Information for Workers
According to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), if your employment has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), apply for benefits either online at any time using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631.
On 3/17, The Governor and TWC waived the waiting week, for Unemployment Benefits. As of June 30, the TWC moved to pause the reinstatement of work search requirements for Texans receiving unemployment benefits, as outlined here. These measures support the State’s efforts to address the impact the COVID-19 virus is having on the state’s economy and its workforce. Learn more.
The TWC published A Texans Guide to Job Hunting During COVID-19, which you can view here.
Issues with Unemployment
What’s the Issue?
TWC is receiving Unemployment Insurance Applications at an increasing rate. Since March 14th, TWC has taken over 500,000 claims for Unemployment Insurance. At this rate, TWC is on pace to take as many UI claims within 6 weeks as we did in all of 2019. On Friday (March 27), TWC handled more UI claims than the agency received in the entire month of February.
Call volumes at TWC’s Tele-centers and web traffic to TWC’s online Unemployment Insurance application system remain at historically high levels. For instance, on Thursday (March 26), over 1.7 million calls were made to the TWC Tele-centers, the previous high-volume number was 60,000 calls in one day.
What’s Being Done to Fix the Problems?
TWC continues to update the webpages on their website for COVID-19 related information for Employers, Jobseekers, and Child Care. TWC is working to update the Jobseeker and Employer pages to include information on federal Unemployment Insurance Benefits authorized by the federal CARES Act (HR 748) which was passed by Congress and signed by the President last week. Also, the Child Care page is continuously being expanded to provide information on the Child Care related services TWC is providing in response to COVID-19.
To accommodate the increased traffic on TWC’s main website, the site has been moved to the “cloud” so that it will have greater capacity to serve customers.
Unemployment Insurance Claims
To help increase capacity of Tele-centers, TWC has signed an agreement to open two third- party call centers the first will provide an additional 100-150 call center operators and the second will provide up to 200 additional operators in separate centers. TWC is also working with AT&T to add even more lines to their call centers’ capacity.
TWC also continues to work with the Department of Information Resources to continue to expand the capacity of the Unemployment Insurance Claims systems. Teams are monitoring the system constantly and are working every day and night to continue to expand the resources of the system to handle the increasing number of users they are seeing. As of April 1, TWC has expanded the server capacity of the UI Claims system from 5 servers to 10 and increased the memory on all of these servers. Because the UI Claims system runs on a mainframe, this system could not be moved to the “cloud” as was done with the main TWC website.
Adding to the traffic on the online claim system, is that the individuals who have already filed claims are now logging into the system to check the status of their claim. TWC is encouraging those individuals who have already filed claims to check the status of those claims during off peak hours to allow more system resources for those individuals who are filing claims.
To further help with the taking of calls from individuals Unemployment Insurance Claims, last week, TWC transferred 200 tax auditors to assist with calls and to help take claims, and will be transferring an additional 250 TWC employees later this week, after they complete some training. TWC is also reaching out to other state agencies who have offered the assistance of their employees to bring them on to help with the processing of claims and is continuing with the emergency hiring of 100 new call center operators for the four TWC call centers.
Q: I’ve been calling and trying to apply online for weeks, what can I do?
A: The best thing to do is to keep trying, both online and by phone. As TWC continues to expand their resources daily, your chances to get through will improve. We’re hearing that the best times to call are between the hours of 9-11am and from 2-4pm during the week and on Saturdays from 8am-6pm. The best times to apply online are the “off-peak” hours after 10pm and before 6am.
Q: If my application is delayed, will I receive less money?
A: No. Unemployment eligibility is retroactive to the last day you were employed, therefore you will be compensation for the time since you lost employment.
Q: How long will it take for me to get my money after I apply?
A: The longest possible time it can take for TWC to process your application is 21 days.
Q: Unemployed after returning to work: do I need to reapply?
A: If it has been 3 weeks or fewer since your last payment request, you should just request a payment again. If it has been more than 3 weeks since your last payment request, you should reapply for benefits at ui.texasworkforce.org.
Q: What are open filing days?
A: Open filing days are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of each week. These are days where individuals who missed their filing day can request payment. More information about requesting payments is here.