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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
The following possible scenarios show how the pandemic may affect unemployment benefit eligibility.
Note: Any pension, annuity, or retirement income you receive may affect how much you receive in unemployment benefits if you are eligible. If you get paid your regular pay or sick leave while you are out of work, you may not be eligible or it may affect how much you receive if you are.
Self-Quarantine (But Not Mandated)?
If you self-quarantine and do not have COVID-19, you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits, even if you do not have enough paid sick, vacation, or other leave to cover your time off
If you self-quarantine without your employer’s permission and lose your job, you may not be eligible
If you self-quarantine and have COVID-19, you may be eligible
If your employer sends you home and asks you to quarantine yourself for a specific period of time:
If your employer pays for your time off or allows you to use your accrued paid leave, you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits
If your employer does not pay for your time off and you either do not have paid leave or do not have enough paid leave to cover the time off, you may be eligible
If you are quarantined by government order, you may be eligible
Sick Family Member?
If you stay home to care for a sick family member and lose your job:
You may be eligible if the family member is your minor child
You may not be eligible if the family member is an adult
Employer Closes Business?
If the employer closes the business indefinitely or permanently because of the pandemic and lays off all staff, you may be eligible
If your employer closes the business for a specific period of time and lays off staff during that time:
If the employer does not pay you during the business closure and does not allow you to use paid leave to cover the time off, you may be eligible
If the employer pays staff during the business closure, you may not be eligible
If you use paid leave to cover the specific period of time, you may not be eligible
If the employer pays you for unused paid time during the layoff, you may not be eligible
Employer Keeps Business Open But Lays Off Some Staff?
If the employer keeps the business open, but lays off some staff:
You may be eligible if you are laid off
If the employer pays you for unused paid leave time, you may not be eligible or your eligibility may be delayed
Employer Keeps Business Open But Reduces Staff Working Hours?
If the employer keeps the business open, but reduces staff working hours:
If you are placed on reduced hours, you may be eligible for partial unemployment