According to a News and Observer article the Division of Employment Services is taking longer to issue NC unemployment benefits. Many workers are waiting more than three weeks to receive benefits.  Unemployment benefits are temporary payments made to tide over employees who are fired.  Employees who are fired because of their bad conduct are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits.

According to the article the backlog has increased from 7296 claims in July to about 12,000 in January.  Employment Security officials blame the backlog on increased efforts to ensure that payments are made to employees entitled to the benefits, and the fact that many employers fail to timely submit needed paperwork.  Up to 40% of employers do not report the reason an employee was separated from their employment.

Federal standards require the payment of 87% of claims within 21 days.  The U.S. Department of Labor is also pressuring the state to not overpay or improperly pay benefits.  Under a new state law Employment officials are required to attempt to recoup any improper payments.

Claims where the employer and employee disagree on the reason for the separation must be heard, or “adjudicated,” by the ESC. Typically ESC will make an initial decision based on reports from the employer and the employee.  If the stories match up, and the employee is eligible for benefits, then payments begin.  If there is a dispute between the parties as to how the separation from employment occurred then benefits may be denied.  Either party can appeal and request a more formal hearing before a hearing officer.

NC unemployment benefits can play a critical role in a NC automobile accident or other personal injury case.  An employee who is fired because he or she is unable to return immediately to work because of injuries sustained in an automobile accident can claim unemployment benefits while they recover.  While unemployment benefits will not replace lost wages then can provide some short term support for an accident victim.  Unemployment benefits can provide a similar benefit in a denied North Carolina workers’ compensation case.  While the employer may get a credit for unemployment benefits if the workers’ compensation case is later determined to be covered the benefits can at least provide some  income during a period of disability.