|Monday, April 13, 2020
|Recording and Resource Guide Available
Unemployment Webinar with Texas Workforce Commission
|Thank you for your interest in the unemployment resource webinar I hosted this morning in conjunction with the Texas Workforce Commission.
Texas Workforce Commission Executive Director, Ed Serna, State Representative Matt Shaheen, and I provided an overview of programs available to Texans impacted by coronavirus and took questions from participants following the presentation. Ed also explained efforts being made by the state to process as many incoming applications and calls as possible.
For your convenience, I have included Frequently Asked Questions about unemployment benefits below and have made the webinar recording available online here.
I encourage you to review my detailed Unemployment Resource Guide about the programs and resources available to those who have been laid off, furloughed, ordered to self-quarantine, or are experiencing reduced working hours due to COVID-19.
More information for individuals impacted by coronavirus can be found here and you can sign up for email alerts as resources become available here.
Please remember, my team and I stand ready to serve as a resource. If there are additional ways in which I can assist you, please reach out to my office at (972) 202-4150.
Member of Congress
|Frequently Asked Questions from Collin County Workers
What were the changes made to unemployment coverage?
Congress has provided $1 billion in emergency administrative grants to increase state capacity to process unemployment applications, make payments, and provide a federally funded extra week of benefits. Additionally, H.R. 748, the CARES Act created a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program that will cover individuals who wouldn't normally be eligible for traditional Unemployment Insurance benefits and added an additional $600 per week for beneficiaries top of the amount provided by state programs, and extends the length of time benefits can be paid out.
All unemployment benefits are administered by each individual state and eligibility, duration, and amount are all determined under each state's laws. The United States Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration guidance on flexibility provided under federal law for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19.
At the request of Governor Abbott, TWC has waived the Work Search Requirement and eliminated the waiting week for unemployment benefits.
Who is eligible for unemployment benefits?
Congress has extended unemployment insurance to workers who usually aren't eligible for such benefits at the state level - as long as their unemployment is connected to the coronavirus outbreak. Those who will now be eligible include part-time employees, freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers, and the self-employed.
How much are the unemployment benefits worth?
Under the CARES Act, the federal government will provide $600 a week to individuals who are eligible for unemployment insurance. The federal assistance will complement existing state unemployment benefits, which typically cover a percentage of an unemployed individual's previous salary. In Texas, weekly unemployment benefits previously ranged between $69 to $521 per week.
How long do these unemployment benefits last?
The federal government's $600 benefit to unemployed workers will last for a period of up to four months through July 31, 2020. Additionally, legislation passed by Congress will extend state-level unemployment insurance by an additional 13 weeks. In Texas, unemployment beneficiaries were previously limited to 26 weeks of benefits, this will now bring the total to 39 weeks. Lastly, under this bill, retroactive benefits can be applied for back to January 27, 2020.
What if the job I lost because of the coronavirus is a recently started one?
For those who lost their job as a result of coronavirus and wouldn't usually qualify for unemployment benefits because of insufficient work history, the CARES Act effectively waives such work history requirements and allows those workers to receive unemployment benefits.
Where do I apply for unemployment benefits?
Texans can submit an application for unemployment benefits through the Texas Workforce Commission Website or call (800) 939-6631 and speak to a customer service representative.
For more information, you can watch a tutorial on how to apply for benefits here.
For up-to-date news and announcements from TWC please visit their website here.
Do unemployment benefits for those impacted by coronavirus apply to self-employed individuals and independent contractors?
Yes. Legislation recently signed into law, the CARES Act, created a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program to cover individuals who wouldn't normally be eligible for traditional unemployment insurance benefits. This program particularly helps self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and those who are simply unable to work due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Texas Workforce Commission website keeps crashing, what do I do?
The TWC Unemployment Benefit Application System is experiencing a high volume of users. They ask that if you are experiencing issues with the site, to please try back later.
To help prevent website outages and ensure every applicant is able to file their unemployment benefits claims, TWC is asking Texans to apply during designated times and days, based on the number their area code begins with.
What other resources are available?
- Area code begins with 9, file on: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
- Area code begins with 3, 4, 5, 6, file on: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
- Area code begins with 7 or 8, file on: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
- Area code begins with 2, file on: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
In addition to expanded unemployment benefits, Congress has created a Recovery Rebate Check Program, pushed back the 2020 tax filing deadline, and ensured working Americans have access to paid sick and family medical leave should they be impacted by coronavirus. Please review my Resource Guide for Workers for more information.