Unemployment benefits now available in SC for self-employed, gig workers, others out of work due to COVID-19

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Unemployment benefits are now available in South Carolina for people who do not qualify for standard unemployment.

Those affected, which include the self-employed, gig workers, contractors, 1099s and others, can now get benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

The Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) has incorporated the federal PUA program into its own.

Applicants will go through DEW to receive the PUA benefits.

People who already applied for unemployment through DEW but were not previously eligible have been emailed with this new information, DEW said.

Those who are eligible for PUA, which is 100% federally funded, will get a weekly benefit as well as the extra $600 a week through the CARES Act.

Benefits will date back to Feb. 8 and people will be retroactively paid for any time they were without work after that date, DEW said.

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PUA covers the self-employed and gig workers, as previously mentioned, but it also covers people who lost their job or are unable to work because of the following reasons:

  • They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • A member of their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • They are providing care for a family member or a member of their household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • They are the primary caregiver for a child who is unable to attend school or daycare because the school or daycare has closed due to COVID-19, and the school or daycare is necessary for them to work;
  • They are unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • They are unable to reach the place of employment because a healthcare provider has advised them to selfquarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  • They were scheduled to start employment and could not or are unable to reach the new job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • They have become the breadwinner or major support for their household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • Their place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.

DEW said it expects to be able to pay out PUA benefits in seven to 14 days, but that some claims may take more time.

Officials said those who complete a PUA application will be contacted if something needs to be clarified. They urge people to not call.

DEW says since the COVID-19 outbreak hit South Carolina in March, the agency has paid out more than $378 million in unemployment benefits, including the $600 CARES Act benefit.

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