Original Article posted by Haley Walters on GoUpstate.com

The number of unemployment insurance claims has increased 400% in South Carolina, according to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce. On Wednesday alone, the department received more than 4,000 calls about unemployment claims.

Meanwhile, the state has sped up its approval process by one week so people can receive benefits faster, Governor Henry McMaster said Thursday. It has also temporarily lifted a requirement that applicants be actively searching for work.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce is compiling information online for people who have questions about what unemployment benefits are available. The information will be updated as any changes happen.

“We are having ongoing conversations with business associations, business leaders and individual employers on their needs and how we can assist them,” DEW Executive Director Dan Ellzey said.

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The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would bolster unemployment benefits. It was sent to President Donald Trump for his signature, USA Today reported.

Unemployment benefits are available

If a worker loses their job because their employer shuts down or has lay offs due to effects of the coronavirus, the workers who become unemployed may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. The benefits are available for people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

Workers may also qualify for unemployment benefits if their hours are reduced. Anyone who isn’t sure about their eligibility is encouraged to apply.

Employers won’t be charged if an employee receives unemployment benefits because of a coronavirus-related shutdown.

Typically, people who receive unemployment benefits need to prove they’re looking for work each week. That requirement was lifted for claims filed March 15 through April 18.

The deadline for employers to pay first quarter contributions was extended from April 30 to June 1. Wage reports are still due by April 30 so the state can collect data and evaluate workforce needs. Moving the deadline is meant to alleviate cost to employers whose business has slowed or shut down.

What to expect

According to DEW’s website, the first step is to file a claim online for state unemployment benefits.

Within a week you’ll be mailed a document called a Monetary Determination that shows your potential weekly maximum benefit amounts. The maximum amount in South Carolina is $326 before taxes.

You’ll then get a final eligibility decision in the mail.

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