Unemployment benefits aren’t a replacement for your former salary. Instead, the benefits are a percentage of your average salary made in the previous eighteen months of employment. In South Carolina, the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) offers claimants about half of their previous weekly salary as a weekly benefit amount. The DEW’s website also offers a benefit estimator to help you determine a ballpark estimate of what you may receive. Your actual determination comes by mail after you’ve been approved for benefits.
The biggest factor in the amount that unemployment benefits South Carolina pays out is the amount of covered wages you earned during the base period. The base period is the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before you filed for your initial claim. The DEW reviews your covered wages during this period, or wages you received from an employer who pays unemployment taxes, and gives you about half of that average weekly salary as a weekly benefit amount.
Alternate Base Period
Some claimants don’t have enough wages to qualify for benefits during their base period. This can happen if you were previously unemployed, working part time or working as an independent contractor during most of your base period. In these situations, the DEW will allow you to use an alternate base period, which is the last four full calendar quarters before you filed for unemployment benefits. Your unemployment pay will be about half of the average weekly salary during this time.
Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount
Even if your base period wages make you eligible for more, South Carolina unemployment benefits are limited to $326 per week as of February 2011. This figure is based on what the average worker in the state earned through covered employment and what he would be eligible for in unemployment payments. Since the labor statistics can vary from year to year, so can the maximum unemployment benefit amount. Check with the DEW for the most current limitations to your benefits.
Using the Benefit Calculator
The DEW offers a benefit estimator on its website to help you get an idea of what your unemployment pay might be. Enter your qualifying wages for each base period in the fields provided and click the link below to display an estimate of your weekly unemployment pay. However, this is just an estimate based on the information you provide. Your actual notice of determination is the final word on what your benefit payments will be as it is the result of the DEW’s investigation.
Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.