Unemployment benefits, also referred to as unemployment insurance (UI), are in place to make up lost wages for individuals who have be separated from work by no fault of their own. Each state runs its own unemployment benefit program, which means services and benefits vary slightly from state to state. Regardless of the state program you participate in, benefits are not based on need, meaning anyone can receive UI payment should they find themselves out of the job and eligible for the unemployment program in their state.

How Unemployment Works in South Carolina

State of South Carolina unemployment benefits are administered by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) and paid for through employer taxes. In addition to paying out South Carolina unemployment benefits, the South Carolina unemployment department collects unemployment taxes, helps people find jobs, connects businesses with qualified candidates to hire, shares labor market information, such as the South Carolina unemployment rate and other employment data, and assists with upholding of South Carolina unemployment laws.

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How to Get Unemployment in South Carolina

  1. Have lost your job through no fault of your own.
    South Carolina unemployment benefits are only paid to individuals who lose their job for a reason they cannot control, such as a lay off or company closure. Individuals who are fired for misconduct or quit their job voluntarily are not often eligible for benefits. If you are unsure whether or not the reason you separated from work qualifies you to receive South Carolina unemployment compensation, you should file a claim to clarify whether or not you are eligible for benefits.
  2. File a South Carolina unemployment claim.
    Before receiving South Carolina unemployment compensation, you must file a South Carolina unemployment application by completing the following steps:
    • Create a username and password
    • Register your account
    • File a claim
  3. You may file your claim online through the South Carolina unemployment website’s MyBenefits portal.
    See How do I apply for South Carolina unemployment benefits? below for more information on applying for South Carolina UI.
  4. Register for work in South Carolina.
  5. You are required to register for work on SC Works Online Services within two weeks of filing your initial South Carolina unemployment application. If you do not register for work, you will not receive South Carolina unemployment compensation.
  6. Maintain an active job search.
    Looking for work is a key component of remaining eligible to receive unemployment benefits in South Carolina. Failure to do so will result in the termination of benefits. You will record your job search efforts in your weekly claims and will be denied benefits if you fail to do so.
  7. Continue filing weekly claims.
    Your initial eligibility determination must be continually confirmed through weekly South Carolina unemployment claim filing. You will be asked to report any income and document your job search activities each week to continue receiving UI benefits.

What are the eligibility requirements to qualify for unemployment benefits in South Carolina?

South Carolina unemployment eligibility is determined when you file a claim with DEW. When you file a claim, you will be asked to provide information that proves you meet the South Carolina unemployment qualifications in order to receive UI benefits. South Carolina unemployment requirements fall into two categories—monetary and situational.  

Monetary Requirements 

  • You have earned a minimum of $4,445 in wages covered by unemployment insurance during your base period
  • You have earned a minimum of $1,092 in wages covered by unemployment insurance during the highest quarter of your base period
  • In your entire base period, you have earned a minimum of equal to or more than 1.5 times the highest wage earning quarter of your base period

Situational Requirements 

  • You are unemployed (if you are earning less than your weekly benefit amount, you are considered unemployed in South Carolina and may be eligible for benefits)
  • The reason you are no longer working for your most recent employer is not your fault
  • You are available to work
  • You are able to work
  • You are willing to accept a reasonable offer for work
  • You complete required activities at your South Carolina unemployment office or SC Works center
  • You actively search for suitable work on a weekly basis, completing a minimum of 2 work searches via SC Works Online Services
  • You file South Carolina unemployment weekly claims

Disqualifications

You do not meet South Carolina unemployment benefits eligibility if:

  • You voluntarily left work without good cause
  • You were fired, let go or discharged for any reason
  • You refuse to accept suitable work that’s offered to you
  • You retire voluntarily
  • You are unemployed due to a labor dispute

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What are the work search requirements for receiving unemployment benefits in South Carolina? 

While receiving UI benefits in South Carolina, you are required to actively search for work. As mentioned above, to accomplish this, you must complete a minimum of two job searches weekly using SC Works Online Services. You will be asked to report this activity on your South Carolina unemployment weekly claim. Failure to do so will result in a termination of benefits. For “good cause”, you may receive a waiver for this requirement. In this case, “good cause” means barriers such as being unable to access the electronic portal, language barriers, etc.

 SC Works offers no cost job search services to everyone in South Carolina and can be an excellent resource beyond fulfilling your weekly online job search requirement. There are 56 brick and mortar locations statewide offering one on one career coaching, résumé reviews, interview help, job fairs, workshops and more. 

How do I apply for South Carolina unemployment benefits?

The first step to apply for South Carolina unemployment benefits is to file a claim. When you file a South Carolina unemployment claim, your eligibility will be determined as well as the amount of your UI benefit payments. You will file your claim through DEW’s MyBenefits portal. In order to file your claim, you first need to create an account, which includes setting up a username and password and registering your account.  

Once you’ve created your account, you will need the following information to file your claim through the portal: 

  • Social security card/number or alien registration number
  • Previous 18 months of work history, including:
  • Company name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Wages earned with each employer

 The standard claim week is Sunday to Saturday. You may file your weekly claim as early as Sunday, documenting activity from the previous week. The sooner you file your claim, the quicker you will receive payment.

How much will my unemployment insurance payments be in South Carolina? 

 After applying for unemployment in South Carolina, DEW will take a look at your claim and send you a Monetary Determination within a week of filing your claim. This document will include your South Carolina unemployment amount for each weekly payment you are eligible to receive. If eligible, you can expect to receive about 50 percent of your average weekly base period wage.

South Carolina’s maximum weekly benefit amount is $326 and the minimum is $42. Your payment amount will be determined based on insured wages earned during your base period, which is made up of the initial four out of the last five calendar quarters before you file your initial claim.

If you do not quality for unemployment benefits using the traditional base period, you may file for benefits using an alternative base period. The alternative base period in South Carolina encompasses the most recent four calendar quarters. You can only use the alternate base period if you do not qualify for benefits using the traditional base period.

Only insured wages are used to calculate your benefits. This means your employer paid unemployment insurance to cover wages you earned while working for them. Most construction, factory, retail, office and other traditional jobs are insured and will qualify you for benefits.

How soon will I be paid my South Carolina unemployment benefits?

By law, you will not receive a UI payment for the first week after your claim is filed. This is called a waiting week. During this time, you are expected to begin your job search even though you will not receive payment until the following week.

You will begin receiving benefits once you claim has been accepted, you’ve set up your payment option and your waiting week without payment has lapsed. You can view the status of your payment within your online benefit account.

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How will I receive my South Carolina unemployment benefit payments?

You have two options to receive your UI benefit payments in South Carolina—prepaid debit card or direct deposit.

The prepaid debit card is accepted anywhere Visa is accepted. You can make purchases without fees and easily find no-fee transactions that offer cash back when making purchases. While there are no fees associated with the card from DEW, you may be charged fees to use this type of card in certain situations, such as an ATM fee. That being said, there are many benefits to using the prepaid debit card option to receive you UI payments:

  • Quick (payments available by 9 a.m. on day of release)
  • Convenient (accepted everywhere Visa is)
  • More secure than cash
  • No fees for cashing checks
  • Easier control over your money (use it as needed)
  • 24/7 information (account info and customer service available via phone and web)

If you choose direct deposit, the payment will be transferred directly to your account within 2-3 business days. If you provide incorrect information, DEW will contact you to resolve any errors. However, if there is an issue connecting to your account payment will be delayed.

How long can I receive unemployment benefits in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, you can receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. In times of high unemployment, a South Carolina unemployment extension may be set in place, extending benefits passed 26 weeks.

Can I appeal the decision if my South Carolina unemployment benefit claim is denied?

If you disagree with a decision made regarding your South Carolina unemployment insurance claim, you are completely within your rights to appeal. However, you must do so within 10 days of receiving your determination in the mail.

To file an appeal, you should fill out a Notice of Appeal to the Appeal Tribunal Form (APP-100) or submit a detailed written letter of appeal outlining why you think the determination is wrong. Your social security number and a handwritten signature must also be included. The decision will then be taken to an Appellate Panel for review. You need to continue filing weekly claims and actively job searching while a decision is being made. Failure to do so may result in forfeiting benefits during that time period.

Hearings are scheduled in the order in which they are received. They usually take place via phone, but may be scheduled in person at a SC Works center. The hearing is your opportunity to present testimony, witnesses and evidence to prove your case. If you do not show up to the hearing, your appeal may be dismissed.

If you have additional information to add following your initial determination, you may elect to use a request for reconsideration before making an appeal. A request for reconsideration must also be made within 10 days and can only be used if you have additional information to include that was not in your initial claim. If this is not the case, a traditional appeal should be used.

How to Contact the South Carolina Unemployment Insurance Program

The main agency South Carolina unemployment phone number is (803) 737-2400. Another useful South Carolina unemployment number is the TelClaim line, which offers self-service options for claimants. To access this line, call 1-866-831-1724. You may press 3 to reach a live representative from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. Spanish speakers should dial 1-866-572-3148 to reach the TeleClaim service.

A list of South Carolina unemployment office locations can be accessed here. Click on your region to find the South Carolina unemployment contact nearest you.