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.

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

Unemployment Eligibility FAQ

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

Employer-Ordered Quarantine?

  • 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

Government-Ordered Quarantine?

  • 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

If you lose your job for reasons other than the pandemic, or if you need more information about unemployment eligibility, see Eligibility and Benefit Amounts.

Ready to apply? Logon to the Unemployment Benefits Services portal.

Someone completing an unemployment benefits form.

Helpful Info about Unemployment Benefits

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of needing to file for unemployment insurance benefits, you know it can be a little overwhelming. Job loss is one of the six most stressful life events (along with, in no particular order, moving, death, marriage, divorce, and serious personal injury), and we know trying to navigate those process-deep waters can be frustrating.

To help with that, TWC’s Unemployment Insurance division has been working on some tutorials and videos for individuals in just that situation, to hopefully make understanding the process a little easier.

Following are some resources that provide detail about unemployment benefits in general (are you qualified? how do you get them? what do you have to do to keep them? etc.), determining how much you might get, and information about how you get in and stay connected with the unemployment system online.

If you still can’t find what you need, just call TWC at 1-800-939-6631, M-F 7a-6p, and speak with a customer service rep. And remember, there is also a statewide network of workforce professionals ready to assist you with whatever job-related questions or help you might need.

And once you’ve found that new job, let them know you’re working. It just takes a minute and can be done online.

We know unemployment is no one’s goal, but if/when it happens, we hope this will help.