Here's what the NC unemployment office says it's doing to deal with the spike in claims

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- About 370,000 North Carolinians have filed for unemployment insurance assistance since March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That spike in filings has led to high demand at the North Carolina Division of Employment Security and it's created issues for people trying to apply.

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People have reported problems with the website crashing and high call volumes that lead to being on hold for hours.

To deal with those issues, the unemployment office provided a list of changes it's making, including:

  • Hiring 50 new staff
  • Adding 100 staff from Division of Workforce Solutions Career Centers
  • Contracting with an additional 200-person call center
  • Adding computer servers to ensure capacity for large number of people filing online
  • Doubling printing and mail capacity to ensure timely delivery of documents
  • Purchasing more than 500 new computers and other equipment so employees in the office and at home can work to process claims.




Last Saturday, Governor Roy Cooper authorized the department to implement three federal unemployment programs.

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The first provides an additional $600 in weekly benefits.

The second provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits.

The third is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which is assistance for people who are not typically eligible for state unemployment benefits. This should provide coverage to self-employed workers or independent contractors. DES says it is awaiting final guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor in order to make that federal assistance available.

As of April 3, DES has sent out more than $10 million in unemployment benefits for claims related to COVID-19.

It can take approximately 14 days from the time a person files a claim to receive their first payment.

MORE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:


What do I need to file a claim?
Your Social Security Number, Information about your most recent employment and pay, Work history for the last two years, Bank routing and account numbers for Direct Deposit. TIP: If you are filing due to COVID-19, select 'coronavirus' as your reason for separation.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits if I become seriously ill and I am forced to quit my job as a result of COVID-19?
When filing for unemployment insurance, an employee must provide information about their decision to leave the job. In order to determine eligibility, you must first apply for unemployment.

How soon will individuals receive unemployment insurance benefits?
Individuals filing for benefits as a direct result of COVID-19 will automatically have their waiting week for benefits waived; however, your last employer will be given 10 days from the time you file your initial claim to provide separation information to DES. No payments will be released until after that that 10-day period.

Do I have to search for work while filing for unemployment?
If you are out of work as a result of COVID-19, you do not have to conduct a work search while filing for unemployment.

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What if I am temporarily laid off work because business has slowed down as a result of COVID-19?
If you are laid off work temporarily or if your hours are reduced due to a business slowdown or a lack of demand as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits. In order to determine eligibility, you must first apply for unemployment. If you're temporarily out of work or working reduced hours due to COVID-19, select one of those two separation reasons when filing your claim.

What if my employer goes out of business as a result of COVID-19?
You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you're laid off. If you're out of work due to COVID-19, indicate that while filing your claim.

Are independent contractors eligible for unemployment insurance?
Independent contractors and self-employed workers are not typically eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. However, these individuals may qualify for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance available as a result of COVID-19. The Division of Employment Security is awaiting guidance from the federal government to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Check des.nc.govfor updates.

My employer has shut down operations temporarily because an employee is sick, and we have been directed to be isolated or in quarantine as a result of COVID-19. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?
If you are not receiving payment from your employer, such as paid sick leave or paid time off, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits during this time. If you are laid off work temporarily or if your hours are reduced due to a business slowdown or a lack of demand as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits. In order to determine eligibility, you must first apply for unemployment. If you're temporarily out of work or working reduced hours due to COVID-19, select one of those two separation reasons when filing your claim.

What if I need to take time off work because I contract COVID-19?
The first and best option for employees who need to miss work due to illness is to use their employer-paid time off. More information about paid time off here.

What if I am directed by a medical professional or public health official to quarantine as a result of COVID-19, but I am not sick?
If your employer is not offering paid time off, you should apply for unemployment insurance. If you are laid off work temporarily or if your hours are reduced due to a business slowdown or a lack of demand as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits. In order to determine eligibility, you must first apply for unemployment. If you're temporarily out of work or working reduced hours due to COVID-19, please select one of those two separation reasons when filing your claim.

I am a part-time employee. Am I eligible for unemployment?
Anyone can file for unemployment insurance. In order to determine eligibility, you must first apply for unemployment. If you're temporarily out of work or working reduced hours due to COVID-19, select one of those two separation reasons when filing your claim.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits if I become seriously ill and I am forced to quit my job as a result of COVID-19?
When filing for unemployment insurance, an employee must provide information about their decision to leave the job. In order to determine eligibility, you must first apply for unemployment.

I'm having trouble signing into my online account.
If you are experiencing issues with the password or PIN for your online account, email NCDESpasswordhelp@nccommerce.com for assistance.
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