COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolinians receiving unemployment benefits will have to take another step this week to ensure those benefits make it through.
The SC Department of Employment and Workforce brought back its requirement that recipients complete two job searches through the SC Works system beginning Sunday, April 18.
Recipients will need to create a profile with SC works and complete two searches weekly before each Saturday to ensure their benefits continue.
This can be done with the SC Works website or the SCWOS app (which is free).
The searches do not require applications or interviews, and there are exceptions.
- Being diagnosed with COVID-19
- Quarantining as a result of COVID-19
- Caring for someone as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
The department created a PDF to walk recipients through the search process.
Additionally, it also created a video to assist recipients.
The job search requirement was put on pause during the pandemic.
DEW Spokesperson Heather Biance said the department decided to bring the requirement back as the economic situation of the state improved.
“The reality is these federal programs will at some point go away, and we just don’t people to be caught off guard where at that point the unemployment goes away, and they’re without a job,” she said.
The return of the requirement has been met with criticism.
Sumter resident DeDe Wylie said her mother lacks a computer, and the DEW website/customer service has unhelpful. She said it’s another hoop in a process that is already a challenge.
“You get frustrated and you’re going to get frustrated, you can’t get help and you’re going to give up. Well that’s going to kick you off the system and you’re going to quit getting assistance, and that’s not fair,” she said.
Wylie’s frustrations are echoed by SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Director Sue Berkowitz.
Berkowitz has been outspoken on unemployment benefit issues in the past and is concerned this will compound them.
“This morning I received I believe 10 or 12 emails from people who are already stuck in the system, that has nothing to do with whether or not they’ve completed the job search. This is being stuck in the system from all the other problems from the last number of weeks,” she said.
Biance said there are resources online for those with questions, additionally, there are resources over the phone.
“There are 49 SC Works centers across the state, so the likelihood is there is one close to folks. We would encourage them to reach out and call their local SC works center to see what services they can get their help from. Whether that’s a literacy program or whether that’s something that walks them through that work search requirement,” she said.
DEW reports that 116,159 claimants were paid the week ending on April 10.