Texas Unemployment: Eligibility and Benefits

FT Contributor
An unemployed businessman showing his empty pockets.
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The Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program is a federal program that’s administered at the state level. Unemployment benefits are provided to eligible workers who are currently jobless but actively looking for work. As long as these claimants remain eligible and continue filing claims, they receive financial assistance while they look for new employment.

In Texas, the unemployment insurance program is administered by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and referred to as the TWC Unemployment Benefits program. If you’re eligible, the amount of benefits you receive depends on the salary you earned while you were working. Learning more about TWC Unemployment Benefits program eligibility requirements and the application process will help you understand if you qualify to receive this financial assistance.

Texas Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

If you’re unemployed and struggling financially, you may qualify to receive TWC unemployment program benefits if you’re able and willing to continue looking for work. To be eligible for these benefits, you must have earned a certain amount of income in your past job. Your base period is used in this calculation, which is the first four quarters of the last five quarters that were completed immediately before you filed your unemployment claim.

To file a valid unemployment claim, you must have wages in more than one of your last four base periods. The total wages earned in your base period must be more than 37 times the weekly benefit amount you’re eligible for through the program. If you received benefits from a previous unemployment claim, your new salary must be at least six times the weekly benefit amount associated with your new claim.

To receive benefits, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own. The reason for your unemployment may be one of the following:

  • You were laid off.
  • Your working hours were greatly reduced.
  • You were fired for eligible reasons that don’t elude to misconduct.
  • You quit for a good and eligible reason, such as a medical issue or unfair treatment.
  • You had to quit to relocate with your spouse.

To continue receiving unemployment benefits, you must maintain your eligibility. The TWC sets strict work search requirements and you must prove you’re meeting these requirements each week. You’re required to be registered to work in Texas, search for work and document the steps you’ve taken to search, actively apply for work, and accept a suitable job offer if one is provided.

Texas Unemployment Benefits

If you apply for the TWC unemployment program and are eligible to receive benefits, you’re provided with a weekly benefit amount. This financial compensation may be used in any way you see fit to pay for your living expenses as you look for full-time employment again.

You may choose to receive your unemployment benefits through a debit card or by direct deposit. If you choose a debit card, the card is mailed to you and you must activate it by creating a PIN. You may then use the debit card at any retailer that accepts it as a form of payments, including the grocery store or pharmacy.

If you choose to receive your benefits by direct deposit, you must provide your bank account information. Every week that you’re eligible for benefits and file a claim, TWC deposits your weekly benefit amount directly into your account.

How Much Does Unemployment Pay?

TWC uses your base periods and the salary you earned within these base periods to determine the benefit amount provided to you. If you took on a part-time job or helped out a friend who paid you money for the week, you must claim the income you earned with the TWC. This reduces your weekly benefit amount but prevents you from needing to pay back some of the benefits provided.

You must show you’re trying to return to employment each week by recording your work search activities. If you fail to provide documentation that you’re searching for a job, your weekly benefits may be denied.

How To Apply for Unemployment in Texas

You may apply for unemployment with TWC online or by phone. When you visit the website, create an account and provide your information, including the wages you earned in your previous job. In the past 18 months, if you worked in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, or Puerto Rico, you’re not eligible to apply for benefits online. You must call the TWC TeleCenter to begin your claim.

Confirm that the details you provided are accurate and submit your claim to the TWC through your account. You’ll receive a confirmation number upon completion. Keep in mind, you cannot begin a claim and save your information. The entire process must be completed in one setting and the system logs you off automatically if you’re inactive for longer than 30 minutes.

You should be financially prepared for unemployment because it may take TWC up to four weeks to review your claim and begin providing your weekly benefit amount if you’re eligible. While waiting for your first unemployment benefit payment, you may need to use your financial emergency fund to pay for your recurring expenses, such as rent or utility bills.

Materials Needed to File an Unemployment Claim

Before you begin the unemployment claim process online or by phone, it’s important to review the materials and information you’ll need to successfully file. Before calling or logging on, gather the following:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your last employer’s contact information, including address, name, and phone number.
  • The dates you worked for your last employer, including the month, day, and year you started and ended your employment.
  • How many hours and days you worked there each week.
  • Your DD Form 214 and military start and end dates, if you served in the military.
  • Your Alien Registration Number if you’re not a U.S. citizen or national.

The information you provide to the TWC must be truthful and accurate. If you provide false information pertaining to employment or your citizenship status, you may face perjury charges.

When requesting a benefit payment, you’ll be asked to provide information on any earnings you had for the week. You must also provide information on the work search activities you conducted.

For More Information on Filing for Unemployment in Texas

If you have questions about your claim or how to file, contact the TWC Unemployment TeleCenter at (800) 939-6631. If you’re applying for benefits online, use the Unemployment Benefits Online Tutorial to walk through the process.

After losing your job, it can be hard to get back on your feet. Once you’ve applied for unemployment benefits, keep up with work search activities and be available and open for different job opportunities. While you may qualify for TWC unemployment program benefits, it’s important to continue looking for suitable employment so you can gain financial independence again.

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