Information for COVID-19 FAQ, Employers, Jobseekers, Self-Employed, Child Care and Unemployed After Returning to Work Guidance
TWC Investigating Potential Fraud Cases | How to Complete Work Search Requirements | Employers Unemployment Tax Rates
Work search is suspended statewide for the weeks ending February 20th and February 27th. To assist our customers TWC will extend deadlines for any delays that occur due to the winter storm.

Frequently Asked Questions about Unemployment Insurance Benefits Related to COVID-19

TWC is Mailing 1099-G Forms

Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has mailed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, to all claimants who received Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in 2020.

Claimants can obtain their 1099-G information online by logging onto ui.texasworkforce.org, and selecting View IRS 1099-G Information, or by calling Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321 and selecting Option 2.

You must report all unemployment benefits you received to the IRS on your federal tax return. The 1099-G provides all of the information you need to report your benefits.

For more information, visit: Federal Income Taxes & Your Unemployment Benefits

What is an IRS Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments?

IRS Form 1099-G is a federal tax form that lists the total amount of unemployment benefits TWC paid you in one calendar year. The 1099-G form includes:

  • Unemployment benefits (includes child support payments deducted from your benefits, if any)
  • Federal income tax withheld from unemployment benefits, if any
  • Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) and Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA) payments, if any

To which address did TWC mail the IRS Form 1099-G?

TWC uses the address on file as of December 31, 2020, to mail your 1099-G. If you made an address change after December 31, 2020, we will not be able to change the address where TWC mails your 1099-G because the address change was made after the forms were printed.

What if I disagree with the amount of unemployment benefits TWC reported on the 1099-G?

TWC must report the total amount of benefits paid in the prior year. You may review your payment history on ui.texasworkforce.org to compare your list of payments.

For more information, see: If Your 1099-G Amount is Different than you Expect

What if I had an overpayment?

The amount we list on your 1099-G includes any overpaid benefits. We report the total amount of benefits we paid you in the previous calendar year, regardless of whether you repaid an overpayment. If you repaid part or all of an overpayment, the IRS allows you to deduct the repaid amounts on your tax return.

For more information on deducting an overpayment on your tax return, see the IRS instructions or contact the IRS or a tax professional.

How can I access my 1099-G on Tele-Serv or order a duplicate?

You can call Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321 and select Option 2 to find the total amount of benefits TWC reported to the IRS or order a duplicate.

How can I access my 1099-G on Unemployment Benefits Services?

You can log on to ui.texasworkforce.org and select IRS Tax Information from the Quick Links menu to find the total amount of benefits TWC reported to the IRS. You can view any 1099-G from any previous year in which you received benefits by selecting Select Another Year at the bottom of the IRS Tax Information page. The IRS 1099-G Details section on UBS provides the total amount of benefits paid during the prior calendar year and the amount of federal income tax withheld, if any.

Do I need to attach IRS Form 1099-G to my income tax return?

No. You do not need to attach IRS Form 1099-G to your income tax return, but you do need the information on the form to submit in your income tax return.

Can I file my taxes without a copy of my IRS Form 1099-G?

Yes. You can file tax returns without IRS Form 1099-G if you know the total amount of benefits that TWC paid you, the amount of federal withholding (if applicable), and TWC’s Federal Employer ID Number (FEIN), 74-2764775.

For more information, see: Reporting Your Benefits

What is TWC’s Federal Employer ID Number (FEIN)?

74-2764775

I didn’t receive IRS Form 1099-G. Can TWC send another copy?

Yes. You can request a duplicate copy of IRS Form 1099-G by calling Tele-Serv and selecting Option 2 or by logging on to ui.texasworkforce.org. You do not need a paper copy of IRS Form 1099-G to file with your tax return.

For more information, see: Requesting a Duplicate 1099-G

I received an IRS Form 1099-G, but I never applied for benefits. How do I report fraud?

If you suspect a claim was fraudulently filed using your Social Security number, you should report it immediately.

  • Upload your statement on the UI Fraud Submission portal, and under the Type of Submission drop down menu, select “Report Suspected Fraud,” “Did not file the UI claim,” or “Did not file the UI claim but now need to.”
  • Send an email to TWC.fraud@twc.state.tx.us
  • Leave a message on the TWC Fraud Hotline at 800-252-3642
  • Complete the Contact Request Form

For more information, visit: Reporting Fraud

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Continued Assistance Act – CARES Act Extension

On December 27, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Continued Assistance Act, which extends the unemployment benefits claim programs created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Once the legislation is enacted, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will work to implement the new legislation as quickly as possible. However, TWC must wait on guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor before the provisions of the Act can be implemented. This may cause you to see a break between unemployment payments. If you have an existing claim, you do not need to take any further action. TWC will automatically update your claim and inform you of your potential eligibility. We will update this page with new information when it becomes available.

Note: TWC cannot take any action prior to the effective date of any new legislation. 

Texas Adds New Jobs!

The Texas economy continues to reopen, and Texans are returning to work. There are a large number of available jobs providing Texans with new work opportunities. For help finding your next job, please visit www.MyTXCareer.com or www.WorkInTexas.com and use the virtual and in person services at local Workforce Solutions offices throughout the state. 

If You Need Help…

You may also want to call the 2-1-1 system to learn more about the human services available in your community, such as rent and utility assistance, SNAP food stamp benefits, health insurance programs, and much more. Contact a 2-1-1 specialist by calling the number 211 or by visiting www.211.org

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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

When you request payment online at Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) or through Tele-Serv, you are now required to answer a new COVID-19-related question. Depending on your answer, you may be required to respond to 13 new COVID-19-related statements before you can continue and submit your payment request.

What questions will I need to answer?
The questions claimants will need to answer are similar to those they answered when originally applying for PUA claims. Claimants will be asked if they are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and to select a statment describing their situation. 

Why do I need to answer additional questions?
These questions are a requirement as part of the CARES Act. TWC has reformatted our system to be in compliance with these requirements.

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Overview

 

Here at the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), our number-one priority is helping unemployed people find their next job and helping employers hire the best staff possible. We hope to ensure that every unemployed individual who is eligible for unemployment benefits in Texas gets their benefits during this COVID-19 crisis.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented changes to the lives of individuals all across Texas and across the globe. Since March 14, 2020, TWC has helped more than 5 million people whose employment is affected by the pandemic file unemployment claims. For us at TWC, that’s the equivalent to nearly 5 years’ worth  of claims in less than 6 months.

First and foremost, to those who have been laid off or furloughed, are unsure about your employment situation or are worried for your business: we see you, we hear you and we are working around the clock to provide the resources and help you need.

Prior to COVID-19, the average number of daily calls to TWC was about 13,000 and the record number of calls in one day was 60,000. Early on in the pandemic, people made more than 3 million calls to our 800 numbers in a 24-hour period. That number does not reflect the number of people applying for unemployment benefits, but the number of times people were calling.

We have expanded both our technological and staff capabilities to meet customer needs during the pandemic. TWC has more than 1,500 staff helping support unemployment insurance services and has upgraded and expanded telephone infrastructure and website capacity. TWC is constantly hiring emergency hires and utilizing volunteers from other TWC departments, other state agencies, state legislature aides and external partners. We added additional servers and memory that allows more people to access our online Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS). We upgraded our hardware in support of our UI Benefits System and added four third-party call centers to help take claims.

TWC also:

  • Hired more than 150 emergency staff and have been hiring more staff to take unemployment claims and serve customers in each of our Tele-Centers.
  • Trained 450 staff  from other TWC departments to help take claims.
  • Added four contract call centers with 1,800 staff to supplement TWC’s four original Tele Centers for a total of 8 call centers.
  • Added additional volunteers from other state agencies.
  • Created an Artificial intelligence chat bot “Larry the Chat Bot” and added it to every page of our  website. To date, Larry the Chat Bot has assisted more than 2 million Texans and answered more than 10 million questions.
  • Extended our Tele-Center hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

 

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Most Recent Questions

 

I was on unemployment, rehired and then laid off. Do I need to reapply?

If it has been three weeks or less since your last payment request:

  • Request payment at ui.texasworkforce.org or call 1-800-558-8321.
  • Be sure to report any hours you worked and any earnings during the period requested.

If it has been more than three weeks since your last payment request:

  • Apply for Benefits again at ui.texasworkforce.org or by calling our Tele-Center at 800-939-6631.
  • To help TWC activate your claim quickly, select layoff as the reason you lost your job if you were furloughed or the business closed.

Some people are getting paid by their employer because the business got a Payment Protection Plan (PPP) loan. In that case, does the worker qualify for unemployment?

  • If an employee returns to work full time, they are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits and must stop requesting payment as soon as they return to work, even if their employer does not pay them right away.
  • If an employee returns to work part time, they may be eligible to receive benefits if their hours have been reduced.
  • If a claimant is working while receiving unemployment benefits, they must report their work and earnings for each week they worked when they request benefit payment.
  • All claimants must report payments from their employer for wages paid, sick leave, vacation leave, COVID-19 payment and payments from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The amount of wages or payments a claimant receives determines if they are eligible to receive benefits.

When businesses start to reopen, if an employee doesn’t feel safe going back, and therefore remains unemployed, can they still receive unemployment benefits?

Each unemployment benefit  claim case is evaluated on an individual basis. However, because of the COVID-19 emergency, a claimant may remain eligible for unemployment benefits if they refused suitable work for any of the following reasons:

  • People 65 years or older, and/or people with medical issues, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or a weakened immune system, or are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID‑19. (Source: DSHS website)
  • Household member at high risk – People 65 years or older or are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 (Source DSHS website).
  • Diagnosed with COVID - the individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered.
  • Family member with COVID - anybody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered and 14 days have not yet passed.
  • Quarantined – individual is currently in 14-day quarantine due to close contact exposure to COVID-19.
  • Child care – Child’s school or daycare closed and no reasonable alternatives are available.

For more information see: TWC Guidance to Unemployment Claimants

If a business chooses not to reopen even though they are allowed to by the governor, does that business have to pay more for their employees’ unemployment benefits?

The law provides for chargeback protection for an employer if its workers file UI claims based on COVID-19-related circumstances.

How does chargeback protection work for reimbursing employers?

Reimbursing Employer – CARES Act

In accordance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and beginning with the third quarter of 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission will be implementing the fifty (50) percent credit payment relief plan for all eligible reimbursing employers.

The relief information will be reflected on the reimbursing accounts quarterly statements, which will show all charges applied to the reimbursing account, the fifty (50) percent credit payment associated with the accounts for eligible charges, and the final balance due for the quarter.

Beginning in November 2020, updated reimbursing statements for the first and second quarters of 2020 will be mailed out to reimbursing employers that will reflect the fifty (50) percent credit payment. Employers who have not made any payments on their previous statements will have until December 31, 2020, to make their payment without interest charges.

For those employers who previously paid all charges, we encourage them to leave the credit on their account and use it against future charges, but a refund can be requested in the form of a paper check.

For employers who want to request a refund, please have an officer send an email with the account number, the company name, the officer’s name and business title, and refund request of all available credit to: tax.caresrefund@twc.state.tx.us.

For questions regarding the charges listed on the statement, please contact https://twc.texas.gov/businesses/employer-benefits-services.

Please ignore any October 2020 default notice that you may have received. They were sent in error. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Information for the Public

How do I apply for benefits?

Apply for benefits or check the status of your claim online on Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also call our Tele-Center at 1-800-939-6631 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week and speak with a customer service representative.

For more information, see our tutorial on How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits Online

What's the best time to call for unemployment information?

Our Tele-Center (800-939-6631) is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. However, we are experiencing extremely high call volumes.

When our phone lines are busy, we recommend you search online for more information:

  • Ask “Larry the Chat Bot.” Larry can answer many unemployment questions. Select the “Chat With Us” link at the bottom right of any TWC web page.
  • Check out the web pages listed on our Unemployment Benefits web page. These pages contain detailed information on applying for benefits, managing your claim, requesting payment, and changing your payment option, to name a few.
  • Read our Unemployment Benefits Handbook. If you receive TWC documents by U.S. mail, we mailed you a paper copy. You can also read it online here.

If you need help with your claim issues, we recommend calling our Tele-Center at 7 a.m., especially on the weekend. You may be able to get through more easily then. We appreciate your patience!

Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but can also experience a high volume of visitors. If you have trouble logging on, we recommend trying again late at night or early in the morning.

How much of one’s income is usually covered?

The answer to this question will vary from person to person. Unemployment benefits are part of an employer-paid program that provides temporary, partial income replacement to qualified individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. For more information on how we determine your eligibility and how much you may be paid, see Eligibility & Benefit Amounts.

You can also estimate your potential benefit amount using our online Unemployment Benefits Estimator.

How do I qualify for benefits?

TWC evaluates your unemployment benefits claim eligibility based on your past wages, how you lost your job (type of job separation) and all ongoing eligibility requirements. You must meet all requirements in each of these three areas to qualify for unemployment benefits.

  • Past Wages
    Your past wages are one of the eligibility requirements and the basis of your potential unemployment benefit amount. We use the taxable wages, earned in Texas, your employer(s) reported paying you during your base period to calculate your benefits. You can estimate your potential benefit amount using our online Unemployment Benefits Estimator. If you worked in more than one state, see If You Earned Wages in More than One State.
  • Types of Job Separation
    To be eligible for benefits based on your job separation, you must be either unemployed or working reduced hours through no fault of your own. Examples of eligible job separations can include layoff, reduction in hours or wages not related to misconduct, being fired for reasons other than misconduct, or quitting with good cause related to work. See: Eligibility & Benefit Amounts.
  • Ongoing Eligibility Requirements
    In addition to the past wages and job separation eligibility requirements, there are requirements you must continue to meet to stay eligible. See Ongoing Eligibility Requirements for Receiving Unemployment Benefits.

If you make less than $3 an hour as a server or bartender, will you get only half since unemployment doesn’t pay you your entire wage?

Employers should be reporting tips as wages to the Texas Workforce Commission, which would increase any potential benefit amount you would receive if you are eligible. In Texas, your combined cash and tip wage rate per hour should at least meet the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If you do not earn enough in tips to raise your hourly wage to $7.25 per hour, your employer is obligated to pay you the difference.

For more information see:

The potential benefit amount will vary from person to person. You can estimate your potential benefit amount on our online Unemployment Benefits Estimator.

For more information on how we calculate your potential benefit amount, see Eligibility & Benefit Amounts

What do I do if I was previously denied benefits due to my base period?

After you first apply for benefits, TWC will send you a Statement of Wages & Potential Benefit Amounts listing the wages you earned in your base period, which is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the date you applied. If the statement does not show all your wages, or if the wages listed are not correct, call TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 and ask TWC for a wage investigation. We will send you a new statement showing the results of the investigation. At that time, if you disagree with the new statement, you can appeal.

If you are still not eligible after our investigation, you can reapply after the next calendar quarter changes. If you did not have enough wages in your base period but earned more in the last completed quarter before you applied, you may become eligible and can reapply when the next quarter starts after the date you first applied for benefits.

Also, if you were out of work for a long period during your base period because of a medically verifiable illness, injury, disability or pregnancy, you may be able to use an alternate base period. Call a TWC Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 to ask if you qualify for an alternate base period.

For more information see Eligibility & Benefit Amounts

Is there a waiting period before someone can receive benefits?

The waiting week is the first payable week of an  unemployment benefits claim. Under normal circumstances, TWC cannot pay for the first week of a claim until an individual receives two times their weekly benefit amount and returns to full-time work or has exhausted their benefits. However, Texas Governor Greg Abbott waived the waiting week for all claimants on March 17, 2020, which allowed TWC to provide immediate relief to the unemployed.

How long does it take to receive benefits?

Under normal circumstances, it can take a minimum of four weeks for a claimant to receive benefits after they apply. The unprecedented number of unemployment claims filed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can affect this. Please be patient. TWC will notify you of your eligibility as soon as possible.

How do I get paid unemployment benefits?

Do not wait for TWC to determine your eligibility. Request benefit payment on the date listed on the filing instructions we provided you when you applied, and every two weeks after that on your filing day. If you are working part-time while receiving benefits, you must report all work and earnings for each week you worked when you request benefit payment. You must report payments from your employer for wages paid, sick leave, vacation leave, COVID-19 payment and payments from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). If you lost your part-time job but are still working full-time, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits because you are not unemployed. Request payment one of two ways:

  • Log on to Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) and select “Request a Payment”
  • Call Tele-Serv, our automated system, at 800-558-8321 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and select Option 1.

Where can I find the Unemployment Benefits Handbook?

You can view or download our online PDF version of the Unemployment Benefits HandbookPDF. It is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Do I have to search for work?

Yes. As Texas continues to reopen, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) reinstated work search requirements for all claimants beginning November 1, 2020. Work search requirements were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of November 1, 2020, to remain eligible for unemployment benefits claimants are required to: 

Claimants must certify they are completing their required number of work searches each week when they request benefit payment

For help finding your next job, please visit www.MyTXCareer.com or www.WorkInTexas.com and use the virtual and in person services at local Workforce Solutions offices throughout the state.

For more information see Work Search Requirements for Unemployment Benefits

How can I get help with my career or with finding a job?

Skills Enhancement initiative and Metrix Learning

Thinking about changing careers or getting a different kind of job? TWC offers Texas residents the opportunity to improve their skills and learn new skills through our Skills Enhancement initiative and Metrix Learning. 

Metrix Learning provides unlimited access to over 5,000 Skillsoft courses in English and Spanish plus more specialized courses, such as medical billing and coding and mathematics. Each course completion that you pass can build your skill level, and a Metrix course that is completed with a passing score can be one of your work search activities. 

For more details see our Skills Enhancement Initiative Career Tools webpage.

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How to Use the UI Website/Tele Centers

How do I set up a Personal Identification Number?

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.”

Record your PIN and keep it in a safe place. You will need it again over the life of your claim. If you apply for unemployment benefits again in the future, you will need your PIN, your user name and your password. Make sure you keep this information on hand.

Do not share your PIN with anyone. Your PIN is the same as your legal signature.

My PIN has expired. How do I reset it?

If you have never applied for unemployment before, you do not need to reset or establish your PIN before applying for benefits online. The PIN set up will occur during the online benefits application process.

If you try to apply online using Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) but you got a message saying your PIN and SSN is not a valid combination, you get 3 chances to enter the correct PIN. If you receive a message that your PIN is revoked, you will need to call the PIN reset department (number to call is displayed on the online error page). If your PIN has been revoked, your only option is to call to get your PIN reset.

Resetting Your PIN on Tele-Serv

If you revoke your PIN and you are eligible for self-serve reset, on the same Tele-Serv call you may be able to reset your PIN by providing personal information from your claim, such as:

  • Date of birth
  • Texas driver license or ID number
  • Telephone number
  • Amount of your last benefit payment
  • Part of your bank/credit union account number

If you hang up on Tele-Serv before you reset your PIN, you will be unable to reset it.

How do I create my user ID and password?

If you need to create a User ID or Password, select "Sign Up for a User ID" on the Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) logon app. For additional help, see our tutorial: How to Create User IDs & Passwords

What if I forgot my User ID?

Select "Forgot User ID" from the Quick Links menu on the on the Unemployment Benefit Services logon page. You can retrieve your user ID with this function only if you provided an email address when you created your user ID. If you did not provide one, call our Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 for assistance.

I keep trying to log in and the system tells me my Social Security Number is already in use. What causes this problem?

There are many reasons why someone may get that message:

  • They have a very old claim that they do not remember, but our system does
  • They are a victim of ID theft
  • They submitted a claim under a previous or maiden name and forgot that they did
  • Somebody keyed in the wrong SSN by accident when they applied and we have not caught the error yet

Because of confidentiality issues, this problem must be handled by our Tele-Center directly. Please call 800-939-6631. For more information, see: Simple Mistake or Identity Theft

If I am about to exhaust my unemployment benefits, or recently exhausted my benefits, can I get an extension and/or would I qualify for DUA?

Under the Federal Stimulus Bill, your benefits may be extended.

If you recently exhausted benefits, no action is needed from you. We will determine if you qualify and notify you by mail or electronic correspondence of your eligibility.

Can I receive my payment by direct deposit?

Yes. You can request that TWC deposit unemployment benefit payments directly into your personal checking or savings account at any United States bank or credit union. You can sign up for direct deposit or change your payment option online or by phone:

  • Online at Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS). Select Payment Option from the Quick Links menu.
  • By phone using Tele-Serv. Call 800-558-8321 and select option 5.

For more information see Receiving Benefit Payments by Direct Deposit.

Can I change my payment method?

You can change your payment option online or by phone. Log on to UBS and select Change Payment Option from the Quick Links menu. or call Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and select option 5.

Will my appeal hearing occur as scheduled?

Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Appeals hearings are proceeding as scheduled. However, due to the unprecedented number of unemployment benefit claims that resulted from the pandemic, we are experiencing a significant delay processing and scheduling appeals. We are working to resolve all issues as quickly as possible.

If you have a hearing scheduled, please participate according to the directions on the Notice of Hearing. If you have any questions or concerns about participating in the hearing related to COVID-19, please contact your hearing officer directly using the contact information on your Notice of Hearing.

I'm not working due to a shelter-in-place order. Can I get benefits?

For eligibility information, visit our COVID-19 Resources Job Seekers page. Select Unemployment Eligibility Scenarios for Job Seekers in the Unemployment Benefits section.

Why isn't my employer in the system?

If your employer is not listed, your claim can still proceed. When you apply for benefits for the first time, you can manually enter the employer name or business name if you have worked for this employer for more than 30 hours. If you haven't worked than more than 30 hours for your current employer, you must list your previous employer. If you are reapplying for benefits, you may need to call the Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 so we can add the correct employer to your claim.

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Employer Questions

 

What is the Shared Work program?

If your business has slowed down due to the pandemic and you need to reduce employee working hours, you may be able to avoid laying off employees by submitting a shared work plan. The Shared Work program provides Texas employers with an alternative to layoffs. TWC developed this voluntary program to help Texas employers and employees withstand a slowdown in business.

Shared Work allows employers to:

  • Supplement their employees’ wages lost because of reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits.
  • Reduce normal weekly work hours for employees in an affected unit by at least 10 percent but not more than 40 percent; the reduction must affect at least 10 percent of the employees in that unit.

Notification for Employers

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.

In order for a salaried exempt employee to participate in Shared Work, their hours worked and salary must be reduced based on Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guidelines. If you have questions on FLSA guidelines, please contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.

Claimants who do not have enough wages in their base period to qualify for regular unemployment insurance (UI) are not eligible for the Shared Work program. If such a claimant was included on a Shared Work application, they will be removed from the employer’s Shared Work plan.

Claimants who do not qualify for the Shared Work program or regular UI may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is a program authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that provides unemployment benefits to individuals who do not qualify for or have exhausted their regular UI benefits. These claimants must file an individual regular UI claim (outside of the Shared Work program) and TWC will determine PUA eligibility. While receiving PUA, these claimants must request payment every two weeks and report their work and earnings. TWC will deduct any earnings from their weekly PUA benefit amount.

To apply for benefits online, see Unemployment Benefits Services: https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/unemployment-benefits-services

For more information, see TWC’s Shared Work web page.

What if I must close my business temporarily or permanently?

If you have to close your business either temporarily or permanently and need to lay off employees, you may be able to submit a mass claim for unemployment benefits on their behalf. The Mass Claims program streamlines the unemployment benefit claims process for employers faced with either temporary or permanent layoffs. Employers can submit basic worker information on behalf of their employees to initiate claims for unemployment benefits. You can submit a mass claim request on Employer Benefits Services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information, see: Mass Claims for Unemployment Benefits at www.texasworkforce.org or contact TWC’s Mass Claims Coordinator at 512-463-2999.

What if my business has slowed down?

If your business has slowed down due to the pandemic and you want to keep your employees but need to reduce employee working hours, you may be able to avoid laying off employees by submitting a shared work plan. Log on to Employer Benefits Services (EBS) to submit your Shared Work Plan online. EBS online is fast, easy, secure, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, see Shared Work

If you plan to lay off your employees completely, consider submitting a Mass Claim for all your affected employees.  The Mass Claims program streamlines the unemployment benefit claims process for employers faced with either temporary or permanent layoffs. Employers can submit basic worker information on behalf of their employees to initiate claims for unemployment benefits. For more information, see Mass Claims for Unemployment Benefits

Employers are encouraged to use TWC’s Employer Benefits Services (EBS) to help manage unemployment claims and  receive TWC messages faster using electronic correspondence. Sign up for an EBS account online 24/7. For more information and user guides, see: Employer Benefits Services

What if an employer has questions about an unemployment claim that was filed?

Employers should contact TWC online at uicentral.twc.state.tx.us. If you do not have Internet access, call the Tele-Center employer number at 866-274-1722 or call the unique 800 number listed on the claim notice we mailed to you when the claim was initially filed.

As an employer, how do I file a mass claim?

Employers can submit basic worker information on behalf of their employees to initiate claims for unemployment benefits using Employer Benefits Services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, see Mass Claims for Unemployment Benefits

What happens now if we fire someone for misconduct for something that has nothing to do with COVID-19?

You will receive a notice from us asking why the person was separated (lost their job). It is critical that you respond so that we can investigate whether they are eligible. We encourage you to sign up for electronic correspondence on Employer Benefits Services when you receive our notice.

What do I do if I have reopened and my employees were only off for three weeks but now they do not want to come back to work? They would prefer to stay home and get paid unemployment?

If you offered any of your employees a chance to return to work and they refused, TWC needs to know. Please report each individual who refused to return to work on our online Employer Work Refusal Documentation form. We will take appropriate action.

Claimants may continue to refuse work if they have been affected by COVID-19 and have an acceptable reason. See TWC provides Acceptable Reasons for Work Refusal.

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Employee Questions

 

What about safety at work? Can they fire me if I do not return? Where do I file a claim?

As per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are required to protect their workforce.

The issue does not fall under Chapter 21 of the Labor Code, because the reason provided for termination is not because of a disability, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or sex.

Thus, in this situation, I recommend referring the inquiries of this nature to Department of Labor, OSHA.

We have provided acceptable reasons for work refusal in this press release.

If an employee is afraid to go to work, are they protected from being fired?

Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for those who are concerned about symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 are accessible online. These guidelines do not currently include voluntary or involuntary self-quarantining for those who have merely been exposed to a higher-than-normal risk of coronavirus. Naturally, good judgment and common sense go a long way, and employees who voluntarily self-quarantine should be treated the same way that any other employee would be treated who reports absences due to medical conditions, i.e., apply the company's normal medical absence policy.

Employees who are told to stay home for such reasons would be able to use available paid medical leave under whatever paid leave policy the company has.

While on paid medical leave, they would not be considered "unemployed" under TWC laws and would not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

If they are on unpaid leave, they could be considered unemployed if they are out long enough to satisfy the test for either partial or total unemployment (for those definitions, see our book Especially for Texas Employers online).

Any claimant who is able to file a claim for unemployment benefits must meet the eligibility requirements in order to actually receive benefits. Most notably, the claimant must be medically able to work and be available and actively searching for full-time work.

If a business closes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the employer needs to inform TWC and we will protect their account from charge. Call our Tele-Center at the employer-only contact number: 866-274-1722

My employer will not let me come to work during the COVID-19 pandemic and I am losing wages. How can I apply for unemployment benefits?

If your employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for benefits online using Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS). UBS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

You can also apply for benefits by phone through our Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

For more information, see COVID-19 Resources Job Seekers

Would workers have the right to unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they refused to go to work?

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S Department of Labor is responsible for administering and enforcing FMLA for most employees. Most federal and certain congressional employees are also covered by the law but are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or Congress. If you believe that your rights under the FMLA have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division or file a private lawsuit against your employer in court. For additional information, visit the Wage and Hour Division Website or call 1-866-4-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).

Has the COVID-19 emergency had any effect on how much you can make over the weekly benefit amount before your benefit payment is reduced?

No. You may earn up to 25% of your weekly benefit amount before we reduce your benefits for that week. If you earn more, then we will reduce your benefit payment by the amount that is over 25%. If you earn more than your weekly benefit amount plus 25%, we cannot pay you benefits for that week. For more information, see How Work Affects Your Benefits

If you are working part-time while receiving benefits, you must also report all work and earnings for each week when you request benefit payments. If you do not, you may cause an overpayment that you must repay and you may be charged with unemployment fraud.

For more information, see:

Do substitute teachers qualify for unemployment?

If you are a substitute teacher and are not getting paid by your educational employer, you may be eligible for benefits. You can apply for benefits either online at any time using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. However, we may not be able to use your school wages for your claim. For more information, see the Reasonable Assurance section here: https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/if-you-worked-school

For people coming back from FMLA/Maternity leave and have no jobs to return to – what are the recommendations for them?

Individuals who have been released by their medical professionals to return to work, but whose employer has temporarily closed or reduced their staff due to COVID-19, can apply for unemployment benefits. For more information, see: Applying for Unemployment Benefits

Can individuals who are about to exhaust their unemployment benefits, or who have recently exhausted their benefits get an extension and/or would they qualify for DUA?

If a claimant recently exhausted benefits, no action is needed from them. We will determine if they qualify for additional benefits under the CARES Act and notify them by mail or electronic correspondence of their eligibility.

If an individual applied for unemployment benefits but lacked the necessary wages to qualify, no action is needed from them. We will determine if they qualify under the CARES Act and notify them by mail or electronic correspondence of their eligibility.

Claimants who are in a hardship situation should contact 2-1-1 for additional resources such as help with utilities, rent, food, transportation, childcare, child support, finding work, education or training, and other benefits.

Do Gig economy workers qualify for benefits based on COVID-19?

Individuals who are self-employed, are contract workers, or previously worked in a position that did not report wages, may qualify for unemployment under CARES Act. See: Self-Employed Texans and the CARES Act.

If an individual applied for unemployment benefits but lacked the necessary wages to qualify, no action is needed from them. We will determine if they qualify under the CARES Act and notify them by mail or electronic correspondence of their eligibility.

Does paid time off (PTO) have to be used before being considered jobless/unemployed for purposes of filing for unemployment compensation?

No, claimants do not have to use paid time off before applying for unemployment benefits. They can apply as soon as they are laid off or otherwise unable to work due to COVID-19. However, if they are being paid their normal salary, they would not be considered unemployed.

My work is going to pay me. How do I stop UI?

Claimants should stop requesting payment and can notify a customer service representative of pay already received for weeks already filed by calling our Tele-Center at 800-939-6631.

Can you get intermittent unemployment benefits? Can you pause your payouts for a period of time and pick them back up again?

It may be possible. Your claim is good for a complete year. As long as you have a remaining claim balance and meet all eligibility requirements, you may be able to reopen your claim. Call TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 if you have not requested payment in more than three weeks. TWC will determine if you are still eligible.

How do I get help with reporting fraud?

A: If you do not want your name, address and telephone disclosed, then you need to make an anonymous report on the Fraud Hotline at (800) 252-3642.

If you would prefer to submit your information via email you may do so to TWC.fraud@TWC.state.tx.us.

See: How and Where to Report Fraud

 

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CARES ACT

How does the national stimulus package work for Texans?

People who lost their job or had reduced hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. For more information see: COVID-19 Resources Job Seekers.

What is the Continued Assistance Act?

On December 27, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Continued Assistance Act. The Act extends  all pandemic unemployment benefits claim programs established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

Self-employed/independent contractors

If you are self-employed, a contract worker, or previously worked in a position that did not report wages, you may qualify for unemployment and can apply.

If you already applied for unemployment benefits, TWC will determine if you qualify for either regular unemployment or any unemployment programs established through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and TWC will notify you by mail or electronic correspondence of your eligibility.

Apply for benefits online or by phone:

  • Apply online at Unemployment Benefit Services (UBS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by selecting Apply for Benefits. 
  • Call our Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week and speak with a customer service representative.

See: Self-Employed Texans and the CARES Act

Are UI benefits taxable?

Unemployment benefits are taxable income reportable to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under federal law. You must report all unemployment benefits you receive to the IRS on your federal tax return.

If you are receiving benefits, you may have federal income taxes withheld from your unemployment benefit payments. Tax withholding is completely voluntary; withholding taxes is not required. If you ask us to withhold taxes, we will withhold 10 percent of the gross amount of each payment before sending it to you.

To start or stop federal tax withholding for unemployment benefit payments:

See: Federal Income Taxes & Your Unemployment Benefits

What is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)?

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program is extended for an additional 11 weeks, from 13 weeks up to 24 weeks total.

To be eligible for PEUC, claimants must:

  • Have a claim dated on or after July 8, 2018
  • Have exhausted their regular unemployment claim by March 7, 2021
  • Not be eligible for a regular claim in any other state or Canada
  • Have not returned to work since their last claim
  • The last week that TWC can pay PEUC benefits is the week ending March 13, 2021, or April 10, 2021, depending on when you reach the 24-week limit.

See: Types of Regular and Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Claims

What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program temporarily expands unemployment benefit eligibility to self-employed workers, gig economy workers, part-time workers, and others impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who might not otherwise be traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits.

PUA benefits may be available for those claimants who: 

  • Lost their jobs or self-employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Did not earn enough wages in the 18 months before they applied for benefits to qualify for a regular unemployment benefits claim
  • Exhausted their regular unemployment, PEUC and Extended Benefits (EB) or did not qualify for these claims

The PUA program is extended for an additional 11 weeks, from 39 weeks up to 50 weeks total. The first week TWC can pay benefits on this extension is the benefit week ending January 2, 2021. The last date TWC can accept any new PUA claim will be the week of March 7, 2021. The last payable week for most PUA claims will be benefit week ending (BWE) March 13, 2021. PUA claimants who have not reached the 50-week limit may be eligible to receive benefits during a phase-out period that ends with BWE April 10, 2021. 

For more information, see: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

For more information, also see: Self-Employed Texans and the CARES Act.

What is Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)?

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program provides a $300 weekly payment in addition to any weekly unemployment benefit payment through BWE March 13, 2021. The first week TWC can pay this additional payment is the benefit week ending January 2, 2021. TWC cannot pay any FPUC payments for any weeks from July 27 to December 27, 2020, as per federal guidelines. Claimants must be receiving regular unemployment, PEUC, Extended Benefits (EB), or PUA to receive this payment. 

For more information, see: Types of Regular and Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Claims

How do you extend your benefits?

If you recently exhausted benefits, no action is needed from you. We will determine if you qualify and notify you by mail or electronic correspondence if you are eligible for Extended Benefits (EB) or any CARES Act extension program claim.

For more information, see: Extended Unemployment Benefits in Texas

What sort of documents does a person need to show their unemployment was because of the pandemic? 

Claimants are required to certify that their unemployment was caused by COVID-19 when they request benefit payment. TWC may ask claimants to provide documents if necessary.

You want employers to file one mass claim on behalf of workers to reduce the traffic. Noting no chargeback. How would that work for the person receiving benefits?

The employer provides all the information regarding the worker to TWC. This allows TWC to set up claims for every affected worker quickly. The worker does not have to apply for benefits. Once the claims are established, affected workers only have to request benefit payment every two weeks.

See: Mass Claims for Unemployment Benefits

How can the employee verify the employer filed their claim and put the correct information in to the system? 

TWC will mail information to the employee at the address given to TWC by the employer.

What is the difference between PEUC and PUA? Do different people qualify for one and not the other? Can folks get both benefits?

Through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), TWC can extend regular unemployment benefits by an additional 24 weeks. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program temporarily expands unemployment benefit eligibility to self-employed workers, gig economy workers, part-time workers, and others impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who might not otherwise be traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits.

See: Types of Regular and Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Claims

I am a part-time worker who lost my job because of a COVID-19 reason? Am I still eligible for unemployment benefits?

Yes. Part-time workers may be eligible for partial benefits, which are calculated by taking into consideration your recent wages. Claimants under this scenario should be prepared to provide wage verification documentation to assist us with expediting UI benefit eligibility. Applicants will need to provide self-certification that they are (1) partially or fully unemployed, or (2) unable and unavailable to work because of COVID-19.

What if I have COVID-19 or need to care for a family member who has COVID-19? Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

You may be eligible. Apply for benefits either online or by phone:

TWC will investigate your claim and notify you of your eligibility.

What if my child’s school or daycare shut down? Am I eligible for UI benefits?

If you rely on a school, daycare, or another facility, elderly parent, or another household member to care for a child so that you can work — and that facility has been shut down or the caretaker is not available because of COVID-19 — you may be eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if you have to stay home and take care of your child. However, if you can telework from home with pay, you may be ineligible for benefits unless you are primarily responsible for your child's schooling.

What if I refuse a job to stay home because my child’s school or daycare closed? Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

You may have good cause to refuse suitable work if your child’s school or daycare closed because of COVID-19, and you have no reasonable alternative.

Under the CARES Act, an individual may potentially be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if “A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work.”

For more information, see TWC’s Guidance to Unemployment Claimants.

What if my child attends online classes at home because of COVID-19? Am I eligible for PUA benefits if I stay home too?

If the school system only provides online instruction because of COVID-19, it is not open for students to physically attend school. Therefore, it is considered closed under the CARES Act. You may be eligible to receive PUA benefits if you have to stay home and take care of your child. However, if you can telework from home with pay, you may be ineligible for benefits unless you are primarily responsible for your child's schooling.

What if my child attends online classes at home for only part of the week? Am I eligible for PUA benefits if I stay home too?

If your child attends online classes at home some days of the week because of COVID-19 and attends school in person for the rest of the week, the school is considered closed under the CARES Act for the days your child attends school at home. You may be eligible to receive PUA benefits if you have to stay home and take care of your child. However, if you can telework from home with pay, you may be ineligible for benefits unless you are primarily responsible for your child's schooling.

What if my child can choose between online classes at home or classes at the school? Am I eligible for benefits if I stay home while my child attends online classes?

If your child has the option to attend school in-person full time, it is open under the CARES Act. You would be ineligible for PUA unless you have to stay home for any of the following allowable reasons under the CARES Act:

  • Diagnosed with or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
  • Family member diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Providing care to family or member of your household who was diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Unable to work due to closure of your child’s school or childcare facility
  • Unable to reach place of employment because of a quarantine or shelter-in-place order
  • Ordered by medical provider or health official to self-quarantine
  • Unable to begin or reach new job due to the closure or shelter-in-place order
  • Became breadwinner or major support of household due to death of the head of household
  • Quit job as a direct result of COVID-19
  • Place of employment closed

Can I get paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to stay home while my child attends online classes?

If you must stay home because you are the primary caregiver for a student, you may be eligible for paid leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). See the U.S. Department of Labor’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for more information regarding the additional leave provided under the FFCRA. If you are already receiving paid leave from your employer, you would be ineligible for PUA.

What if I have been advised by a health care provider to quarantine myself because of exposure to coronavirus? Am I eligible for UI benefits?

If you must self-quarantine due to exposure or possible exposure to the coronavirus, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.

I was about to start a new job and now cannot get there because of an outbreak. Am I eligible for UI benefits?

Under the CARES Act, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. You may also be eligible if you were immediately laid off from a new job and do not have a sufficient work history to qualify for benefits under traditional circumstances. Claimants under these scenarios should be prepared to provide wage verification documentation to assist us with expediting benefit eligibility.

Applicants will need to provide self-certification that they are (1) partially or fully unemployed, or (2) unable and unavailable to work because of COVID-19.

Is anyone explicitly excluded from receiving assistance under the CARES Act?

Workers who are able to perform their jobs through paid telework and those receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave are not eligible.

I have a full-time job which continue to pay me but I lost my part-time gig, contract or self-employed work. Do I qualify?

You may not qualify. Since you are receiving your full -time salary, you are technically employed and thus may make too much to qualify for these programs.

Flow Chart of CARES Act Benefits

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Child Care

What efforts are underway to help parents with child care needs?

TWC is part of a task force set up by the governor’s office to address child care needs in light of the current crisis.

A new Texas Child Care Availability Portal allows parents to search for available child care near their home or work, and it displays a map of licensed child care centers, licensed homes, and registered homes. It shows each facility’s operating hours, along with the number of open seats for each age group at the facility. After searching, families will need to contact the child care facility directly to enroll their child.

Parents can find additional information to consider during COVID in the new Texas Child Care Website.

See: COVID-19 Resources Child Care

How do we know child care is safe during this pandemic?

Regulated child care providers (licensed centers, licensed homes, and registered homes) must continue to follow Child Care Licensing Minimum Standards.

Additionally, regulated child care providers must follow new safety guidelines from Child Care Licensing, which can be found at this webpage, as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

TWC also issued best practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19: see Health and Safety of Child Care Facilities during COVID-19.

Texas is working hard to ensure the health and safety of all of its citizens. It is important that we all work to practice social distancing and limiting our contacts with others during this time. If you are able to have a family member, relative, or trusted neighbor care for you children in lieu of a childcare provider, we encourage you to do so. While our childcare facilities will follow the safety guidelines provided by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the simplest way to avoid COVID-19 is to limit your children’s exposure to others.

Depending on your income and work status, financial assistance for child care may be available to you. Contact your local Workforce Solutions Office to determine if you qualify and if funds are currently available

Many city and county governments are issuing new health and safety guidance each day. Please check with your local authorities to understand what new policies they have enacted that might relate to child care operations.

You should always ask your facility what health and safety precautions they follow and whether they are meeting Child Care Licensing Minimum Standards.

See: COVID-19 Resources Child Care

Questions from Child Care Providers

How can I serve essential workers through the child care subsidy program?

Complete this form to indicate the number of seats you have available and update the Frontline Child Care Availability Portal each week. Without a weekly update from your program, the website will automatically assume you have no availability in your program.

Contact your local Workforce Development Board to let them know you can provide care for essential workers and to set up an agreement to accept child care subsidies.

What reimbursement amount would I receive for serving essential workers through the subsidy program?

Each Workforce Development Board sets rates based on the operation types (licensed center, etc.), the child’s age, and the operations’ Texas Rising Star (TRS) status.

Below are some examples of rates that are currently in effect. If you do not see your operation type’s specific rate, contact your local Board.

How can I update the number of child care seats I have available in the Frontline Child Care Availability Portal?

After you complete the initial form, you will be sent weekly reminders via email and/or text message with instructions to update your information using a simple online form.

How often should I update the number of child care spots I have available in the Frontline Child Care Availability Portal?

You must update the Portal at least once a week. You will be able to update it as frequently as you like, and we hope you will update it as often as possible so that families have accurate information.  Each Saturday at 8 a.m., the system will be wiped clean and show no availability for all providers. Providers will have the entire weekend to provide the most updated information for the Portal. This is to ensure there is no “stale” information in the system.

How can I change my hours of operation, ages served, or other information that is auto-populated in the Frontline Child Care Availability Portal?

Child Care Licensing has supplied the Frontline Child Care Availability Portal with this information. At any time, you may make the following changes in your online Child Care Licensing Account or by contacting your licensing inspector as soon as possible:

  • Adding services like nighttime care
  • Changing your hours or the days you are operating
  • Changing the ages served
  • Moving to a temporary location

Please allow 24 hours for the update to show on the Frontline Child Care Availability Portal. If you do not know who your current licensing inspector is, you can send an email to MSC@hhsc.state.tx.us

Where can I find additional guidance for health and safety during this pandemic?

  • Licensed child care providers must follow new safety guidelines from Child Care Licensing, which can be found at this webpage.
  • TWC has issued best practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which can be found at this webpagePDF
  • The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) houses a variety of COVID-19 resources on this webpage.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued guidance for child care programs, which can be found here.

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Media-specific questions

How Many Unemployment Claims has Texas Seen since the COVID-19 crisis began?

You can find claim numbers here:

Sign up for TWC updates on labor market reports at: Texas Workforce Commission updates

Note: Data related to unemployment numbers including the number of unemployment insurance claims will be provided after official release to the Department of Labor. This is to ensure the security of the data and to prevent anyone from benefiting from early access to the data, which can influence stock and bond markets.

How is TWC addressing website and phone backlogs?

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented changes to the lives of individuals all across Texas and across the globe.

In 2019, the Texas Workforce Commission helped more than 700,000 Texans file unemployment claims. Since March 14, the Texas Workforce Commission has helped more Texans file for unemployment benefits than all of 2019. As of the end of September 2020, TWC’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Division has processed 5.1 million unemployment claims, handled 4.4 million Tele-Center customer calls, and paid out $31 billion in unemployment benefits. To put this in perspective, we handled 2.4 million claims in all of 2017, 2018, and 2019 combined.

First and foremost, to those who have been laid off, are unsure about your employment situation or are worried for your business: we see you, we hear you and we are working around the clock to provide the resources and help you need.

We expanded our technological and staff capabilities to meet the growing needs. We extended our hours of operation and are open Saturdays and Sundays. We have hired and are still hiring new staff. Our number-one priority is helping unemployed people find their next job and helping employers hire the best staff possible. We hope to ensure that every unemployed individual who is eligible for unemployment benefits in Texas gets their benefits during this COVID-19 crisis.

What specific upgrades and improvements has TWC made?

We have more than 1,500 staff and 1,800 contract call-enter staff helping support unemployment insurance services. We have upgraded and expanded telephone infrastructure and website capacity. We are actively hiring emergency hires, temp workers, and utilizing volunteers from other TWC departments and external partners. We have upgraded our unemployment benefits system and our online Unemployment Benefits Services for claimants and Employer Benefits Services for employers.

And we added Larry the Chat Bot, an artificial intelligence-enabled chatbot, to every TWC webpage to provide answers to unemployment claim questions 24/7. Larry was designed to help customers get answers to the most common unemployment benefits questions during the pandemic. To date, Larry the Chat Bot has assisted more than 2 million Texans and answered more than 10 million questions.

Have an unemployment insurance question? Ask Larry

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