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South Carolina Unemployment Benefits

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South Carolina unemployment provides in-state workers with temporary financial relief while they are between jobs. Eligible applicants are without work due to circumstances they could not control and are able to utilize these funds to support themselves and their families. Unemployment Insurance (UI), also referred to as unemployment compensation (UC), is not a permanent solution to job loss. However, qualified petitioners may leverage these financial benefits to support themselves while they search for new work opportunities.

The unemployment insurance benefits program is supervised by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). This department is also responsible for establishing the state’s eligibility for unemployment requirements and for evaluating and processing all UC claims. The subsections below explain how petitioners may claim unemployment benefits in SC and covers the information applicants must supply in their materials. Additional sections describe how enrollees can file weekly claims and what steps petitioners can take if their applications are denied.

What is unemployment in South Carolina?

Unemployment insurance coverage in South Carolina is available to petitioners who meet the state’s enrollment requirements. These stipulations relate to various factors of the applicants’ candidacy, such as the reasons why they are unemployed and their recent financial income. To maintain an active unemployment claim, enrollees are tasked with making consistent reemployment efforts and contacting various hiring managers each week.

Unemployment is only offered on a short-term basis. As a result, the state enforces these requirements because they help ensure beneficiaries will be able to support themselves when they exhaust their funds. The state also imposes limits on how long enrollees may receive unemployment insurance benefits during a single calendar year. In SC, this enrollment limit is set at 20 weeks. The DEW also limits the amount of funds beneficiaries can receive per week. The maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA) that claimants may receive is $326.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in South Carolina?

To determine eligibility for unemployment in South Carolina, the DEW takes into account two categories of factors. The first set of requirements are situational. These situational prerequisites are as follows:

  • Petitioners must be unemployed. Qualifications for unemployment in SC include that petitioners must be fully or partially jobless to receive UI funds. Candidates must be completely without work, or they must be working reduced schedules.
  • Claimants must be unemployed by no fault of their own. To receive UC, petitioners may not be responsible for their job losses. In many cases, UI recipients are out of work because their employers closed or because they were laid off due to work shortages. However, candidates who quit because they do not get along with their supervisors or because they were fired for misconduct will not qualify for program benefits.
  • Applicants must be available to work. The DEW requires that UC enrollees be available to work full-time jobs, should they be offered suitable opportunities. Therefore, candidates must have schedules that permit them to work during standard business hours for their fields. As a result, enrollees who do not have access to reliable transportation or who have child care or adult care responsibilities at home will not qualify to receive funds.

Unemployment insurance eligibility requirements also address financial aspects of petitioners’ candidacy as well. To assess applicants’ qualifications in this regard, the DEW examines how much income petitioners earned during their base periods. Base periods consist of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters that immediately preceded when claimants applied for UC. When determining who qualifies for unemployment in South Carolina, the DEW must ensure that claimants:

  • Earned at least $1,092 in covered employment during their highest earning base period quarter. Covered employment means that claimants were working for companies or individuals who paid UI taxes.
  • Earned wages totaling at least $4,455 throughout their base periods. This income must also have come through covered employment opportunities.
  • Possess total base period wages that total or equal 1.5 times what they earned during their highest base period quarter.

How can I sign up for unemployment in South Carolina?

Candidates must know how to apply for unemployment online in South Carolina to complete the application process successfully. The process is straightforward and candidates must submit basic information, such as Social Security Numbers, to apply. When submitting the online application for unemployment, petitioners must also produce the following information:

  • Work history: All applicants must provide summaries of their work history for the past two years.
  • Direct deposit information: When petitioners apply for unemployment benefits, candidates who would like to receive their UC reimbursement via direct deposit must submit their bank routing and account numbers.
  • Non-citizen validation: Foreign-born applicants are obligated to disclose their alien registration numbers and the expiration dates that are printed on their Employment Authorization Documents.

In addition, specific candidates who file for unemployment must provide supplementary information. For example, federal employees are required to submit either the SF-50 or SF-8 and pay stubs. Similarly, military service members must provide the Member-4 copy of DD Form 214.

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

Petitioners may need to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in South Carolina after submitting their application materials. These conversations are necessary for a variety of reasons. First, the DEW may request an unemployment phone interview with candidates who left portions of their applications unanswered. Similarly, the DEW may require an unemployment interview with the claimant if he or she provided any answers that were incomplete or confusing.

Secondly, the department may require a fact-finding UI phone interview with applicants if the state has any questions regarding the circumstances that led to the claimants’ unemployment. It is very common for these conversations to be scheduled for this reason. In either instance, the questions asked during the unemployment interview are straightforward and relate directly to candidates’ eligibility for UC. In The DEW may also need to conduct an unemployment insurance interview with the employer petitioners recently worked for in some circumstances. However, applicants must remember these conversations always take place separately from the candidates’ UI interviews.

To prepare for the unemployment insurance interview, claimants must be ready to answer questions regarding why they are unemployed. Furthermore, the department representatives are only interested in hearing facts relating to petitioners’ cases. As a result, candidates must avoid answering the DEW representatives’ questions with opinions or emotionally charged statements. To refrain, claimants should prepare any documentation that factually supports their arguments.

Examples of information applicants should have ready for their UI phone interview includes:

  • Written warnings from their supervisors or human resources officials.
  • The contracts they signed when taking the job.
  • Their employee manuals with relevant office rules and policies highlighted.
  • Emails the candidates sent to their employers that attempted to address workplace issues.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in South Carolina?

To claim unemployment benefits in South Carolina, enrollees must submit weekly claims to the DEW. Beneficiaries have the option to file their materials either online or over the phone. In either case, petitioners must answer a series of questions relating to the following topics:

  • Whether or not they worked: Enrollees are obligated to disclose whether or not they worked during the weeks they are claiming benefits. This proves to the DEW whether or not candidates are earning income during their enrollment weeks.
  • Income earned: Along with reporting whether or not they worked, candidates must disclose if they earned any income during their UC weeks. Beneficiaries are obligated to record exact dollar amounts that constitute their gross earnings, as well as any non-monetary compensation they received. This could include discounts, meal stipends or free or reduced cost housing.
  • Work availability: Petitioners must attest that they were available to work during the weeks they are claiming. If enrollees were sick or had extraneous scheduling conflicts, they must report this information as well.

Enrollees who are claiming benefits for unemployment in SC are also responsible to report their weekly work search efforts. Since UC is a temporary program, this requirement is in place to ensure claimants are actively looking to support themselves. As a result, beneficiaries are less likely to be jobless once they exhaust their UI benefits. To maintain their unemployment benefits claim, candidates are obligated to complete two work searches via the SC Works Online Services (SCWOS). Petitioners must also keep detailed accounts of their reemployment inquiries. If the DEW audits their accounts, enrollees who maintain accurate records are less likely to encounter eligibility issues later on.

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

Claimants who are denied unemployment by the DEW have the legal right to appeal these decisions. This entitlement is also extended to employers if they receive decisions they disagree with regarding their UC petitions. The SC denied unemployment benefits notifications that enrollees receive provide deadlines for filing appeals. These dates are important because failing to file an unemployment denial appeal by its corresponding deadline may result in parties forfeiting their right to request redeterminations. Legally, these appeal deadlines are set 10 calendar days from when the determinations were mailed.

To file a denied UI appeal, petitioners must either complete and submit a Notice of Appeal to the Appeal Tribunal Form or write a letter of appeal to the DEW appeal tribunal. Regardless of how applicants elect to file their appeals, they must be sure to include their names and Social Security Numbers in their requests.

At least seven days before the UI denial appeal hearing is set to take place, the appeal tribunal will mail a letter to employers and claimants. These documents include information relating to when and where the hearings will take place. The majority of denied unemployment benefits hearings are conducted via phone. Furthermore, these documents also outline the issues that the administrative hearing officers address throughout these trials. As a result, petitioners may prepare for their hearings by gathering evidence and testimonies that support their arguments regarding these points. Some claimants may also prepare for these hearings by arranging to have legal representation support them during their trials but this is not a requirement.

After the denied UC hearings conclude, the administrative hearing officers mail petitioners and their former supervisors the determinations. If either party disagrees with these decisions, they have the right to appeal again. However, these second appeals must be directed to the appellate panel.

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

An active federal unemployment extension in South Carolina is not usually commonplace within the state. As is the case in other parts of the country, an unemployment benefits extension is only available during periods when there are extreme numbers of unemployed workers in a state. In some instances, however, an unemployment extension may also be offered on a national scale. Regardless of where the extensions are offered, this type of relief is rare. It is Congress’s role to grant an unemployment compensation extension in any portion of the United States and during normal circumstances, they are not necessary.

When a federal UI extension is offered, however, candidates are permitted to receive UC benefits beyond the state’s 20-week limit. Nevertheless, it is impossible to predict when these allowances will become available. Therefore, enrollees whose UC claims are about to expire for the year should search for alternative relief methods besides the UI extension.

How do I contact the South Carolina unemployment office?

There are South Carolina unemployment offices located in various cities throughout the state. Petitioners or employers with specific questions regarding their cases must direct their inquiries to these locations. Individuals have the option of contacting the UI benefits office either in-person or over the phone. The department offers a toll-free phone number that applicants and supervisors may call. However, program participants who live near one of these office locations can visit in person and ask their questions. The Department of Employment and Workforce unemployment insurance office in Columbia is located at:

1550 Gadsden Street

Columbia, South Carolina 29201


When should I file an unemployment claim in South Carolina?

No matter what state you are in, it is always in your best interest to file for unemployment as soon as possible. The sooner you file your application, the sooner you will receive your benefits if you qualify. The state does not recognize the time between the day you lost your job and the day you file your claim when considering your benefits.

How much will I receive if I qualify for unemployment in South Carolina?

The amount of unemployment benefits you receive is directly related to the income from your last employer. The maximum amount of unemployment benefits given in South Carolina is $326 each week.

What is a waiting week?

When individuals apply for unemployment benefits, they typically need to wait a few weeks in order to receive their first payment. Although you may receive back payments for certain weeks, the week following the day you apply for benefits is typically known as the waiting week. The waiting week is usually not a paid week.

South Carolina Unemployment Office Locations


Department of Employment and Workforce 1550 Gadsden St Columbia, SC 29201 (803) 737-2400 View Website Unemployement Claim File

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