GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–People across South Carolina are experiencing long hold times on the phone and problems online when it comes to unemployment. 7News talked with a Department of Employment and Workforce spokesperson who explained how it all works, and what they’re doing to make sure claimants get paid what they deserve.
Some people have stayed on the phone for hours or hit a dead end when it comes to verification questions online. A few people say it’s even held up their unemployment benefits.
“I know that we have paid out basically more in a four month span than we have in about nine years in unemployment insurance benefits,” Heather Biance, a DEW spokesperson, said.
She said changes that came with the federal Lost Wages Assistance program are part of the holdup.
“There’s various technologies and operation systems, maybe they’re on a mobile phone or a tablet or a laptop or a computer,” Biance said.
It’s something that effected users when it came to a new verification process meant to stop fraud.
“Ultimately the reason why we have done what we’ve done at this point is basically to deter criminals from defrauding the system and to protect South Carolinians,” Biance said.
A protection that became increasingly important with the LWA funds.
“Any of that money that we get from FEMA and we fraudulently payout a claim for LWA we as a state are on the hook to pay that back to FEMA,” she said.
DEW recognizes the frustration with the verification issues.
“We have a second process, a phase two verification process they can work through,” Biance said.
Claimants can now upload, fax, or mail a copy of their government issued ID along with their claimant ID number if they are unable to complete the verification questions.
DEW says it has paid out more than $193-million in LWA funds since last week. The department also says the amount of people encountering issues is very low.