South Carolina Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Get details regarding unemployment insurance benefits in South Carolina, DEW eligibility requirements, how to file an unemployment insurance claim and other related topics.

Unemployment insurance is a temporary program for individuals who have lost their job through no fault or blame of their own. The goal of the program is to help ease the gap between unemployment and re-employment. It is not designed to replace earnings from a job altogether and, if you qualify for benefits, you are required to accept any suitable offer of work that may present itself.

In the state of South Carolina, unemployment insurance is provided by the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). Read on to learn more about unemployment benefits in South Carolina, including eligibility requirements and how much you can get on unemployment in the state.

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in South Carolina?

The Base Period

In the state of South Carolina, the base period is defined as the wages you earned during one year of employment. Your base period wages will most likely determine your eligibility to receive unemployment benefits. However, if you cannot qualify under the standard base period, the state may apply an alternate base period if it demonstrates a greater possibility of approval. 

What Are the Financial Requirements?

To be financially eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in South Carolina, you must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Your employer must have covered at least $1,092 in unemployment insurance taxes during your base period's highest quarter
  2. You must have earned a bare minimum of $4,450 over the course of the base period
  3. You must have a collective total of base period wages that exceed (or are at least equal to) 1.5 times the highest quarter's wage total 

Other Requirements

Additionally, in order to become and remain eligible for unemployment benefits in South Carolina, you must:

  1. Not be at direct fault for your unemployment
  2. Report any income you may earn during the week of filing your claim
  3. Have the time and physical health to be able to work again
  4. Continue actively seeking new employment opportunities
  5. Accept any suitable offer of work you may receive

How Do You Apply for South Carolina Unemployment Benefits?

Follow these instructions to submit an initial claim for the DEW to review and determine if your circumstances meet the qualification criteria for unemployment insurance.

  • Have all of the necessary personal information handy before you begin. This includes your Social Security number and 18 months of work history, including details such as employers' names, addresses and contact information and your wages.
  • Create your MyBenefits Portal account. Initial claims are filed through the MyBenefits Portal. 
  • File your claim. Take care to double check all of your personal and contact information in your file before submitting it. 
  • Continue to file your weekly claim following your initial claim. Be sure to include updates to your job search and new work-related contacts you've made. 
  • Complete at least two weekly job searches. You must be able to report on your progress in finding new work weekly in order to remain eligible for benefits.

How Much Do You Get From South Carolina Unemployment?

By applying for benefits, you establish an active unemployment account with the DEW for 52 weeks. This period is known in most states as a "benefit year." You may receive benefits at any time throughout your benefit year, provided you continue to meet eligibility requirements until either:

  • Your benefit year expires
  • You receive the maximum benefit amount assigned to your claim

If you are approved for unemployment insurance, the weekly benefit amount (WBA) is the amount you will be paid each week are you found eligible to receive unemployment benefits. The weekly benefit amount in South Carolina ranges from a weekly minimum of $42 to a maximum of $326, before taxes. 

South Carolina will also bestow a $500 bonus payment to benefit recipients who earn their GED by June 1, 2022. 

How South Carolina Calculates Unemployment

Your weekly benefit amount is calculated by dividing the sum of your average weekly wages during the highest earning quarter of your base period by 26 and then rounding down to the next whole dollar. For example, if you earned a weekly average of $1500 during your base period's highest quarter, $1500 divided by 26 equals roughly $57.69, so your weekly benefits would amount to $57. 

Stopping Unemployment Insurance Benefits Once You Are Re-employed

Once you are re-employed and earning more than your WBA, you must end your benefits. To do this, simply stop filing your weekly claims.

If you find a new job but are still making less than your weekly benefit amount, you may still qualify for unemployment insurance; however, you must continue to report your earnings on a weekly basis in order to prevent obtaining benefits fraudulently. 

Similarly to reporting your job-seeking activities, keeping accurate wages of all your earnings to report to the DEW is your responsibility. If the DEW finds that you have been overpaid for benefits, you will receive an overpayment notice. Additionally, the DEW will find a way to balance your outstanding debt, including wage garnishing or withholding and intercepting state and federal tax returns. 

What Happens If Unemployment Claims in South Carolina Are Denied?

Applicants are denied benefits for a myriad of reasons; even if you meet all eligibility requirements, that doesn't necessarily guarantee that you will be approved for unemployment insurance. If you are denied, you have the right to file an unemployment denial appeal with the DEW. You can do this by filling out the form found on the DEW's appeals web page. Consider including a brief statement explaining your justification for appealing. 

Once your appeal is processed, you will receive a Notice of Hearing informing you of the date, time and place of your appeals hearing. In the meantime, you must continue to certify your claim on a weekly basis leading up to your hearing, as well as present new information regarding your job search. 

At your hearing, you will be able to defend your argument as to why the hearing officer should reconsider the DEW's initial decision. You may present testimony, witnesses and evidence of any kind you so choose. You also have a right to legal representation at this hearing. 

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