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Unemployment Help

For the most up-to-date information about resources to help you and your family through this challenging time, we invite you to register for our e-news list.

Update: 11/5/20 - Unemployment Benefits Are Taxable and May Cause You to Owe More in Taxes Next Year. Plan now.

If you received unemployment benefits for tax year 2020, please consider the following suggestions:

  • Unemployment benefits are taxable income, and you should have been offered an option to have taxes taken out of your unemployment benefits when you applied.
  • If you didn’t have taxes taken out of your unemployment, there is a possibility you will owe taxes for 2020 or will receive a smaller refund for 2020.
  • Avoid a financial surprise early next year by going to the IRS website and putting in your information to get an estimate of your taxes for the year. 
  • If the calculator shows you may owe taxes for 2020, look at your budget to see if you can start saving for taxes now.
  • If you don’t have the ability to save for taxes you may owe, the IRS has the option to enroll in a payment plan. You can find more information on IRS payment plans
  • The calculator above does not account for state taxes. If you didn’t have state income taxes withheld from your unemployment benefits, plan to save a little more, if possible. Trying to save 5% of the amount you receive in unemployment benefits is a good goal, but whatever you can manage to save will be helpful come tax time.
  • Here’s more information about payment plans for state taxes

Update: 9/22/20 - More Unemployment Money Available

Apply for the Extended Benefits Program (EB) Through Your Unemployment Account

  • If your unemployment benefits are about to end, see if you are eligible for the Extended Benefits Program.
  • The Extended Benefits Program extends state unemployment insurance benefits for up to 6 weeks, which is 3.6 weeks less than initially reported.
  • If you’re eligible to apply, a link to “Apply for Extended Benefits” will appear in your online unemployment account after you exhaust your other unemployment options.
  • Click here for more information.

Update: 7/28/20 - Federal Unemployment Benefit Ended July 25 + Help Making Ends Meet on a Reduced Income

Need Help Figuring Out How to Manage with Less Unemployment Income?

Our Free Emergency Cash Flow Counseling can help you plan for the reduction in income and make difficult decisions about how to prioritize the income you do have. In this free counseling session, you will:

  • Create a two-month cash plan to make sure the most important expenses and bills are covered.
  • Figure out how to reduce expenses or potentially increase income to make ends meet.
  • Look at your debt to determine what and how much to pay and evaluate other debt payment strategies available from creditors during COVID-19; and
  • Make choices about how to make your plan work in real life and not just on paper.

Call us at 255-5166 to be screened for one of our counseling appointments. If you prefer to do your screening online instead of calling us, click here to take the first step in our online intake process. All counseling is now done on Zoom (or phone if you don’t have computer, smart phone, or internet access).

Update: 7/6/20 - Apply for Extended Unemployment – Starting July 6, 2020

If you live in North Carolina and you’ve exhausted your state unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for an extension through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.

  • PEUC provides up to 13 more weeks of assistance to eligible applicants who used all 12 weeks of their state unemployment insurance on or after July 6, 2019 and is available through December 26, 2020.
  • You must file a separate claim for PEUC and will not automatically receive PEUC.
  • To apply, sign into your online account at and click on “Apply for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation” link. This link should appear once the 12 weeks has been exhausted.
  • The link won’t appear if you aren’t eligible to apply.
  • Read more about this here.

Update: 6/25/20 - NC Unemployment Process

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

Contact Information and Getting Started

The fastest and most efficient way to apply for unemployment benefits is to create an account and file online at If you don't have access to a computer or need assistance, they can be reached by phone at the following numbers:

  • General phone number: 888-737-0259
  • Pandemic assistance line: 866-847-7209
  • To file an appeal: 919-707-1060
  • The office is open 7 days a week, including Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm.
  • Due to the high volume of calls related to COVID-19, you may experience a long wait time. 

The NC Division of Employment Security says that people typically receive payment within 14 days of filing their initial claim.

Taxes on Unemployment

Unemployment benefits are taxable income, and you may owe a lot in taxes next year if you don’t have taxes taken out of each check now. You can ask to have taxes withheld from your payments when you apply for benefits. You can only request that 10% of each payment be withheld from your unemployment benefits for federal income taxes.

Update: 4/8/20 - Unemployment Benefits for the Self-Employed

Expanded Eligibility for the Unemployed

Self-Employed or Were Seeking Part-Time Work? You Likely Now Qualify for Unemployment Insurance.

  • The federal government has expanded the Unemployment Insurance Program to include individuals who normally would be ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. This includes self-employed people, those seeking part-time employment, or those who wouldn’t normally qualify for unemployment benefits under state or federal law.
  • Applicants must show that they could work but are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work to work because of COVID-19.
  • NC anticipates being able to accept claims for this assistance around April 25, 2020. Learn more here.

Haven’t Applied for Unemployment Insurance Yet? 

  • Apply now even if you’re not sure if you are eligible. All applications during the COVID-19 crisis must be filed online here or by phone at 1-888-737-0259.
  • The NC online system is very slow right now; be persistent and patient to get your application submitted. We recommend keeping a log of any attempts to apply and all interactions with NC Unemployment Insurance.
  • Unemployment benefits are taxable and you can choose to have taxes withheld from your unemployment check.  If you opt not to, know that you might have taxes due when you file your tax return and you might want to consider setting up a set-aside savings to have money available to pay those taxes when due.
  • Pisgah Legal Services recommends that if you apply and are denied, appeal the decision online regardless.

Update: 3/26/20 - New Rules for Unemployment

Unemployment Help

NC Unemployment Rules Have Changed to Respond to COVID-19

  • No one week waiting time;
  • Workers won’t have to demonstrate they’re actively looking for a job;
  • Assistance is also available for those who have lost hours;
  • Employers are not required to pay for benefits for those seeking unemployment;
  • Want to Apply? All applications during the COVID-19 crisis must be filed online here or by phone at 1-888-737-0259 and;
  • Learn more here.

Having Difficulty Applying?

  • The NC online system is very slow right now; be persistent and patient to get your application submitted. We recommend keeping a log of any attempts to apply and all interactions with NC Unemployment Insurance.
  • Pisgah Legal Services recommends that if you apply and are denied, appeal the decision online regardless.

Pisgah Legal Services Can Help

  • Facing difficulty applying or with other employment matters related to COVID 19?
    Pisgah Legal has attorneys available to provide advice by phone to anyone who needs this help. Connect with them online or call 800-489-6144.
  • Review their all-you-need-to-know resource page about unemployment during COVID-19.

More Benefits Expansion on the Horizon

  • The Federal stimulus package contains additional support for gig workers and the self-employed as well as more robust benefits for all.  The package still has to be approved by the House of Representatives.  More information will follow in the Digest once the bill is finalized.
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