Since the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program’s launch on April 24, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce announced it has released more than $4.6 million in federal assistance to eligible claimants.
This program is for anyone who was ineligible for normal unemployment insurance such as those who are self-employed, 1099 contractors or were found to be monetarily ineligible.
“My promise to South Carolina is that our staff is working around the clock to serve, and we are committed to these relief efforts until our communities can begin to reengage in employment and find a sense of normalcy,” said DEW chief of staff Jamie Suber. “We keep hearing the word ‘unprecedented,’ but truthfully that word doesn’t truly paint a picture of what our state is experiencing right now. Our agency and our dedicated staff is rising to the challenge, and we assure you we will see this through.”
In addition to the funding released, DEW is extending call center hours to support the anticipated spike in call volume. Their new hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Starting on May 2, the call center will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday.
“We know due to the massive call volumes we’ve been experiencing over the past weeks that not everyone is getting through to us on the phones, and we know there are frustrations because of that,” Suber said. “We continue to respond to that demand by training and adding staff to the phones each week, but simultaneously, our agency has continued to create resources designed to help you through this process. We would encourage people to utilize those resources or log back into the claims portal to check their status before calling. Allow individuals who have specific claim problems to talk with staff to help them resolve issues that might delay their benefits.”
DEW is encouraging individuals who have not returned to their portal to file for PUA to do so now. The agency is also inviting those in the state who have yet to file a claim to begin the process.
The federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program has provided an additional $600 to weekly benefits for the state’s unemployment insurance program’s eligible individuals. Since the COVID-19 crisis began five weeks ago, DEW has paid more than $378 million in state unemployment insurance benefits along with the CARES Act’s $600 contributions.
The next federal program from the CARES Act will provide 13 additional weeks of state unemployment insurance benefits after the 20 weeks provided by South Carolina law is exhausted.
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