Unemployment Insurance and Benefits

COVID-19 has created a large demand for unemployment insurance benefits for employees. The North Carolina Division of Employment Security is the agency in charge of both state and federal unemployment benefits. Below is information about how to apply for assistance, and for answers to other frequently asked questions.

Filing for Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The Division of Employment Security’s website is the fastest and most efficient way to file a new claim. Visit their site to create an account and begin the application process.  

NEW! Lost Wages Assistance Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the North Carolina Division of Employment Security’s application for $300 per beneficiary grant funding for the Lost Wages Assistance program (LWA) on Aug. 21, 2020. DES has been working to reprogram its benefits system and set up the accounting process to make payments to eligible North Carolinians as quickly as possible. Updates on a timeline for payments will be provided as more information is available.

The following eligibility requirements must be met for a person to receive the $300 in LWA:

  • The claimant must be eligible for at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits from programs including state unemployment insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Extended Benefits.
  • The claimant must be unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Initial funding will allow eligible North Carolinians to receive LWA for the benefit weeks ending Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15, 2020.

Click Here for More Information

Federal Unemployment Assistance

The Division of Employment Security has received official guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on how to carry out the three unemployment programs of the federal CARES Act. The agency is now working to quickly adjust their systems to ensure people receive proper and accurate payments. Applicants who are owed any benefits before these programs are carried out will be paid afterward.

DES intends to implement the programs in the following order.

  1. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): This program has ended. Under current law, the last Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits were paid for the week ending July 25. FPUC was the federal CARES Act program that provided an extra $600 on top of a person’s weekly unemployment benefit amount. 
  2. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): This program provides unemployment payments for those not eligible for regular unemployment insurance or any extensions to unemployment insurance. This will provide benefits to eligible self-employed workers and independent contractors. We anticipate the system will be ready to accept claims for this assistance around April 25, 2020.
  3. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): This program provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits for those who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits. A definitive timeline for completing system updates for this program is not yet available.

Visit the North Carolina Employment Security Division’s Federal Unemployment Assistance page to learn more.  

Unemployment Benefits Visual

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Frequently Asked Questions

The North Carolina Division of Employment Security has put together the following FAQ’s related to COVID-19 and insurance benefit changes.

FAQs for Individuals Filing for Unemployment

FAQs for Employers

Unemployment Benefits Due to COVID-19 Tip Sheet 

Changes to Unemployment Insurance

On March 17 Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 118, making unemployment insurance benefits more widely available. According to the Division of Employment Security, the following changes are now in effect for all those eligible for benefits due to COVID-19:

Waiting Period. Normally, payment will not be received for the first week of the unemployment claim —this is the one-week waiting period. The one-week waiting period is waived for people filing as a direct result of COVID-19.

Note: After you file your claim, your last employer is given, by law, 10 days to respond to DES about your claim. No payment will be released until after this 10-day period. If there are no issues with a claim, you will typically receive payment within about 14 days of filing your initial claim.

Work Search Requirements. Executive Order 118 allows some requirements to be waived for people filing for unemployment due to COVID-19. If you are filing due to COVID-19, you may answer ‘yes’ to the following question on the Weekly Certification: ‘Did you look for work?’

Note: Requirements for performing a work search and being able and available for work are still in effect for those filing for unemployment due to reasons other than COVID-19.  

No charges will be assessed to an employer’s account for any benefits paid as a direct result of COVID-19.

Read the Full Executive Order 

NC Works Career Center

The NC Works Career Center in Durham is currently closed to the public. However, residents can still access resources virtually.  To access those resources, please visit their website.

Please note that office closures do not affect access to NCWorks Online. Job Applicants can continue to receive Job Search services and create resumes.  Employers can still receive Recruitment Services. Should your local NCWorks Career Center close, most services can still be accomplished online. 

Visit NCWorks Online.