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North Carolina Unemployment Benefits

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The North Carolina unemployment program provides financial support to former workers throughout the state who are currently unemployed. Unemployment Insurance (UI), which is also called unemployment compensation (UC), also supplies unemployed workers with monetary funds they may use to provide for themselves and their families during this transition. While not a long-term solution to job loss, enrollees who claim unemployment benefits may use this program as a stepping stone while they are not working. The NC Department of Employment Security (DES) manages UI funds, enforces program rules and determines who qualifies for assistance.

Unemployment insurance coverage is funded through employer tax money, and qualified applicants may enroll at any point during the year. Funds do not become scarcer toward the end of the fiscal year. As a result, petitioners should apply for this program as soon as they lose their jobs. The following sections will outline the program’s eligibility for unemployment requirements and provide an overview on how potential claimants can apply for benefits. The information below also explains what happens if petitioners are denied unemployment and what approved candidates must do each week to maintain their eligibility.

What is unemployment in North Carolina?

Unemployment in North Carolina is used to help create financial stability for workers who have recently lost their jobs. However, UC only provides temporary financial assistance to beneficiaries. This program is available to qualifying applicants for a maximum of twelve weeks during a 52-week period. While an unemployment claim is technically active for one calendar year, enrollees are only eligible to receive benefits for one quarter of that time.

The state also imposes limits on the amount of unemployment insurance benefits applicants may receive each week they are enrolled in the program. These totals are referred to as weekly benefit amounts (WBAs). The minimum WBA enrollees may receive through UC is $15. The maximum WBA beneficiaries can be paid is $350. This number is determined based on how much income candidates earned in previous calendar quarters.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in North Carolina?

The eligibility for unemployment requirements are based on three key factors. These criteria relate to whether or not claimants:

  • Are unemployed due to situations they could not manage or change.
  • Meet the state’s income stipulations.
  • Have the physical capacity and schedule availability to search for work and accept job offers.

Candidates who are wondering “What are the requirements to get unemployment in North Carolina?” should keep in mind that eligible beneficiaries must be out of work through no fault of their own. Oftentimes, approved program applicants were laid off due to work shortages or they lost their positions because their employers were businesses that closed. However, candidates who vacated their positions because they disliked their jobs or did not get along with their supervisors are unlikely to qualify for UI.

When determining unemployment insurance eligibility, the DES examines how much money applicants earned in their base periods. Base periods consist of the first four of the last finished calendar quarters. The base period is always one year, but the exact composition the DES uses varies, depending on when petitioners apply for UC. To meet the financial UI eligibility requirements, applicants must have earned a minimum amount of income during that period. If candidates do not meet this minimum, they are unlikely to qualify for program benefits.

Applicants’ potential for reemployment

Qualifications for unemployment in North Carolina take into account applicants’ potential for reemployment. Since UC is not available to beneficiaries for a prolonged period of time, applicants must be willing and able to actively pursue job leads while enrolled. Claimants who are ill or who have long-term physical disabilities that prevent them from working are not eligible for UC. Similarly, candidates who match the following descriptions do not meet the state’s eligibility for UI prerequisites:

  • Lack of transportation: To qualify for UC, candidates must be able to make it to and from work. As a result, claimants who do not have access to reliable transportation are not eligible for benefits. Likewise, candidates who quit their previous jobs because they did not have transportation do not qualify either.
  • Child or adult care responsibilities: One of the qualifications for unemployment is that petitioners must be available to work full-time jobs. Applicants who are unable to work because they have to be home to care for children or elderly family members do not have full work availability and cannot receive UC.
  • Conflicting class schedules: Claimants who are in school and have heavy course loads may not receive UC. This is especially true if petitioners’ classes take place at times during their jobs’ standard work hours.

How can I sign up for unemployment in North Carolina?

A potential applicant may wonder how to apply for unemployment online if they have access to computers. This is the preferred option when claimants apply for unemployment benefits in North Carolina because it is the quickest method and can be completed anywhere with an internet connection. Furthermore, the DES can quickly process petitions that are submitted online because they are received instantaneously.

To complete the online application for employment, candidates must provide their Social Security Numbers and a detailed account of their employment histories. Applicants are also required to disclose where they worked and for how long they were employed at these particular establishments.

When claimants apply for unemployment benefits in NC, they also need to indicate how they want to receive their UC benefits. Enrollees can have their funds distributed to them via direct deposit to their personal accounts or onto DES debit cards. The former option is faster but if applicants choose to receive their UI stipends through direct deposit, they must provide their account and routing numbers when they apply.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in North Carolina?

Each week they claim unemployment benefits in North Carolina, candidates are responsible for filing re-certification petitions. Applicants must submit these requests on time or they risk not being paid UC funds for the corresponding weeks. Petitioners may file online but enrollees who do not have reliable computer access may certify their petitions by phone instead.

When claiming benefits for unemployment, candidates need to attest that they are continuing to meet the program’s eligibility requirements. In particular, applicants must certify that they are actively searching for work opportunities. This step is also confirmed in a subsequent interview, but each week, enrollees must ensure they are searching for work.

To maintain the unemployment benefits claim, petitioners must either keep track of the employers they contact on their own documents or by using the state’s work search record template. Specifically, beneficiaries must report:

  • Who they communicated with.
  • How they made contact with these representatives.
  • Where these companies are located.
  • The businesses’ physical and website addresses.

How do I prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in North Carolina?

Petitioners may need to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview after they submit their UC applications. In lieu of conducting an unemployment phone interview in North Carolina, all candidates are required to have in-person interviews with Division of Workforce Solutions (DWS) specialists. These conversations are referred to as Employment Assessment Interviews (EAIs).

The EAI unemployment interview with the claimant helps the DWS stay up-to-date on whether or not enrollees are meeting program requirements. During these interviews, enrollees meet with workforce specialists. These conversations are crucial for candidates who want to keep receiving UC benefits.

To prepare for the unemployment interview, beneficiaries should create detailed summaries of their work search efforts. These show DWS representatives that enrollees are actively pursuing reemployment opportunities. In addition, claimants should also bring their photo identification cards. Examples of acceptable documentation include:

  • Driver’s licenses.
  • State-issued identification cards for non-drivers.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment in North Carolina?

Claimants who are denied unemployment in North Carolina are not obligated to abandon their cases. Instead, there are procedures that petitioners may follow to file an unemployment denial appeal. Similarly, former employers who are dissatisfied with the DES’ decisions also have the opportunity to file appeals. They must follow steps that are similar to the applicants’ procedure to file appeals.

When filing a denied unemployment benefits appeal, applicants have various methods they may utilize to submit their requests. Candidates may appeal:

  • Via email.
  • As mailed letters.
  • Through faxed messages.

UI denial appeal

Regardless, all petitions must be submitted in writing. Candidates who have their unemployment benefits denied in NC have 10 days from when their initial determinations were mailed to file their requests. If these appeals are late, claimants risk waiving their rights to request that their UC denials are reconsidered. Therefore, it is imperative that applicants stay up-to-date with their timelines.

The DES is responsible for hearing a UI denial appeal request, and the department notifies employers and claimants once it receives these petitions. These notifications contain the times and dates of the appeals hearings, which are generally conducted over the phone. However, either party may request to have their trials take place in person. During the denied unemployment appeal, both employers and claimants can submit evidence and call witnesses to testify for them. Similarly, participants may have legal representation counsel them throughout this process. However, this is generally not a requirement for claimants to successfully present their cases.

After the denied UI benefits appeal hearings conclude, the appeals referees notify participants of the decisions. However, if either party disagrees with these determinations, reconsiderations can be requested again. The escalated levels of appeals include:

  • Level 2: This is an appeal to the Board of Review, where an administrative review determines UC petitions.
  • Superior Court: At this step, a judicial review process assesses whether or not claimants qualify for UI benefits.
  • NC Court of Appeals: Similar to the Superior Court, a judicial review is conducted to decide if applicants qualify for program support.
  • NC Supreme Court: The final step in the appeals process, applicants’ cases are determined via judicial review.

How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in North Carolina?

The federal unemployment extension program is an initiative that allows UC recipients to receive benefits beyond a state’s standard maximum enrollment period. As a result, an unemployment benefits extension in North Carolina allows awardees the option to receive UI funds past the state’s 12-week limit during a one-year period.

Whether offered on a national or statewide scale, it is Congress’ responsibility to decide when an unemployment extension will become active. However, enrollees must remember these supplementary funds are only available in extreme circumstances when the number of unemployed workers is large and widespread. Therefore, beneficiaries who have neared their three-month UC limit must not depend on an unemployment compensation extension becoming available to support them. Instead, enrollees should devote their efforts to finding alternative work opportunities to help them gain financial independence.

How do I contact the North Carolina unemployment office?

The North Carolina unemployment office is available to answer questions from employers and program participants. While many individuals elect to direct their inquiries to the department via telephone, interested parties also have the option to visit the UI office in person. There are various locations throughout the state, and claimants and former supervisors may choose to utilize the unemployment insurance office closest to them. The Raleigh DES branch can be found at:

700 Wade Avenue

Raleigh, North Carolina 27605


When do I apply for unemployment?

The best time to apply for unemployment is as soon as possible. The state does not recognize the day you became unemployed when applying for benefits. However, the date you apply for benefits will determine when you will receive your first payment. You will not get credit for the time between losing your job and when you first applied for benefits.

What is the North Carolina DES Card?

The North Carolina Division of Employment Security (DES) Debit Card is a simple and secure way to transfer your unemployment benefits to you. You can use this card everywhere that Visa is accepted and at most ATMs. The The North Carolina Division of Employment Security (DES) Debit Card is provided by Bank of America.

Do I need a North Carolina DES Card to receive my benefits?

No. The North Carolina Division of Employment Security (DES) Debit Card is one way of receiving your benefits. However, if you qualify for unemployment, you can also choose to receive your benefits through direct deposit.

When can I withdraw cash from my account after funds are deposited?

Usually, you can withdraw money from your account as soon as it is made available to you. Check with your financial institution to make sure there are no restrictions on your account.

North Carolina Unemployment Office Locations


Department of Commerce 700 Wade Avenue Raleigh, NC 27605 (888) 737-0259 View Website Unemployement Claim File

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