DEW’s MyBenefits Portal Now Accepting Online Payments

The SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) is making it easier than ever for unemployment insurance (UI) claimants to pay back debt.

In addition to submitting by mail and automatic draft, claimants may now use the online payment portal via MyBenefits. You may pay with a debit card, credit card or an electronic check.

Click here for a step-by-step guide

An improper payment occurs when someone receives UI benefits that he or she is not eligible for.

If a person has been overpaid for UI benefits, whether fraudulent or non-fraudulent, he or she must repay the debt to DEW or risk the following penalties:

  • Withholding of wages if currently employed
  • Deducting the money owed from federal and/or state income tax refunds
  • Deducting debt from any other money owed by the state

Alternative collection methods can be avoided by either repaying the debt in full or establishing and maintaining a monthly payment plan.  After receiving a Notice of Overpayment of Benefits, you should  immediate action should be taken by calling DEW’s Overpayment Unit at 803.737.2490.

In recent years, DEW’s fraud prevention and detection efforts have dramatically decreased the number of improper payments being made. In 2012, the agency implemented a software system that compares wage data against unemployment data to detect potential conflicts. For example, it can detect if a person who is filing weekly claims is actually earning wages and working.

This process helps DEW better detect both fraud and non-fraud overpayments, identifies the potential fraud sooner, flags the claim and stops payments. With quicker identification, DEW is able to both recoup fraudulent improper payments sooner and prosecute more fraud cases.

DEW has also improved its detection capability by reducing the claims’ audit time frame by 50 percent.

The quicker detection processes have:

  • Reduced the number of potentially fraudulent weeks claimed by 30 percent,
  • Decreased the average amount paid per potentially fraudulent case by 30 percent, and
  • Significantly reduced the average number of fraud cases per quarter by 50 percent.

The new online payment portal is just another step towards efficiency and DEW’s goal of improved improper payment detection, prevention and recovery.

For more information about improper payments and fraud prevention, visit dew.sc.gov/overpayments.

Seasonal Hiring Ramps Up for 2014 Holidays

Yes, it’s still September but if you’ve ventured in to any retail stores lately, you know that the holidays are upon us.

Employers are ramping up the hustle and bustle of the season with big hiring announcements. Some experts predict retailers will add more than 800,000 seasonal workers for the October-through-December period.

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Check out this list just from the last week or two.

Amazon is having a hiring event for seasonal full-time positions Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the SC National Guard Armory at 1255 Bluff Road in Columbia. For faster processing, apply online beforehand at apply.smjobs.coml with job code 781S. Earn up to $11.50 per hour and get paid weekly.

Kroger is beefing up its staff around the Southeast, and not just for the holidays. At least 100 new jobs have been posted for the grocer’s 11 S.C. locations. Positions include front end workers, deli staffers and store clerks. www.kroger.com/careers.

Kohl’s plans to hire more than 67,000 seasonal workers, an increase of 50 associates per store. kohlscareers.com

Target will hire 70,000 seasonal workers. corporate.target.com/careers

Wal-Mart plans to hire 60,000 temporary workers. jobs.walmart.com

FedEx plans to hire more than 50,000 seasonal workers. careers.van.fedex.com

UPS will bring on up to 95,000 seasonal hires. ups.managehr.com/home.htm

September Packed Full of Job Fairs

When you think of September, you might think of football. But this month is also shaping up to be quite busy with job fairs. Check out the upcoming events happening throughout the state below. Also, visit dew.sc.gov/jobfairs for the most up-to-date listings and twitter.com/scworksinfo for hiring events happening every week at SC Works centers statewide.

Clemson JobLink Career Fair
Tuesday-Wednesday, September 16-17, 2014
12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Clemson University Littlejohn Coliseum
1 Avenue of Champions
Clemson, SC 29632
Phone: 864-656-6000
Open to students and the general public. Employers include those in engineering, technical, non-technical, business, and social services industries.
Event website

Kelly Services Job Fair
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte
1920 Ayrsley Twon Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28273
Phone: 704-510-0900
Event flyer

Worklink SCWorks Job Fair 
Friday, September 19, 2014
9:00am – 12:00pm
Tri County Technical College – Anderson Campus
511 Michelin Blvd, Anderson, SC 29625
Phone: 864-722-9267.
Event Flyer

Upper Savannah Job Fair
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Greenwood Mall
420 SC Hwy 72
Greenwood, SC 29649
Phone: 864-941-8050
Event website

SMX/Amazon Hiring Event 
Tuesday, September 30
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Bluff Road Armory, 1225 Bluff Road
Columbia, SC 29201
Through SMX, Amazon will be hiring for immediate warehouse positions. To qualify for an interview, job seekers MUST apply online before September 29 (Use job code 781S at apply.smjobs.com). Free drug test and background check; copy of high school diploma or GED required.

Training Opportunity for Midlands Unemployed

If you are an unemployed veteran, minority or woman in the Midlands who has an interest in Information Technology (IT), you may be eligible to receive training in high demand IT sectors at no cost to you.

The Growing Resources for Information Technology (GRIT) program is available through Midlands Technical College and provides a training infrastructure to high-growth, high demand IT occupations.

Because the insurance and healthcare IT sectors experience regional skill and training gaps, the GRIT program focuses primarily on these areas. In fact, it’s estimated that these industries will need approximately 2,200 new and replacement workers during the next four years.

The three occupations in highest demand in these industries are programmer analysts, computer network support specialists and network and data communication analysts. These positions account for almost three out of every four IT jobs in the Midlands.

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Eligible participants in the GRIT program receive on-the-job training through corporate and continuing education and the opportunity to experience hands-on training with local employers. The program also provides tuition, books and multiple certifications.

The GRIT program is a $5 million grant fully-funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration and runs through March 31, 2016.

For more information and to apply visit MidlandsTech.edu.

Recent announcements equal jobs in Lowcountry and Union County

Two recent economic development announcements will create new jobs for opposite ends of the state.

Meter Bearings Group, a designer and producer of ball and cylindrical roller bearings, is establishing its first U.S. manufacturing operations in Colleton County, according to a news release from the S.C. Department of Commerce.

The $4.5 million investment is expected to create 50 new jobs during the next five years.  The facility is being built in Walterboro and is scheduled to begin production by September 2015.

The company is coordinating with readySC to create a customized, pre-employment training program.

For more information about the new jobs and to apply, visit www.sctechjobs.com or visit the Colleton SC Works Center at  1085 Thunderbolt Road in Walterboro.

To the north and west, department store retailer Belk, Inc. will expand its Union County e-commerce distribution and fulfillment center operations, according to the Commerce Department.

The $47 million investment will add 20 new jobs, which will grow the company’s Jonesville presence to 314 employees.

In December, Belk announced its intention to hire an additional 170 personnel by the end of 2015, and this expansion grows those expectations to add another 20 jobs.

Those interested in employment opportunities with the company may visit Belk’s careers page and search for positions in Jonesville, S.C.

Career Ready 101

In a previous post, we told you about the South Carolina Work Ready Communities initiative that provides free WorkKeys® assessments to help you earn a National Career Readiness Certificate.

This is a great way to beef up your resume and show potential employers that you have the skills required for the job.  But you can only take advantage of this free testing once, so how do you prepare to make sure you score your best? Career Ready 101.

CareerReadyCareer Ready 101 is a one-of-a-kind program designed to provide a comprehensive online career training curriculum using KeyTrain® courseware that is directly aligned with the WorkKeys® assessment system.

This self-paced program allows you to practice the three primary WorkKeys® assessments, which include Reading for Information, Locating Information and Applied Mathematics, as well as improve on other workplace skills like team work and decision making.

Career Ready 101 also gives you access to information about what WorkKeys® scores are required for any specified occupation as well as the associated wages.

To gain access and establish a free account, visit your local adult education center, SC Works center or South Carolina Technical College. After you have created an account, you can access the curriculum from anywhere with Internet access. It will even be available via mobile device June 1.

Take advantage of this free resource today to best prepare for the WorkKeys® assessment and score a National Career Readiness Certificate.

Overpayments Can Have Serious Consequences

Working part-time or odd jobs while receiving unemployment benefits is allowed, and even encouraged, but make sure you report the money you earn each week when filing your weekly claim.

Failing to accurately report this and other requested critical information to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) may result in an overpayment, which can have serious consequences.

reporting wages

An overpayment occurs when you receive unemployment insurance benefits that you are not eligible for. DEW classifies overpayments of unemployment benefits into two categories: fraudulent overpayments and non-fraudulent overpayments.

Non-fraudulent overpayments happen when you receive benefits you are not entitled to, but receiving those benefits is not because you knowingly gave false information or withheld information.  Though unintentional, non-fraudulent overpayments must be repaid to DEW.

Fraudulent overpayments occur when you receive benefits you are not entitled to because you knowingly provided false information or withheld information. Fraudulent overpayments are a serious offense that can result in criminal prosecution. Fraudulent overpayments must be repaid along with a penalty fee of 25 percent. You are also disqualified from receiving future benefits for between 10 and 52 weeks.  To read more about preventing, reporting and the consequences of fraud, click here.

If you do not repay the overpayment debt once you have been notified of an overpayment, DEW takes many actions to recover the debt including:

You can avoid alternative collection methods by either repaying the debt in full or establishing and maintaining a monthly payment plan.  After receiving a Notice of Overpayment of Benefits, take immediate action by calling the Overpayment Unit at 803.737.2490.

Reporting accurate information and receiving only the money you are qualified to collect prevents potential fraud prosecution and will ultimately ensure the unemployment benefits program’s overall integrity.

For more information on overpayments, visit dew.sc.gov/overpayments.

Tax Season and Your Job Search: Learn What You Can Deduct

With the April 15 income tax filing deadline coming soon, it’s a good time to refresh yourself on how your job search expenses can impact your taxes.

You can deduct certain expenses you’ve incurred while looking for a new job, if it’s in the same field as your present or most current occupation. You can’t deduct these expenses if you’re changing career fields, there was a substantial break between your last job ending and your search for a new one, or if you are looking for a job for the first time, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

april15

Below are some of the deductions possible if you are looking for a job within your current occupation:

  • Employment and outplacement agency fees.
  • Resume preparation and expenses. You can deduct what you spend for preparing and mailing copies of your resume to potential employers.
  • Travel expenses. You can deduct the travel expenses if the trip is primarily to look for a new job.

 For detailed guidelines, read the IRS’s Publication 529: Miscellaneous Deductions.

If you collected Unemployment Insurance during any part of the year, this is considered taxable income by the IRS.  In South Carolina, federal and state taxes are not automatically withheld from your unemployment benefits. You must choose to have them withheld when submitting your initial claim.

You can download and print your 1099-G as well as update your withholding information through the MyBenefits portal.

Learn more here.

Community Connection Points Grow

Looking for an easy way to kick off your job search right in your own community? Need to file an unemployment claim, but you don’t have access to a computer or the Internet?

There are now more than 100 Connection Points statewide that offer the right tools to help. Along with computer access, the Connection Points include printed resources and online tutorials to assist individuals file claims and search for jobs.

Libraryposter

These locations can be found at local libraries, Goodwill Job Connection Centers and other community-based organizations in all corners of South Carolina. These sites are in addition to the SC Works centers, where in-person employment services and computer access to unemployment services are available.

The SC Department of Employment and Workforce and its partners last year began providing re-employment and unemployment services in all 46 counties through a technology-enhanced approach including 13 regional comprehensive SC Works centers as well as satellite centers and community Connection Points.

 To find a Connection Point or SC Works center near you, visit dew.sc.gov/directory.

New Agency Phone Line Focuses on Better Customer Service

The SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) recently unveiled a new and improved phone line auto attendant.

phoneThe new line, which is accessed by dialing 803.737.2400, is more customer-friendly than ever with options dedicated to the agency’s four largest audiences: unemployment claimants, jobseekers, businesses/employers and those seeking other basic information about DEW.

This approach mirrors the agency’s website so that each audience only hears options pertaining to its individual needs allowing for faster, more specific responses..

Check out the new organization and options below.

Agency Main Line 803.737.2400
TelClaim | Claimant self-service lineUnemployment benefit inquiries
Weekly claim filing
Account information
1.866.831.1724 (toll free)
Press option 4, then option 1 to speak with a live representative weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.¿Habla español? 1.866.572.3148.
Claimant LineOverpayments
Appeals 

Fraud reporting
 803.737.2400, option 1
Job seeker LineJob search and training resources
SCWOS password reset
Veterans assistance
Farmworker services
 803.737.2400, option 2
Employer LineRecruit qualified candidates
Layoff assistance
Unemployment tax 
Wage Audit Notices 
Bureau of Labor Statistics survey completion
Appeals 
Fraud reporting
  

803.737.2400, option 3

Other Agency Info

Labor Market Information, data and statistics

Public and media relations

803.737.2400, option 4