COLUMBIA, S.C. — The State Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) is extending their call center hours following the roll out of the new Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program and to help those still having difficulty.
The funds from the LWA program could bring up to $1,800 to those eligable.
Others who have applied for benefits wonder why their weekly benefits may have stopped.
"I call every week," Natasha Brazier said, hoping to get answers. "You're on the phone for an hour and a half to three hours max holding for a rep."
Recently, she says she was asked to verify that her child's school is 100% virtual, a normal part of the weekly certification process, according to DEW.
A spokesperson for the department says that, if a claimants child's school is back in session in person and the claimant chooses online learning, they would no longer be eligible for benefits.
If the school district/school is completely virtual, the claimant can continue to receive benefits, if they are the caregiver, according to DEW.
As Brazier works to certify and verify her benefit eligibility, others continue to call the department for other concerns.
To help, DEW has extended their call center hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 9 and on Saturday, Oct. 10 from 8 a.m. to noon.
People are asked to call 1-866-831-1724.
To receive the LWA funds, claimants must be eligible for a weekly benefit amount of at least $100 for one of the following unemployment programs during the week in which he/she is seeking LWA funds:
- State Unemployment Insurance (UI)
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
- Extended Benefits (EB)
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA).
Claimants must also certify that they were unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information on eligibility requirements visit DEW online.
Despite more than $230 million dollars in LWA money being distributed, DEW says the ID verification process has been the primary issue for those not getting through.
For those unable to answer the verification questions, an alternative option is available allowing claimants to send a copy of their government issued ID (such as a driver’s license, passport, permanent resident card or alien registration card) for verification with their claimant ID number on each page of the documentation that is being submitted.
For more information on how to verify a claim click here to view our previous coverage.
"If you’ve uploaded your ID verification documents to your portal and you can see it within your portal, that’s all the action you need to take. We are actively retrieving reports on who uploads documents each day to the system and our team is systematically working through each claim," DEW Spokesperson Heather Biance said in a statement. "What we are seeing is people are uploading documents, mailing and faxing their documents. This is causing a delay because all of those documents have to be sorted, filtered, attached to the claim, reviewed and approved. It’s basically a duplication or triple effort for one claim. We are asking for claimants to only perform phase two of their documentation request in one manner only."
Payments can take up to two weeks once the process is completed successfully, according to the department.
"We are issuing payments every night," Biance said in a statement. "So we encourage claimants to continue to check their portal each day for a payment notification. And if their portal prompts them for additional information, we ask they do this as soon as possible to avoid further delay. "