TWC Begins Payments under CARES Act Extension

Those with exhausted benefits will be automatically re-enrolled; do not need to re-apply.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security CARES Act on the desk.

TWC has moved quickly to begin paying benefits under the CARES Act extension. We received Department of Labor (DOL) guidance on implementing the act on Friday, and over the weekend, our teams modified over 1.1 million current active benefit claims allowing customers to begin transitioning to the new extensions. We then began to make those payments the following Monday. In the first two days alone, TWC paid out over 44 million in the first two days. And this is the $300 per week payment alone.

Under the federal legislation, all Texans who are still unemployed due to COVID-19 and qualified for benefits will have them extended until March 13. This includes Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). They will also receive an additional $300 per week under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.

  • No one should have to reapply for benefits.
  • If you are currently receiving benefits, continue to request payment.
  • If your benefits have been exhausted, we will automatically re-enroll you. If we need further information from you, we will contact you.
  • Regardless of when benefits were exhausted, all new benefits under the extended CARES Act begin with the week ending Jan 2 and will continue until March 13. People who did not receive that first week will get it backdated. There will be no back-dating of federal benefits prior to that week.

You do not need to contact the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) about these extensions. Due to high call volume at this time, you may experience difficulties reaching a customer service representative, and calling unnecessarily will cause delays for other Texans.

We are working expeditiously on updating eligible claims to take advantage of the new law and will make the necessary updates to your claim and notify you of your potential eligibility. If more information is needed, we will contact you with instructions.

Remember to monitor your email and check the TWC COVID-19 Resources Job Seekers webpage for current information and updates.

Additional information and resources:

There are many job openings in Texas right now. For help finding a job, please visit WorkInTexas.com, the state’s powerful online job matching and workforce services system, or use the virtual and in person services at local Workforce Solutions offices located throughout the state.

How do I complete my Work Search Requirements?

On November 1, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) reinstated work search requirements. TWC set the maximum number of work search activities claimants will be required to complete each week at 3 but, gave each local workforce area the ability to lower the required number based on the COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations in their area. Work search is a federal requirement that TWC suspended March 2020. Work search actives can be completed safely online and will help prepare claimants for the expiration of CARES Act funding on December 26, 2020.   

How many activities do I need to complete? 

TWC provided all claimants with a work search letter that lists the specific number they are required to meet. Depending on your preference you received this either through the mail at your mailing address or via electronic correspondence on your online unemployment benefits account. If you cannot locate your work search letter, no worries, use this link to locate the number of work search activities required in your workforce area.  

know my required number of work search activities. What do I have to do to complete them? 

First, you will need to identify that type of unemployment you are on. You can locate this information in your Statement of Benefits letter sent from TWC to either your physical mailbox or correspondence inbox.  

Once you know what type of claim you have, utilize the below chart to identify work search activities you can complete.  

I am self-employed, how do I complete work search activities? 

Self-Employed PUA claimants are required to undertake activities to resume their business and must certify this when requesting payment for unemployment benefits bi-weekly.  If the business will not reopen, Self-Employed PUA claimants are required to perform work search activities, meet the minimum number of weekly work search activities, and apply for jobs suitable to their skills and talents. They also have a resume waiting for their completion in WorkInTexas.com, the opportunity to apply for work through WorkInTexas.com, and have the same resources available to them as other job seekers through Workforce Solutions offices. 

I’ve completed my required number of work search activities, how do I let TWC know? 

Next time you request payment, TWC will ask if you have completed work search activities. You will confirm that you have completed them. Unless TWC contacts you for additional information, no further action is needed from you. Your work search requirements for the weeks you requested payment are complete! Just keep records to show you completed them.  

What additional information could TWC ask for? 

TWC may ask for your work search log. Claimants should keep a record of the work search activities they complete. We suggest you utilize this work search log. You will only need to submit these to TWC if asked. But you do need to make sure you keep your work search log for one year. While TWC may not ask for it right away, we have the right to ask for it within the claim year.   

Overpayments for Unemployment Benefits Explained

We are here to work with you.

TWC understands this is a difficult and trying time for many, and the last thing the agency wants to do is place undue burden on any of our fellow Texans. So while getting a notice of overpayment may not be a pleasant or welcomed experience, do not let this weigh on your mind.

TWC will not be clawing back money, we will work with people to get this resolved in a way that won’t stress someone’s budget or mental health.  

What are Overpayments?

Overpayments occur when claimants receive unemployment benefits that they were not eligible to receive. TWC is required by law to collect overpaid funds.* The debt is never forgivable and will be owed to the state. However, if an overpayment was caused solely by a Commission error, the overpayment is not collectible. *Texas is prevented by court order from collecting overpayments caused solely by Commission error.

What caused the overpayment?

Most overpayments are due to honest errors made in the application process. Common errors include:

  • claimants forgetting to report a few days of income they made working part-time,
  • reporting an employment end date a day or two before the actual employment end date, or
  • inputting an incorrect wage (i.e. a claimant’s actual hourly rate was $12.75/hr but they thought it was $13.00/hr).

There are a variety of understandable reasons why overpayments can and might happen. Click here for a more comprehensive list.

I got a letter; do I need to pay my overpayment back now?

We recognize that if someone is struggling to make ends meet, the last thing TWC should do is strong-arm them into paying money they desperately need. TWC understands that there is a big difference between people not wanting to pay back money versus not being able too.

Currently, there is no penalty for not paying back the amount immediately and TWC is taking the approach of asking claimants to pay what they can, when they can. Whether that is $50 a month or $50 a week, TWC is flexible in how and when overpayments are being made.

Right now, if a claimant can’t make any payments and they need to wait until they’re back on their feet, TWC is not going to refer them to a collection agency.

The agency is not going to claw money out of a claimant’s account, stop their benefits, or even reduce their benefits. Claimants can pay TWC back when they are comfortably able too, so think of an overpayment letter as TWC’s way of reaching out so that the agency can work with claimants on a solution. TWC will work with everybody that needs help and is willing to work with the agency on getting this resolved.

Will I be charged interest?

Only on cases of fraud are claimants charged interest.

How do I know if I committed fraud?

Simple, honest mistakes are not fraud.

If a claimant forgets to tell TWC that they worked for a few hours, or accidently reported their last day of work a day early that is not fraud.

A claimant commits fraud if they knowingly provide false or misleading information or withhold relevant information to obtain or increase benefits.

The most common types of fraud are when a claimant purposefully takes steps to get money they did not deserve or claimed that that they were somebody else. If someone commits fraud, the agency is much more aggressive in pursuit of money owed and there are penalties and interest. TWC will work with local district attorneys, law enforcement and federal law enforcement to recoup money.

Can I appeal overpayment?

Yes, claimants can appeal an overpayment or fraud charge within 14 days from the mail date listed on the Texas Workforce Commission decision.

If a claimant thinks there has been an error, TWC encourages them to appeal. On the overpayment letter will be instructions for how claimants can appeal and a date to appeal by.

If someone appeals by fax, they should keep their fax confirmation as proof of transmission. Do note, claimants must appeal each determination separately.

How do State Extended Benefits Impact your Unemployment?

This flow chart represents the current unemployment process. If you have already applied for benefits you may get UI and PUA. if your benefits are exhausted you may receive PEUC for 13 weeks and state extended benefits for an additional 13 weeks.

Monday, June 1, the Department of Labor notified the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) that the state triggered State Extended Benefits (EB). This program provides federal reimbursement to the state for up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. The extension takes effect on May 31, 2020. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), previously extended unemployment benefits for 13 weeks starting March 29, 2020. As a result, the first week Texans may be eligible for the additional EB is the week ending in July 4, 2020.

Statutes for EB date back to 1971 and are triggered during different periods of high unemployment. EB are available to workers who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment and are calculated per state. Texas’ unemployment rate is currently 12.8 percent, exceeding the five percent threshold to trigger the extension. Determination of “on” and “off” indicators can be found in TUCA 209.022.

Under traditional unemployment insurance, claimants can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits. The CARES Act provides PEUC benefits up to 13 weeks and provides an additional $600 per week to claimants until July 25, 2020. The CARES Act also expands the pool of claimants eligible to receive unemployment benefits to include self-employed, contract/gig workers, and those that were previously ineligible.
Since the week ending in March 13, 2020 TWC has taken 3 million initial claims and paid out $9.7 billion in unemployment benefits. For more information about unemployment benefits paid or to view an interactive map of claims, visit TWC’s UI by the Numbers page.

To apply for unemployment benefits or to request payment visit ui.texasworkforce.org. All claimants should keep their mailing and email addresses current in the unemployment benefits services system to prevent delays in communication. No action is required by the customer, if qualified TWC will automatically enroll the customer in EB.  The customer should simply continue filing their payment request timely if they are still unemployed.

How does the CARES Act Affect Your Benefits?

Already Approved for Benefits?
Sit tight. You may be eligible for potential Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits for up to 39 weeks AND you are possibly eligible for an additional $600/wk until July 31, 2020.

Are you Self-Employed, a Contract Worker or Someone Without Significant Wages?
CARES provides assistance for Non-Traditional Applicants. Apply for benefits at ui.texasworkforce.org.

Already Applied for Benefits or Exhausted Your Unemployment Insurance? We will contact you. You do not need to follow up with us. And once you apply you will not need to take any additional steps to apply for PUA or other additional benefits. Once you submit your application we will automatically review if for any additional benefits you may be eligible for.

This flow chart represents the options for individuals in search of assistance. If you’ve already been approved for benefits you do not need to do anything. If you are eligible or newly eligible, apply online. If you are a non-traditional applicant, apply online and then wait for a notification about pandemic unemployment assistance. If you have exhausted your benefits, wait for a notification via mail or email, you may then be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of benefits. The additional $600 in benefits allies to all who qualify, no additional action is needed.

TWC Seeks Customer Service Representatives

Available Positions in the Unemployment Insurance Program

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is currently seeking to fill multiple TC Claims Representative (Customer Service Representative II) positions in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program. These positions will be located in McAllen, TX and will be crucial in helping TWC assist customers who have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

What Does a TC Claims Representative do?

The TC Claims Representative will concentrate on receiving and responding to customer inquiries via telephone, social media, email or in person. The work will occur in a center environment and will consist of delivering information regarding the Unemployment Insurance Program in a timely, accurate, and positive and professional manner.  

Are There Advancement Opportunities?

This is a career ladder position with the potential for advancement to a TC Claims Representative (CSR III) within one year! TWC not only offers a competitive salary but the State of Texas benefits package includes everything from health insurance, a retirement plan, and a variety of leave types. Learn about TWC jobs and benefits at www.texasworkforce.org/twcjobs.

How do I apply?

To apply for this position, or another at TWC, you will need to create an account on www.workintexas.com. For assistance with creating an account or applying for positions on www.workintexas.com, staff at local Workforce Solutions offices are available to assist you. To find the contact number for your local Workforce Solutions offices visit https://twc.texas.gov/directory-workforce-solutions-offices-services.

Now Hiring Sign

Helping Impacted Texans

COVID-19 has spread fear and uncertainty throughout Texas. We here at the Texas Workforce Commissioner understand your concern and are working around the clock to provide resources to all Texans. The TWC homepage (https://twc.texas.gov/) has been updated to include important links to direct employers and jobseekers to unique webpages dedicated to providing them with information concerning COVID-19.

TWC will continue to provide up-to-date information on the spread of COVID-19 and governmental response to the virus. The health and well-being of our employers, employees and communities is our top priority. We are committed to being responsive to the needs of our customers as the situation evolves.

Click here for a special COVID-19 message from the TWC Commissioners.

Helping Texans Impacted by COVID-19

You’ve Applied for Unemployment Benefits… Now What?

After you submit your unemployment benefit application, TWC staff will review your information and process your claim. In the meantime, there are a few steps you can take.

  • Set up a Personal Identification Number (PIN) if you have not already done so.
    • Call our automated phone system, Tele-Serv, at 800-558-8321. Select Option 4. Enter your Social Security number (SSN), confirm your SSN, then enter your chosen four-digit PIN. Wait for the message “Your new PIN has been accepted.”
  • Read our Unemployment Benefits Handbook online.
  • Sign up for Electronic Correspondence (EC).
    • Log on to Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) online at: ui.texasworkforce.org and select Electronic Correspondence from the Quick Links menu. UBS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This free service allows you to receive most, but not all, of your unemployment notices and forms electronically in a secure, online mailbox.
  • Choose a benefit payment method, either debit card or direct deposit.

You can change your payment option online or by phone:

  • Log on to UBS at: ui.texasworkforce.org and select Change Payment Option from the Quick Links menu.
    • Call Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and select option 5.
  • Request benefit payment every two weeks online or by phone. Do not wait for TWC to determine your eligibility:
    • Log on to UBS (ui.texasworkforce.org) and select Request a Payment.
    • Call Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and select Option 1.

For more information: https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/request-benefit-payments.

  • Be patient. Although we are processing claims as quickly as possible, it can take at least four weeks for TWC to determine whether you are eligible for benefits. To find out the status of your claim:
    •  Log on to UBS (ui.texasworkforce.org) and select Claim and Payment Status.
    • Call Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and select Option 2.
  • If you are experiencing financial hardship or need health assistance because of COVID-19, dial 2-1-1, the Texas Social Services Hotline, to get the help you need.

For more detailed information on unemployment benefits claims, visit our Unemployment Benefits web page at: https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/unemployment-benefits.

Online application submitted. Hand holds tablet and finger touch screen.

TWC Encourages Employers to Enroll in Shared Work Program

Enrolling in Shared Work Program provides an Alternative to Layoffs During COVID-19

AUSTIN ⎯ The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) encourages employers to enroll in Shared Work program as an alternative to layoffs. The voluntary Shared Work program was developed to help Texas employers and employees withstand a slowdown in business such as the impact of COVID-19.

Shared Work allows employers to supplement their employees’ wages lost because of reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits. Under the program employers can reduce normal weekly work hours for employees in an affected unit by at least 10 percent but not more than 40 percent. Shared Work unemployment benefits are payable to employees who qualify for and participate in an approved Shared Work Plan. Workers may choose not to participate. Employees who qualify will receive both wages and Shared Work unemployment benefits.

The employer can use the Shared Work Plan only for employees whose hours have been reduced. Shared Work benefits can be paid only for wages lost because of a reduction in the employee’s regular hours. Regular hours may not exceed 40 hours. An employee who normally works overtime may not receive shared work benefits for a reduction in their overtime hours.

Shared work employees must:

  • Submit their unemployment claims on Unemployment Benefits Services
  • Be eligible for regular unemployment benefits
  • Accept all work offered by the participating employer
  • Be able and available for work with the employer

For more information on the Shared Work Program or to apply for the program visit https://twc.texas.gov/businesses/shared-work

The Texas Workforce Commission is a state agency dedicated to helping Texas employers, workers and communities prosper economically. For details on TWC and the services it offers in coordination with its network of local workforce development boards, call 512-463-8942 or visit www.texasworkforce.org. To receive notifications about TWC programs and services subscribe to our email updates