COLUMBIA, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SC DEW) announced Friday that South Carolina was among one of the first states to not only implement the federal CARES Act, but also one of the first to pay out the weekly $600 afforded under the act to help those facing unemployment amidst the pandemic.
The agency says they've already paid out $67.5 million in regular unemployment insurance benefits since the claim week beginning March 21, and have paid out a total of $105.1 million of the CARES Act benefits thus far. SC DEW say they anticipate they'll be able to accept applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) by claim week ending April 25. The agency also notes to date, no other state has implemented or paid out the PUA funding, which applies to self-employed individuals, 1099 filers, gig workers, or those who don't qualify for regular unemployment insurance.
SC DEW notes the PEUC program, a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance benefits, will be the last program rolled out in the coming weeks and will extend that benefit for those who've already exhausted the standard 20 weeks.
The agency also says they've added more staff members to handle phone lines and expect that workforce to hit 500 representatives by next week. SC DEW also has a ChatBot on their website to help find information online. Just visit the website and click the text-bubble icon.
SC DEW says call center staff has helped 62,000 people on the phone in a five-day period, starting on April 10 and continuing from April 13 through April 16.
More information can also be found on the agency's YouTube page.