The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina



Are you a young person looking for part-time or summer work? Explore the Youth Employment Site!

Applying for Benefits

Before you Apply

Your first step is to submit an initial claim in order for DEW to determine if your circumstances meet the eligibility requirements of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program. Filing a claim is the only way for eligibility to be determined.

In order to become eligible and remain eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, you must:

  1. Have lost your job through no fault of your own.
  2. Report any income earned during a claim week.
  3. Continue to actively search for work.
  4. Be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work during a claim week.
  5. Accept any suitable offer of work you receive. 

Unemployment Insurance is a temporary program to ease the gap between unemployment and reemployment. It is not meant to replace earnings from a job. If you receive a job referral from our agency you must contact the employer, and you must accept any suitable offer of work. If you do not, you may disqualify yourself from UI and your benefits will be turned off.

Filing your claim will go faster if you have the following important information handy:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your work history for the past 18 months including:
    • Employers’ business names,
    • Employers’ addresses,
    • Employers’ phone numbers and
    • Your salary for each employer
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, your alien registration number and documentation.
  • If you served in the military in the past 18 months, DD-214 Form (Member 4 copy).
  • If you are a federal civilian employee, SF-50 (PDF) or SF-8 (PDF) Form.
  • If you are filing from out-of-state, see “how to file an out of state claim”.
    • Remember: You apply for Unemployment Insurance where your employer resides or where wages are earned and NOT where you have residence

Initial claims are filed online through the MyBenefits portal. Use our guides to learn more about using the portal. If you need further assistance call our toll-free number 1-866-831-1724 | Relay 711.

Step 2: File a New Claim

Watch the File a New Claim Video on this page for instructions.

File a New Claim Instructions (PDF)

Before any benefits can be paid, an unpaid waiting period equivalent to one full week of unemployment benefits must be served. This requirement was waived by DEW in March 2020 due to the pandemic, however, the expiration of the state of emergency in June 2021 results in the waiting week being reinstated. Effective claim week ending June 19, 2021, claimants will be required to serve the unpaid waiting period.

Step 3: File Your Weekly Claim

Watch the File Your Weekly Claim Video on this page for instructions.

Weekly Certifications Instructions (PDF)


Step 4: Complete Two Weekly Job Searches in SCWOS

As of April 18, 2021, claimants are required to complete two weekly job searches in SCWOS (SC Works Online Services). Claimants are required to complete this each week, by law, in order to remain eligible for UI benefits.

SCWOS Weekly Job Searches PDF Tutorial | (Español) (PDF)

Don’t have a SCWOS account? Register with SCWOS Video Tutorial

Stopping UI Benefits Once You're Re-Employed

When you become re-employed and earn more than your weekly benefit amount, you must end benefits.

Ending benefits is easy. Simply stop filing weekly claims. You may still be eligible for benefits if you are making less than your weekly benefit amount. Always report your weekly wages to ensure you are not obtaining benefits illegally. Unsure of what earnings to report weekly?

Check out the Earnings Worksheet (PDF)

Need to know: It is your responsibility to report all wages earned and keep accurate records.  DEW routinely audits weekly claims and if you are found to be overpaid for benefits, you will receive an overpayment notice. DEW employs several measures to recoup the outstanding debt, including wage withholding, intercepting state income tax returns and intercepting federal income tax returns.

Benefit Year

When you apply for unemployment benefits, you establish an active unemployment account for 52 weeks. These 12 months (which may be different than a calendar year) are referred to as a benefit year. You may receive benefits during the benefit year, provided you meet all eligibility requirements until your benefit year expires or you receive the total maximum benefit amount assigned to your claim, whichever comes first.

If you exhaust all of the available state and/or federal programs there are no additional benefits available to you within that benefit year. It's important to understand, benefits will not automatically be available in a new benefit year. Under current law, in order to be eligible for UI benefits again, you must meet the following requirements:

✔️ You must earn at least eight (8) times your weekly benefit amount, from a new employer who pays into the UI Trust Fund.

✔️ You must be laid off by no fault of your own (meaning you didn't quit or were fired).

✔️ And, you must re-apply for benefits, but only after you meet the above requirements and after your benefit year has ended.

Did your employer file for you?

If your employer filed for unemployment benefits on your behalf, please review the Employer Filed Claims (PDF) flyer. To learn what you have to do to ensure you receive benefits, read Employer Filed Claims (PDF).