What's the status of your benefits? Here's the latest from the NC unemployment office

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Many of you have been asking questions related to unemployment insurance benefits in North Carolina.

Nearly 500,000 state residents have filed for financial assistance as a result of the economic collapse related to the coronavirus. The recently-passed CARES Act by Congress just issued guidance to North Carolina on additional benefits to many who are out of work.

North Carolina will roll out these programs in the following order:

April 17: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation or FPUC. Per the Division of Employment Security, this program provides an additional $600 in weekly unemployment insurance benefits to eligible people who file a claim. DES is testing this benefit now with financial assistance to begin being paid out on April 17.

On or around April 25: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA. This program provides unemployment compensation for people not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, such as independent contractors and self-employed workers, and those who have exhausted any extensions to unemployment insurance.

DES estimates claims an April 25 for the website to beginning accepting PUA claims.

To be announced: Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC. This program provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits for people who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits. When a timeline for PEUC is available, the Division of Employment Security will make an announcement.

Governor Roy Cooper announced a new executive order Thursday that makes some changes to the unemployment process. Cooper said the order will make it easier for employers to file a batch of claims on behalf of their employees. This is called an "attached claims" process and state officials believe it will help "eliminate hurdles" that are keeping people from getting approved.

According to the employment department, 497,000 unemployment claims have been accepted so far.

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.

What is the current maximum benefit amount?
Benefits remain at a maximum of $350.00/week for 12 weeks.

What effect do vacation and severance weeks have on eligibility for benefits?
Any worker who receives severance pay is considered to be attached to that employer's payroll during that time and not eligible for UI benefits.

Paid Time Off (Vacation and/or Sick Pay) will not be considered separation pay if the payment was issued as a result of the employer's written policy established prior to your separation. Workers receiving Paid Time Off (Vacation and/or Sick Pay) under these conditions will not be disqualified from receiving benefits.

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.

Financial information during the coronavirus pandemic: Unemployment, stimulus bill, loan information and more

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 does "pending resolution" mean?
That means the employment office is waiting to hear from your employer. By law, employers have a 10-day period to respond first. No payments are made during this period. If they don't respond, and you've selected "Coronavirus" as the reason for separation, the system will automatically adjudicate the issue.

If all requirements are met, benefits will be paid, as long as you're completing your weekly certifications. Weekly certifications will be paid retroactively.

The employer will be notified of this determination of benefits by mail. If the employer feels the claim is not valid, they may appeal the determination.

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.

Here's how you can file your claim.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.