Texas Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

Researcher & Writer
April 13, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE: Because the coronavirus pandemic has left so many Americans jobless, the federal government has given states more flexibility in granting unemployment benefits. If you have questions about whether you’re eligible for unemployment benefits read our COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits and Insurance FAQ and check out Texas claimant handbook.

A guide to unemployment benefits in Texas

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is the state agency that administers Texas unemployment benefits for citizens who are out of work or partially out of work through no fault of their own.

The payment of Texas unemployment benefits is funded by employers who contribute taxes that pay for these benefits. The US Department of Labor allocates funds from the Federal Unemployment Tax Act that pays for operational and administrative costs. The Texas Unemployment Tax Act, Social Security regulations, and other state and federal laws govern Texas’s unemployment benefits program.

To be eligible for Texas unemployment benefits, unemployed workers must meet certain standards and qualifications.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits in Texas?

You can apply online for Texas unemployment benefits through Unemployment Benefit Services. The Texas Workforce Commission has a PDF tutorial that walks you through each step. It also contains the link you need to access to apply online as well as step-by-step instructions to complete your application.

As part of your application process, you will need to complete a work search registration. To do so, go to WorkinTexas.com and complete that application process. You can also register for work in person at a Workforce Solutions office.

If you want to apply over the phone, you can call an unemployment benefits telecenter, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The phone number is 800-939-6631.

Newly unemployed?

Several online services—like FlexJobs, 360training, or MyPerfectResume—can help you find work-from-home jobs, build a better resume, or earn training certifications.

What you’ll need to apply

To apply for Texas unemployment benefits, you will need the following information:

  • Your last employer’s name and address
  • The first and last dates you worked for your employer
  • The number of hours and pay rate for the work you performed in the current week (this will be used to determine your Texas unemployment rate)
  • Information related to your normal wage
  • Your Social Security number
  • If you are not a US citizen or US national, you will need an Alien Registration Number.
  • Any military employment information, if applicable.

Make sure your information is accurate. Supplying wrong or misleading information can create a delay in receiving benefits, and in some cases, you may be subject to prosecution if you knowingly falsify information. Penalties can include fines, jail time, and the implementation of penalty weeks that will make you ineligible for benefits during that time.

Important contacts for Texas unemployment claims

For more information on unemployment benefits in Texas, use the following contact information.

Online:

By phone:

  • To request payment for weeks of unemployment, get payment information, or check on the status of your claim, call the Texas unemployment automated telephone system (Tele-Serv) at 800-558-8321. Hours are 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • To speak to a customer service representative, call 800-939-6631.
  • You can also contact the Texas Workforce Commission at its main office: 512-463-2222.
  • For complaint resolution, contact the TWC ombudsman at 800-628-5115.

How unemployment benefits works in Texas

Apply for Texas unemployment as soon as you lose your job, so long as you’ve become unemployed through no fault of your own. This can be done in person, over the phone, or online through the Texas unemployment website.

You are eligible to receive up to $521 per week for up to 26 weeks if you meet Texas unemployment qualifications. The specific Texas unemployment amount you recieve will be based on your previous earnings.

To maintain Texas unemployment eligibility, you must register with the state’s work-search program. This program will help you find new jobs in your field.

Each week, you will be required to submit a Texas unemployment weekly claim to show that you are searching for a new job. This filing can be done online or over the phone, and is required to receive compensation.

In situations where you file Texas unemployment applications but are denied, or you somehow lose your benefits, you have the legal right to appeal this decision. A hearing will take place over the phone, though you can visit any number of Texas unemployment office locations to learn more about your situation.

What are the requirements to qualify for unemployment benefits?

To meet Texas unemployment benefits eligibility, you must meet three requirements:

  1. You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, and within the guidelines as defined by Texas law. Those guidelines include situations such as losing your job in a reduction-in-force action, or you are let go due to a downturn in the economy or at a particular employer.
  2. Your past earnings must meet minimum amounts within your given base period. Texas is much like most other states that require that you earn a specified minimum amount during your base period for unemployment to make sure you are eligible for unemployment benefits. You must be able to show that you earned wages in at least two of the four calendar quarters that make up your base period. In addition, your earnings for the entire unemployment base period must be at least 37 times your weekly benefit amount.
  3. You must be ready, willing and available to work. If you are offered a suitable position based on your past work history, qualifications, and skills, you must accept the position or run the risk of losing your benefits. As part of your availability to work, you must register with a state Workforce Center, either in person or online. After you register, you must make a minimum number of job search contacts each week and record those efforts through a Texas unemployment weekly claim. You will need these records when you are asked to verify your efforts, which could happen at any time. These Texas unemployment weekly claims ensure you will continue receiving your benefits.

FAQs

Why was my Texas unemployment claim denied?

You may not be able to collect unemployment insurance benefits in Texas if any of the following apply:

  • You were fired for job-related misconduct that includes violating company policies, violating the law, or failing to do your job when you were able to do so.
  • You quit your job. To remain eligible, you need to have a good reason for doing so. This may be due to employer misconduct, engaging in illegal activities, or being asked to do something that is morally or ethically wrong. You may also use domestic violence or stalking as a reason that you left your job, and still be able to collect benefits.
  • You do not have adequate documentation that explicitly spells out your reason for not continuing with your employer. To help justify your claim, you may need to produce a doctor’s note, a restraining order, or other similar documentation that supports your claim for not continuing to work.
  • You quit because of a spouse’s job transfer, unless your spouse is in the military, in which case you may be eligible for benefits immediately.

Were you denied for Texas unemployment? Contact a Texas unemployment office for more information about how to appeal or to find out how to reinstate your benefits.

How much unemployment benefit do I qualify for?

Texas unemployment benefits are determined by the amount of wages you earn during your base period. Base periods are the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately before the beginning of your benefit year. If you successfully meet Texas unemployment requirements, your benefit payments will be based on these base periods.

In some instances, you will not have enough wages to qualify for unemployment benefits. This may be because you were sick, pregnant, were a full-time caregiver for an ill relative, or you were injured, among other reasons. When this happens, you may be able to use an alternate base period that uses your earnings history before you were unable to work.

Combining unemployment benefits with social security benefits is also a common issue that depends on your age, work history, and disability status.

How much will my weekly check be?

Your weekly benefit amount is the total you earned in your highest quarter divided by 25. The weekly maximum amount is currently capped at $521.

If you are still unemployed at the end of a 26-week benefit period and your regular state benefits run out, you may be able to apply for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). This program and other similar programs were enacted during the nationwide recession that took place in 2008. They provide up to 47 additional weeks of benefits through a Texas unemployment extension, depending on when a person first became unemployed.

The Texas Workforce Commission has created an unemployment benefits calculator that will tell you whether or not you are entitled to receive benefits, and how much those benefits may be.

If you go back to work, you MUST report your change in status to the Texas Workforce Commission. Failure to do so could result in disqualification for future benefits, or a request that the funds you collected be refunded to the state.

When and how will my unemployment be paid?

After you are enrolled to receive benefits, you will need to request payment to receive your benefits. Initially, this will happen one to two weeks after you apply, and then in two-week intervals after that time. If you do not request payment within the calendar week that your request is due, your benefit payments may be denied.

When you request payment, you will be asked several questions about your job search, earnings, and whether or not you met all requirements for eligibility during your claim period. If you earned any wages, you must report them as well. As a final step, you will be asked to certify that your answers are true and correct.

Your first payment will make its way to you approximately four weeks after you initially apply. Your first payment will also only be for one week’s worth of benefits, because your first week of enrollment is a “waiting week”.

Benefits are paid for calendar weeks that begin on Sunday and end on Saturday. You may choose to receive benefits through direct deposit, which is a free service that allows the WTC to deposit unemployment benefits directly into your personal checking or savings account. This service is good at any U.S. bank or credit union.

You can sign up for direct deposit online at Unemployment Benefits Services. Select Payment Option from the Quick Links menu. You can also sign up using the WTC automated phone system at 800-558-8321 and select Option 5.

If you do not choose direct deposit, you will be issued a debit card, and your funds will be loaded onto the debit card at regular payment intervals.

How do I appeal if my Texas unemployment claim is denied?

If your Texas unemployment application is denied, you have the right to appeal that decision. To do so, you can request a hearing, in writing, within 14 days after you receive a Determination Notice. Texas unemployment laws guarantee you this right.

After you submit an appeal request, the TWC will schedule a hearing and send you additional information to help you prepare for it. Most hearings are conducted by phone, and after the hearing is completed, a hearing officer will rule on your case and mail you a decision. If you are still denied, you can file an appeal to three commissioners of the TWC. Your evidence will be reviewed and send you a written decision. If you are still denied benefits, you can request a rehearing or file a court appeal.

Written by
Eligibility Team
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