The last year has been especially hard on the economy of the country. The entire country going on lockdown has caused a massive shift in the economy which ended up with many places going out of business and millions of people out of work. Now, if you, unfortunately, were one of those affected by the pandemic then the state unemployment office has got your back for some time. So, here are the North Carolina unemployment benefits and the criteria you should have to become eligible.
Expanded unemployment benefits under the CARES Act
During the current pandemic, the United States Congress has changed the rules regarding the unemployment benefits such that people who used to be unable and ineligible for receiving benefits may be able to do so for now. In December 2020, the CARES Act was expanded and it started to cover the people who were self-employed or worked as freelance contractors.
Currently, the CARES act has also been giving direct cash to deposits to millions of tax-paying Americans. This stimulus package is currently at its third round and payments have already started. If you want to know about your own payment status, check out the IRS “Get my payment” tool.
Here are some aspects of the current stimulus package:
- A direct cash deposit, mail-in check, or a prepaid credit card with an amount of 1400 dollars for every tax-paying individual with income up to 75000 dollars.
- A direct cash deposit, mail-in check, or a prepaid credit card with an amount of 2800 dollars for couples with a collective income of 150000 dollars.
- An additional 1400 dollars per dependent for married couples.
- A partial payment for individuals that are earning 80000 dollars per year.
- A partial payment for couples earning 160000 dollars per year.
- The income will be based on the latest tax returns filed with the IRS.
Here are the benefits that are given by the CARES Act for the unemployed individuals
- The unemployment office gives benefits to individuals for around 39 weeks. The CARES Act extends those benefits by 13 additional weeks.
- An additional 300 dollars benefit to the already given benefits paid from the unemployment office.
Eligibility for the North Carolina Unemployment Benefits
The Division of Employment Security is responsible for looking after and handling the Unemployment Benefits and vets the individuals to see if they are eligible for North Carolina unemployment benefits. They look at these on a case-by-case basis. The individuals who wish to claim these benefits must fulfill these three criterias:
- A minimum earning threshold must have been reached by the applicant which will be determined by examining the base period.
- The Applicant must be unemployed with no fault of his own or not have committed any misconduct in their previous place of Employment.
- The Applicant must fully be able to work and actively look for a job role they can accept at a moment’s notice.
What is the Criteria for the Minimum earning requirements?
Every state that offers unemployment benefits to its citizens has examined the recent work history and the wages they earned during the base period to determine whether they are eligible for unemployment benefits. The base period in the state of North Carolina is defined as the earliest four of the five quarters from the date of the filing of the application. This means that if an individual files an application in December 2020, their base period will be from August 2019 to July 2020.
The base period wages will be examined and here are the wages requirement in the state of North Carolina
- In two out of four quarters in the base period, the applicant must have had some earnings from legitimate means.
- The minimum wage requirement in any one of the last two-quarters of the base period is 790 dollars.
If any of these requirements are not met, then the applicant will be deemed ineligible for receiving unemployment benefits.
Why are you Unemployed?
The unemployment office also determines the reason for your untimely loss of employment. The eligibility criteria for receiving unemployment benefits is that the individual must have lost their job with no fault of their own. Here are some aspects of that.
There are many companies that have gone out of business or have downsized because they no longer can keep many of their staff on payroll. If an applicant was fired from their job because of that then they are eligible for unemployment benefits.
Individuals who were fired from their job also come in two different categories. There may be people who went on to be hired for jobs where they lacked the necessary skill that was required of them or they were not a good fit for the company to begin with. Such employees being fired from their jobs are able to receive unemployment benefits.
However, there are people who were fired purely because it was their own fault. Their actions were frequently going against the interest of their employer and were up against the company’s rule. These people under the employment rules laid down by the state of North Carolina are committing misconduct. Misconducts can be defined as:
- Going against the rules set by the employers on Drugs and alcohol.
- Going to work while being under the influence.
- Fighting and committing physical acts of violence.
- Arrest or conviction for violent or nonviolent crimes that may involve sex or drugs.
- Discriminatory behavior against other employees.
- Theft from the Company.
- Lying on the documents that initially had them employed.
- Not showing up to work and repeat absences.
- Poor performance even after three formal written warnings.
Unemployment Benefits for people who have quit
There are two types of job quitters that are examined by the Division of Employment Security. The first type which they deem ineligible for unemployment benefits is the people who believe that the pay that the company gave them was not enough for the time and work they put in for the job. The second type is the quitters that have a very good reason to quit their job. Some of the reasons that are deemed acceptable are the following.
- Health and safety concerns that the employer frequently ignores.
- Violation of an employment agreement.
- Relocation of a spouse that is serving in the military.
- Escaping domestic abuse and violence.
There are also many other reasons which the division for employment security deems as good reasons however these are also determined on a case by case basis.
Being Available to work and looking for a Job
One of the most important aspects of determining eligibility for your unemployment benefits is that you must actively be looking for employment and must be available to work at a moment’s notice.
You should be willing to accept any job offer that is matching your skill and pay in the initial unemployment benefits period. However once you have completed ten weeks on unemployment benefits, you will be asked to modify your standards, and any job role that pays somewhere around 120 percent of the benefits you receive will be deemed as suitable for you.
The “Looking for a job” aspect is also very important. During the weekly filing process, the Division will ask that you produce where you applied and the outcomes of the applications. An active job search must consist of contacting at least 4 employers per week. You should fully document everything from the day you made the contact and what was the outcome of the job. The contact information of the employers must also be produced which will later be used for verification purposes.
The Amount and Duration of the unemployment benefits in North Carolina
The Division of Employment Security has a system that determines your wages. The system consists of adding the wages earned in the last two-quarters of the base period and that number is divided by 52. The outcome is then matched up to 350 dollars per week. In the state of North Carolina, Unemployment benefits usually last for around 20 weeks however through the CARES act, an additional 13 weeks are added to the total duration.
The Process for Filing for unemployment
The Process of Filing for unemployment is very simple in the state of North Carolina and you can do it using the phone, fax, or online using the website. Once you have made the contact, the Division of Employment Security will send you some documents to fill which must be filed as soon as possible.
Appealing against denial of Unemployment Benefits
There may be cases where your application for Unemployment benefits is not accepted. In cases such as this, you should have about ten days to review that ruling and ask for a “Higher Authority Review”. You must write an application stating why you think that you are eligible for unemployment benefits keeping in light the eligibility criteria.
If the “Higher Authority review” does not decide in your favor then you have about 30 days to make your case in front of the North Carolina Superior Court.