employment?

    • Yes, you can file a claim. Whether or not filing for benefits affects your employment is up to the employer. Employer can fire you for any reason. If that happens, you continue to collect benefits.

  • LS

    I have been out of work over a monthdue to upgrading and eligible for unemployment. I’ve only received 1 check. Who do I need to contact about getting my money… My supervisor has turnes in a list of names but still no money.. I need help ASAP

  • Leigh Cowart

    In an attempt to find out how I might go about filing for unemployment, I went to http://www.unemployment-assist.com/index_adwords.html. It seemed as if I was required to create a profile and submit an enrollment form to get any information. As I proceeded to complete the online process, a “Pop-Up” kept appearing, halting my progress, and indicating I am required to request a “Free Credit Score”. I would rather not at this time. Do I really have to do this in order to file for unemployment with the state of South Carolina, or did I accidentally stumble upon a website that is not affiliated w/ the state of South Carolina? If that’s the case, might you supply the state’s official unemployment website? Thank you.

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