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NC Division of Employment Security Unemployment FAQ

In North Carolina, the Division of Employment Security (DES) handles unemployment benefits and determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis. Typically, applicants must meet eligibility criteria; however, some requirements have been waived, and the program has been expanded, in order to assist North Carolinians affected by COVID-19. 


How do I file for unemployment insurance?

The fastest way to file a new claim is to file online at If you don’t have access to a computer or need assistance, you may file over the phone by calling the Customer Call Center at 888-737-0259. However, due to the high volume of calls related to COVID-19, you may experience a long wait time. 


Filing for unemployment insurance due to COVID-19?

  • Create an Online Account:
  • File a claim for unemployment  
  • Complete Weekly Certifications
  • Check your claim status
  • File your Claim. To do so you will need:
    • Your Social Security Number
    • Information about your most recent employment and pay
    • Work history for the last two years
    • Bank routing and account numbers for Direct Deposit 
    • TIP: If you are filing due to COVID-19, select ‘coronavirus’ as your reason for separation.


  • Complete your Weekly Certification. 
    • A Weekly Certification is a series of yes/no questions that helps determine your eligibility for benefits each week. 
    • If you do not complete a Weekly Certification, you will not be considered for payment. 
  • Log in to your Online Account to complete your weekly certification. If you do not have online access, call 888-372-3453 (Weekly Certifications only).
  • TIP: N.C. Executive Order 118 allows some requirements to be waived for people filing for unemployment due to COVID-19. 
    • If you are filing due to COVID-19, you may answer ‘yes’ to this question on the Weekly Certification: Did you look for work?


What’s the timeline for receipt of payment?

  • After you file your claim, your last employer will be given, by law, 10 days to respond to DES. 
  • No payment will be released prior to the end of this 10-day period. If there are no issues, individuals typically receive payment within about 14 days of filing their initial claim.
  • TIP: Remember—you must complete a Weekly Certification for each week, or you will not receive payment.


What is the current maximum benefit amount?

Benefits remain at a maximum of $350.00/week for 12 weeks.


How soon will individuals receive unemployment insurance benefits?

Individuals filing for benefits as a direct result of COVID-19 will automatically have their waiting week for benefits waived; however, your last employer will be given 10 days from the time you file your initial claim to provide separation information to DES. 

No payments will be released until after that 10-day period.


How am I supposed to meet requirements related to my existing unemployment claim if I am in isolation or quarantine as a result of COVID-19?

Individuals currently filing for unemployment insurance benefits who have to quarantine due to COVID-19 will be considered able and available to work as long as the individual has not removed themselves from the labor market.


Must I still attend a previously scheduled in-person appointment related to unemployment insurance?

No, please contact the unit who scheduled the appointment or our Customer Call Center for other options to complete your appointment.


Do I have to search for work while filing for unemployment?

If you are out of work as a result of COVID-19, you do not have to conduct a work search while filing for unemployment.


What if my employer goes out of business due to COVID-19?

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you’re laid off. If you’re out of work due to COVID-19, indicate that while filing your claim.


Are independent contractors eligible for unemployment insurance?

Independent contractors and self-employed workers are not typically eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. However, these individuals may qualify for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance available as a result of COVID-19. The Division of Employment Security is awaiting guidance from the federal government to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Check for updates.


I am a part-time employee. Am I eligible for unemployment?

Anyone can file for unemployment insurance. In order to determine eligibility, you must first apply for unemployment. If you’re temporarily out of work or working reduced hours due to COVID-19, please select one of those two separation reasons when filing your claim.


I heard the federal government is expanding unemployment insurance benefits. Am I eligible?

The Division of Employment Security is awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor to implement the new assistance programs. Once we receive the final guidance, benefits should start being paid in about two weeks. Anyone who filed a claim due to COVID-19 before this legislation may still be eligible for these benefits. If any benefits are owed for a week previously claimed, payment will be made retroactively.


When will I receive payment?

After you have filed a claim, it usually takes about 14 days to receive your first payment. The additional $600 in federal benefits will be for weeks ending April 4 – July 31. DES is awaiting guidance for issuing those payments. Any benefits owed will be paid retroactively.


Do I need to complete a weekly certification every week to receive benefits?

Yes. A Weekly Certification is a series of yes/no questions that help determine your eligibility for benefits each week.

Source: NC Department of Commerce, Employment Securities Commission