South Carolina Unemployment – Know Your Rights
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 Eligibility
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
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.
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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
4:00am-12:00am Central Time
Thursday through Saturday
To File an Unemployment Compensation Claim
To Certify Weekly Claims
To Call The Interstate Online Assistance Filing Line
To Call The SC Department of Employment & Workforce
SC Department of Employment & Workforce Main Office
1550 Gadsden Street
P.O. Box 995
Columbia, South Carolina 29202
The Hearing and Appeals Division
South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce
P.O. Box 995
Columbia, S.C. 29202
The South Carolina Department of Labor
To File Online
The MyBenefits Web Portal