Published Jan. 10, 2013
Federal unemployment benefits will continue for thousands of South Carolinians following Congress’ vote to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for one year, the state Department of Employment and Workforce said.
However, due to an improving economy and lower unemployment rate, South Carolina has “triggered off” Tier Four in the benefits program, which covers long-termed unemployed.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the three-month average unemployment rate for the state fell below the 9% threshold needed to continue the state’s eligibility in the Tier Four program.
As a result, the maximum potential to receive federal unemployment benefits will decrease from 37 weeks to 29 weeks. In South Carolina, the maximum potential to receive state benefits is 20 weeks.
Claimants who exhaust Tier Three benefits either on or before Jan. 12 will be allowed to move to and complete Tier Four of the program. But claimants who do not exhaust Tier Three benefits until after Jan. 12 will not be eligible for additional benefits.
The agency estimates about 800 people will be able to move to Tier Four benefits because they meet the Jan. 12 deadline.
Claimants currently in the Tier Four program will be able to finish out any remaining weeks of eligibility.
At the end of 2012, about 29,000 people were receiving unemployment benefits.
Claimants are eligible to receive up to $326 a week in benefits. In South Carolina, the average check is $232 a week.