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VERIFY: Ineligible for state unemployment benefits? You might qualify for this

North Carolina workers ineligible for regular unemployment can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Another day means another question about unemployment. And, it's no surprise, because the North Carolina Department of Commerce Employment Security Division (unemployment office) reports processing more than 900,000 unemployment claims since March 15. So far, it reports paying out more than one third of those.

Credit: Division of Employment Security

VERIFY QUESTION

Good Morning Show viewer Angela Black wrote to the WFMY VERIFY team and explained she works for a non-profit childcare center operated by a church. She wondered if non-profit employees are eligible for unemployment due to COVID-19. She said she hasn't been able to get in touch with the unemployment office by e-mail or phone to answer this question.

Credit: WFMY via Angela Black

RELATED: Weekly jobless claims could push US total past 30 million for COVID crisis

VERIFY SOURCE

  • Larry Parker - communications specialist - NC Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security

VERIFY PROCESS

The NC Department of Commerce explains in North Carolina, someone might be eligible for state unemployment assistance if he or she has lost work or is working reduced hours as a direct result of COVID-19. So, yes, even certain non-profit employees are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Here are three key reasons why someone might not be eligible:

  1. Ability to tele-work
  2. Receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits
  3. Works for a church or religious organization

That said, church employees like Black do have an option to get financial aid. They can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). It is a federal program for anyone unable to work due to COVID-19 who is ineligible for regular state unemployment benefits. Independent contractors and self-employers can get this, too.The payment is typically $600 per week.

RELATED: VERIFY: There's no catch. Your stimulus check won't affect your 2020 tax return

To file for PUA in North Carolina, call the PUA hotline at 1-866-847-7209 or file online (which is faster). On the Department of Commerce website, click "file a new unemployment insurance claim" and fill out the information. First, the unemployment office will rule out eligibility for statewide unemployment and then consider the applicant for PUA. 

Black mentioned she has had difficulty getting in contact with the unemployment call center. To address recent high call volume, the office extended its hours for both the PUA and regular unemployment phone lines. They are now open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

RELATED: Stuck on hold? NC unemployment call center extends weekday hours, adds weekends

VERIFY CONCLUSION

North Carolina workers ineligible for regular unemployment can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit a post, screen shot or selfie video of the claim in question to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

E-mail: Mmollerus@wfmy.com

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus