CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Since the coronavirus pandemic started, South Carolina’s Department of Employment and Workforce has seen hundreds of thousands of claims for unemployment.
While the number of initial claims each week is in a downward trend, there is a new development state unemployment offices are noticing nationwide. There are reports that people may be double dipping.
“It’s just something that we want to make individuals aware of, and try to prevent that from happening,” SCDEW Chief of Staff Jamie Suber said.
Unemployment offices across the nation are tracking potential claimants who are filing for unemployment benefits while also receiving a paycheck from their employer through the Paycheck Protection Program.
“It was not a companion program,” Suber said. “It wasn’t set up that you are both filing for the PPP and filing for unemployment benefits at the same time.”
Each week during the claim certification process, claimants are specifically asked if they have earned wages for that claim week. If its confirmed someone is double dipping, their eligibility status for unemployment will be deactivated, they’ll be required to pay the benefits back in full and they may face criminal charges. Employers found complicit to this activity will have their forgivable loan status revoked, which would require them to repay the amount loan in full.
Here in South Carolina, officials say they aren’t aware of a specific case. But, they say some people may not know this is considered fraud.
“I’m under the assumption that, obviously, there’s some people that probably did file not knowing or were not aware, and their employer had filed for them,” Suber said.
If that’s the case, DEW officials say you should tell your employer not to count you in their PPP loan or, if they already have, stop filing for unemployment insurance.
“One way or another, you’re supposed to stop or start with the other,” Suber said. “They shouldn’t be running at the same time.”
Those with the department want to make sure that money is going into the right hands.
“When we think about program integrity, that’s what we want to do is be good stewards of the trust fund and ensure that we have ample amount in that trust fund to serve those who are in need,” Suber added.
Officials say if you have any questions to reach out to them: https://dew.sc.gov/about-dew
They also confirmed they know there are people who are still in need of receiving their benefits – and they are working to get those through the system.
Since the middle of March, there have been more than 712,000 initial claims filed with the Department of Employment and Workforce in South Carolina.