How to Apply for Unemployment in North Carolina

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on March 30, 2020

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Lost your job because of COVID-19? This is what you need to know about unemployment benefits in North Carolina.

Lost your job because of COVID-19? This is what you need to know about unemployment benefits in North Carolina.

The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs. If your income has taken a hit during the crisis, you may get relief via unemployment benefits. This quick guide will help you navigate the process if you plan to file a claim in North Carolina.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

You can file for unemployment benefits in North Carolina if you:

  • Lost your job through no fault of your own and weren't fired for cause
  • Are able and willing to work -- though if your job loss was due to COVID-19, you're not required to look for work while you collect benefits
  • Meet the income eligibility requirements

For the latter, you'll need to determine your base period. This is normally the first four of the last five full quarters. So if you're filing a claim in March of 2020, your base period would be October 2018 to September 2019. 

You must have earned wages in at least two quarters of your base period to be eligible, and those wages must equal at least $780 in one of the last two quarters of your base period. If you don't qualify via your base period, that requirement applies to your alternate base period, which, if you're filing a claim in March 2020, is January to December of 2019.

Keep in mind that if you're out of work temporarily or have had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for benefits, so it may be a smart financial move to file a claim. 

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

You can apply for unemployment benefits online seven days a week via North Carolina's Department of Commerce. The information you'll need to provide includes:

  • Your Social Security number or Alien Registration Number if you're not a U.S. citizen
  • Your work history for the past two years 
  • Details of your separation agreement, including severance pay you may be entitled to
  • Your SF-50 form, SF-8 form, pay stub(s), or W-2 if you were a federal employee
  • Form DD-214 if you were in the military 
  • Your bank account details if you intend to sign up for direct deposit

Don't forget to fill in your weekly claim certificate every week, starting the week after you apply -- even if your application has not yet been approved.

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits?

Your weekly unemployment benefit is calculated by dividing your total wages from the last two quarters of your base period by 52. That number is then rounded to the next lowest whole dollar. To collect a weekly payment, that total must equal at least $15. 

This means that if your total wages for the last two quarters of your base period were $12,000, you'd get $230 a week. The maximum amount you can collect each week is $350.

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?

You can collect unemployment benefits in North Carolina for between 12 and 20 weeks. If you find yourself still out of a job after those 20 weeks are up, you can request an extension of your benefits.

Keep in mind that the CARES Act extends your benefit period by an additional 13 weeks.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

If your unemployment benefits claim is denied, you can file an appeal online. You'll be contacted with a time and date for an appeal hearing.

File as soon as you can

Though your unemployment benefits won't replace your entire paycheck, they will put some money back in your pocket so you can pay your bills and avoid racking up costly debt. Most people start getting benefits within 14 days of filing an initial claim, so the sooner you get moving, the sooner you'll have some financial breathing room.

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