Since the COVID crisis began, almost 40 million Americans have been made unemployed. A select few states have managed to escape relatively unscathed. Others haven’t been quite so lucky. As The Street reports, South Dakota counts among the second category, with unemployment rising a dramatic 756.78% since January. For those that have been forced out of their job, either temporarily or permanently, unemployment benefits (or Reemployment Assistance (RA), as they’re known in South Dakota) represent a much-needed lifeline. While they can’t hope to replace a lost income entirely, they will at least help keep those affected by the crisis afloat until new employment is secured. If you’ve found yourself unemployed, here’s how to file for unemployment in South Dakota.
Unemployment benefits aren’t open to everyone. If you’re hoping to collect RA, you’ll need to show:
- You’ve been made unemployed through no fault of your own (if you left your last employer voluntarily, be prepared to explain why)
- You’re legally authorized to work in the United States
- Your last employer was based in South Dakota (if you live in South Dakota but previously worked out-of-state, you’ll need to file in the state in which you worked)
- You’re willing, able, and actively seeking work
- You’ve registered with South Dakota’s designated workforce agency
- You earned a minimum of $728 in your highest-earning quarter of the base period (the base period covers the first four of the last 5 quarters before your claim)
That said, since the CARES Act was introduced in March, the work-search requirements of the eligibility criteria have been relaxed in certain circumstances. If you can’t work because you’ve tested positive to COVID or have been quarantined after exposure; if you’re the caregiver to someone who’s tested positive to COVID or who’s been quarantined after exposure; or if your employer temporarily closes because of COVID, you should still be able to claim RA even if you aren’t actively seeking new employment. Similarly, if your employer has asked you to work reduced hours for a finite time because of COVID, you could be eligible for partial benefits. In a further shake-up to the usual requirements, freelancers, self-employed individuals, and contractors – none of whom would typically be eligible to apply for support – can now claim relief under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if their income has been negatively affected as a result of the crisis.
How to File A Claim
As part of your application, you’ll need to verify various personal, financial, and employment information. Before starting your application, it’s a good idea to make sure you have all the following to hand: SSN, alien registration number if you’re not a US citizen, your last 18 months of employment history to include the name, addresses and contact details for each employer, and the details of the bank account you’d like your benefits to be paid into. Once you’ve gathered all the information, you’ve got two options on how to file:
- Call the Claims Call Center at 605.626.3179, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. (Central Time). For TTY service, dial 711 or 800.877.1113
- File online at the Department of Labor and Regulation’s claims page
Filing online is possible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you’d rather file by phone (although be warned that due to the high number of new applicants, long hold times are the new norm), you’re asked to follow a filing schedule based on your last name. if your last name begins A-F, file on Monday, if it begins G-N, file on Tuesday, and if it begins O-Z, file on Wednesday. If you missed your slot, file on Thursday or Friday.
As waiting to claim may result in the loss of certain benefits, it’s recommended you file as soon as possible after becoming unemployed or reducing your hours. Once you’ve filed your initial application, you’ll need to start making weekly claims in order to collect payment. The weekly claims are much quicker and simpler to complete than the initial claim, and can be done either online or by telephone with the automated phone system. All weekly claims must be filed within 7 days of the previous week – if you forget to claim, you might be denied benefits for the relevant week.
How Much Can I Collect?
As Fool.com advises, weekly RA amounts vary between a minimum of $28 and a maximum of $414 per week. How much you receive will depend on your earnings during the base period: expect to collect 1/26 of your average weekly income during the highest-earning quarter. Payment will be made either by debit card or bank deposit, depending on the preference you stated in your initial claim. Until the end of July, RA claimants will also be entitled to an additional $600 per week payment on top of what the state pays as part of the CARES Act. Your entitlement will be calculated automatically by the DLR, so no further action will be needed on your part in order to benefit.
How Long Can I Collect Unemployment?
The DLR normally allows you to collect benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. However, under the CARES Act, this has been extended by an additional 13 weeks, taking the total claimable period to 39 weeks.
Can I Appeal if My Claim is Denied?
If your claim is straightforward, you might receive a decision back within as little as 24 hours. More complex claims that require review might take upwards of 3 weeks. Once the review has been completed, the DLR will issue a Notice of Determination confirming your eligibility and number of eligible weeks. If you feel an error has been made, you can appeal the determination(s) you disagree with within 15 days of the mailing date of the determination. Full instructions on how to appeal and what information will be needed to support the appeal will be included in the determination.