6,500 to lose extended unemployment benefits in April

Staff Report
Published March 19, 2012

About 6,500 South Carolinians will no longer be eligible to receive unemployment checks on April 7 because of changes in federal Extended Benefits program.

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce said the program was being phased out following passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

Each state’s participation in the extended benefits program depends on a series of its monthly unemployment rates being higher than the national level, according to the state agency.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate of 9.3% in January — one percentage point higher than the national average — made it ineligible to continue the extended benefits program because the figure was lower than initially forecast for the month.

A person who files for unemployment is eligible for 20 weeks of benefits from the state. If the individual is still out of work after 20 weeks, he or she can transition to a federal program that adds up to 79 weeks of benefits for a total of 99 weeks.

Additionally, the number of weeks available under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will be reduced until that program ends on Dec. 31, regardless of where a claimant is in the program.

After Jan. 3, 2013, South Carolinians filing for jobless benefits will only be eligible for the 20 weeks of state benefits.

Currently about 80,000 people are in the extended benefits program.

The new law further requires claimants who are moving from state benefits onto the federal program’s first tier and those transitioning to the second federal tier to complete an in-person interview at any of the agency’s SC Works Centers to prove they can’t find work.

Seven other states also lost the extended benefits program.

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