Lowcountry Headlines

Lowcountry Headlines


S.C. Paid Out Millions for Unemployment Insurance

ByMichal Higdon|April 6, 2020 at 12:17 PM EDT - Updated April 6 at 12:17 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce says it has paid out approximately $10 million in unemployment benefits between March 29 through Thursday.

SCDEW is encouraging people to file in anticipation of the additional $600 weekly payment to be made under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

“We know this is much needed financial support for South Carolinians, and this is just the beginning of the benefits that will continue to flow into the state’s economy,” SCDEW Executive Director Dan Ellzey said. “While we do not yet have all of the guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor to implement these funds, I feel confident enough to advise individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19:APPLY!"

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Sunday the publication of Unemployment Insurance Program Letter providing guidance to states for implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

Under PUA, individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to continue working as a result of COVID-19, like self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers, are eligible for PUA benefits. This provision is contained in Section 2102 of the CARES Act enacted on March 27.

PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state law, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons, as defined in the CARES Act. Benefit payments under PUA are retroactive, for weeks of unemployment, partial employment, or inability to work due to COVID-19 reasons starting on or after January 27, 2020. The CARES Act specifies that PUA benefits cannot be paid for weeks of unemployment ending after December 31, 2020.

Eligibility for PUA includes those not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. Covered individuals also include self-employed individuals, those seeking part-time employment, and individuals lacking sufficient work history. Depending on state law, covered individuals may also include clergy and those working for religious organizations who are not covered by regular unemployment compensation.

The UIPL also includes guidance to states about protecting unemployment insurance program integrity. The department is actively working with states to provide benefits only to those who qualify for such benefits.

SCDEW has not responded to questions about what this means for South Carolinians eligible for PUA and when those people could be seeing a check.

Ellzey said if you are already receiving benefits, you will not lose your $600 weekly addition once the S.C. DEW receives the federal funding. It will be applied to your account retroactively beginning with claims filed for the week ending April 4.

SCDEW encourages employees who believe they may qualify for the additional $600 weekly benefit, available under the CARES Act, to file a claim. These individuals will also need to login into their account each week to confirm that they are still unemployed. This is known as Weekly Certification.

Although SCDEW does not yet have technical guidance or a start date for the CARES Act provisions, there are many types of people who would not normally qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, such self-employed workers, that could be eligible under a program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Individuals who may be eligible include:

  • Individuals who file a 1099
  • Self employed
  • Church employees
  • Non-profit and governmental employees
  • Independent contractors
  • Gig economy workers
  • Those who have exhausted their regular UI benefits

Subject to guidance from U.S. Department of Labor for PUA, benefits may be paid retroactively from the time the employee separated from his or her job or otherwise became eligible under the federal CARES Act, not from the time the application was submitted or approved.

If you are one of these people, have applied for unemployment insurance benefits, and were not found eligible, you may be eligible for weekly benefits provided for under the CARES Act. The SCDEW anticipates the system will recognize the date of your filing and determine your eligibility and whether additional information will be needed from you prior to retroactive payments being made.

These people must also meet one of these conditions:

  • The people has been diagnosed
  • A member of the person’s household has been diagnosed
  • The person is providing care to a household or family member; or a child or other person for which the he or she has primary caregiving responsibility and is unable to attend school or another facility as a result of COVID-19
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • The person is unable to reach the place of employment because the he or she has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
  • The person was scheduled to start work and does not have a job as a result of COVID-19
  • The person has become “the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19”
  • The person has to quit their job because of COVID-19
  • The person’s place of employment is closed because of COVID-19.

This list is not exhaustive.

Claims can be filed online by clicking the MyBenefits Portal on the top right side of the agency’s website:www.dew.sc.govor by calling 1-866-831-1724. Patience is encouraged filing a claim.

For step-by-step instructions on how to file, visitwww.dew.sc.gov/covid-huband click on the jobseeker page. There you will find links to video and PDF tutorials as well as FAQs to answer common questions.

For more information on UIPLs or previous guidance, visit:https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Photo: Live 5 News

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