Want to apply for Texas unemployment benefits online? This guide will help you know everything about the procedure and Texas unemployment eligibility.
As of this writing, the Texas Tribune reports that joblessness in the Lone Star State is at an all-time high. From mid-March to early June of 2020, 2.4 million unemployment claims were filed.
Like many states, Texas has relaxed some of its eligibility requirements during the coronavirus pandemic. It has also extended benefits to workers who are ineligible under normal circumstances. Examples include self-employed people, independent contractors and gig workers.
Furthermore, the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, supplements the TWC program with additional benefits.
If you’re out of work, keep reading to find out if you qualify for benefits and where to access the Texas unemployment application.
Under normal circumstances, the Texas Workforce Commission evaluates claims and determines benefits based on three criteria:
These are defined as taxable wages that you earned in Texas during a base period.
The base period is the year leading up to the quarter before the one in which you file your claim. For workers who filed claims in April 2020, for example, the base period was Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2019.
These requirements must have been met during the base period:
Weekly benefits, which currently range from $69 to $521, are calculated starting with the highest-earning quarter in the base period. Total wages in that quarter are divided by 25 and rounded to the nearest dollar.
The TWC sometimes makes exceptions for people who were out of work for a long stretch during the base period. If you have verifiable proof that you were seriously ill, injured, disabled or pregnant and could not work, the TWC might consider an alternate base period.
In a nutshell, you must be unemployed or working reduced hours through no fault of your own. Layoffs, downsizing, pay cuts, and even being fired for a reason other than misconduct — such as being a bad fit for the job — are all valid reasons to file for benefits.
In most cases, it’s a different story if you quit your job. These are some of the exceptions:
There are some more exceptions, so read the fine print on the TWC website.
Traditionally, the TWC has required a waiting week before benefits are paid. Claimants’ first week is withheld until they have either returned to work full time and earned double their weekly benefit amount or they have exhausted their benefits.
Claimants typically must also register for work on WorkInTexas.com, meet minimum job-search requirements, and log their search activities each time they request benefits.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the waiting week and job-search requirements have been waived.
Self-employed workers, independent contractors and gig workers are not usually eligible for unemployment assistance. The TWC has made a temporary exception.
If you’re self-employed or do not monetarily qualify for regular Texas unemployment, you have a good chance of qualifying for $207 per week under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Some of the rules pertaining to how you lost your job have also temporarily changed. You may qualify for Texas unemployment benefits if you meet one or more of these conditions:
Can you lose your benefits if you refuse to return to work or accept a suitable job because you’re afraid of getting coronavirus? That’s not exactly clear.
There’s an ongoing debate in Texas and other states about ordering people with legitimate fears to get back to work. That’s especially true of workers who know their former or future employers are lax with COVID-19 safety guidelines.
For now, assume that you will lose your benefits if you don’t go back to work when requested to or turn down a job in order to stay safe.
That having been said, The Dallas Morning News reported in mid-May that special circumstances during the pandemic are considered on a case-by-case basis.
You may be eligible for an extension after you exhaust your benefits. The types of assistance break down this way:
If you are eligible for an extension, the TWC will notify you by mail or email with instructions.
You can apply for benefits online or by calling the TWC at 800-939-6631. However, the TWC strongly urges people to use the online system as call centers are still overwhelmed.
Either way, have these on hand when you apply:
Go to twc.texas.gov, and follow these steps:
There’s one important note for self-employed workers: When you come to the “Employer” box, enter your own name. You’ll be automatically denied for regular benefits, but you will most likely qualify for PUA if you check “COVID-19” as the reason for your unemployment. If you get PUA, you’ll automatically get FPUC as well.
You’ll never know unless you apply.
Unemployment benefits, also known as “unemployment insurance,” is a program run by state governments to help support citizens who have recently lost their jobs via temporary cash assistance. This comes in the form of a weekly check in the mail or direct deposit, based on the amount you were earning previously and how many people depend on you for financial support.
The money comes from taxes that businesses pay the state government each paycycle on behalf of their employees.
You’ll need to check the eligibility requirements in your state, which can be found here.
Because of COVID-19, self-employed workers and gig workers are newly eligible for assistance, so pay close attention to any updated materials.
After filing a claim, those who are eligible can receive assistance for usually up to 26-weeks, but this has increased an additional 13-weeks because of COVID-19.
As long as you are following the rules of the program, which are specific to each state, the money will not have to be paid back. You will be required to pay a tax of 10% on the funding, which you can choose to have withheld from the check or to pay while filing your annual state/federal taxes at a later date.
Please note that it is illegal to file a claim for unemployment benefits if you do not meet the requirements. If caught, you face a penalty of even more than the amount received in assistance.
Complete the quiz at the top of the page to be directed to your state's online benefit application.