Texas Unemployment Benefits

Texas unemployment insurance (UI) is a public benefits program that is jointly funded by the state and the federal government. Through this program, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) can extend UI benefits to residents who are either without work or who are presently underemployed. Furthermore, eligibility for unemployment is determined based on the circumstances that led to the employees’ terminations, as well as additional factors such as their finances.

The sections below will explain how to apply for unemployment online, how applicants can prepare for the unemployment interview and what information petitioners need to provide when completing their applications. In order to quickly claim unemployment benefits, candidates need to prepare their materials well in advance. By arranging their materials ahead of time, petitioners can increase the chances that their claims will be accepted.

What is unemployment in Texas?

The Texas unemployment program serves two purposes: to help support local workers during periods of non-employment and to motivate qualifying individuals to keep searching for new employment opportunities. Unemployment insurance is offered on a rolling basis, so candidates are able to submit their applications as soon as they are eligible. Due to the nature of this program and the unpredictability that can sometimes come with job losses, unemployment insurance benefits are not less available during certain times of the year. Therefore, UI coverage candidates should not worry about submitting claims later in the year because they think funding will be scarcer.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Texas?

In order to meet Texas eligibility for unemployment requirements, candidates must ensure they meet three criteria. When evaluating UI applications, the TWC will assess applicants’ past wages and petitioners’ job separations.

The Workforce Commission will examine candidates’ recent taxable income when evaluating who qualifies for unemployment. Specifically, the commission will make this assessment by examining how much money candidates earned during their specific base periods. For UI benefits purposes, a base period is defined as the first four of the last five calendar quarters. Quarters are divided as follows:

  • Quarter A—January, February, March
  • Quarter B—April, May, June
  • Quarter C—July, August, September
  • Quarter D—October, November, December

Eligibility

Eligibility for unemployment looks at the money candidates made during 12 continuous months, and the base period the commission will use excludes the present quarter in which candidates file, as well as the preceding one. Therefore, if a candidate applies for UI in August, their finances for this year’s Quarters B and C will not be included, and their base year would begin in the previous year’s Quarter B. Once the base period is established, unemployment insurance eligibility requires that applicants made wages that equal at least 37 times the weekly benefit amount they would receive through UI.

In reference to job separations, qualifications for UI state that petitioners must be unemployed or working fewer hours than usual. However, these situations must be the result of actions that were out of the employee’s control. For example, the following circumstances may allow for petitioners to meet eligibility for UI requirements:

  • —Employees who are laid off or who are required to work limited hours may be eligible for benefits.
  • —Employees who were fired for reasons besides misconduct, violation of company policy or position neglect may be eligible to enroll in UI.
  • —In many cases, employees who quit are not eligible to receive UI. However, exceptions to this would include candidates who quit for justifiable reasons, such as unsafe work conditions or sizable changes to the hiring agreement the claimant signed.

How can I sign up for unemployment in Texas?

Applicants may be wondering how to apply for unemployment online, as electronic submissions are usually processed more quickly than paper petitions. There is an online application for unemployment in Texas, and candidates may also submit their applications by calling the state’s Tele-Center and speaking with a customer service agent.

Before candidates can apply for unemployment benefits, they must remember they may not do so until after they have completed their last days of work. Petitioners working for temporary agencies must request new assignments and then wait three days before they can request UI benefits, and staff leasing company employees must request new work, as well. However, once candidates are eligible to apply, they must include the following information in their applications:

  • Employer’s contact information—This includes the employer’s business name, address and phone number, as well as the claimant’s supervisor.
  • Work information—This includes the first and last dates the claimant worked for his or her employer, as well as the hours and rates he or she earned at the job.
  • Prospective work information—This includes the average wage for the position the claimant is seeking.

In addition, candidates will need to provide their own identifying information, such as their Social Security Numbers and their driver’s license numbers, if applicable. Similarly, candidates who are not United States citizens must include their alien registration numbers when they file for unemployment. This is to prove candidates have a legal right to work in the country.

When they apply for UI benefits, candidates must also decide if they would prefer to receive their payments through direct deposit or debit card. The first option allows enrollees to receive direct reimbursement through their personal checking or saving account. The second option provides enrollees with a state-issued debit card that the unemployment office will use to distribute beneficiaries’ funds.

How do I prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Texas?

In some cases, the TWC may schedule an unemployment phone interview with claimants after their petitions are filed. While candidates should not assume this means their applications will be rejected, they still must take the time to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview. These conversations are requested for a variety of reasons, but in many cases, they are necessary because applicants provided unclear answers in their submissions or because there is a discrepancy between something the employer and employee said.

Questions asked during unemployment interview vary depending on the type of information the unemployment office needs to confirm. For example, if there is a conflict regarding the circumstances that led to the employee’s termination, the conversation will be focused on this topic. On the other hand, if the candidate did not provide sufficient information regarding his or her wages, the interviewer will ask questions about this aspect of the candidate’s application.

A UI interview is usually extended to both the employee and the employer, and each party must focus on being as accurate and descriptive as possible. Lying to the TWC would not only discredit the speaker’s testimony, but it could also cause the UI representative to credit in the other party’s favor.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in Texas?

Candidates may claim employment benefits in TX once the state unemployment office accepts their applications. Petitioners will receive a mailed Determination Notice form, which states the TWC’s decision regarding their cases. Depending on the option they selected during the application process, enrollees will either begin receiving payments deposited into their personal savings or checking accounts, or they will receive their state-issued debit cards. In either situation, funds will be electronically deposited once candidates’ applications are approved.

In order to maintain an unemployment benefits claim, enrollees must make sure they continue to meet specific program requirements. This is to certify that they are eligible to continue receiving UI payments. For example, beneficiaries must:

  • Meet work search requirements. Within three days of applying for UI benefits, applicants must register for the state’s work search program. Once this is completed, the TWC will notify enrollees regarding how many work search activities they must complete each week. This means each beneficiary is required to and report on every professional contact they make and how many job applications they submit. Failure to reach their required number will make enrollees ineligible to continue receiving benefits.
  • Request their payment on time. Every two weeks, enrollees must submit a payment request for the two weeks that recently passed. These requests may be submitted electronically or via phone calls. However, requesting outside of the employee’s designated week will result in reimbursement being delayed or denied.
  • Be willing and able to work full-time. Enrollees must be able to mentally and physically complete the tasks their potential jobs require. In addition, beneficiaries must be able to work full-time. This means they will need reliable transportation and proper child care options, if necessary.
  • Take part in mandatory reemployment opportunities. Not all beneficiaries are required to take advantage of state reemployment services. However, those who must do so are responsible for attending all events and workshops. These criteria are arranged through the state’s Workforce Solutions offices.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment benefits in Texas?

When applicants are denied unemployment benefits in Texas, they can request an appeal with the Appeal Tribunal. To submit this request, candidates who are denied UI must submit a written appeal to the TWC. Petitioners may file this document online, or they can mail or fax it to the location listed on the top of the Determination Notice form they received. However, applicants must remember they may not submit appeals via email or the telephone. In order to file an unemployment denial appeal, candidates must include in their letters:

  • Their names, Social Security Numbers and current addresses.
  • A copy of their Determination Notices, as well as the dates these documents were mailed.
  • Their availability, outlining future dates and times when they would not be able to attend appeals hearings.

Claimants will receive informational packets that outline the appeals hearing process. These documents will arrive between six to eight weeks after applicants filed their claims, and they will be mailed at least 10 days before the hearings are scheduled. This UI denial appeal packet will include:

  • Hearing information—Claimants will receive a Notice of Telephone hearing, which mentions the date and time the hearing will take place, the hearing officer’s name and the telephone number they must call to join the conversation.
  • General instructions—Claimants will receive instructions on how they can participate in the hearing, as well as instructions outlining how to submit supporting documents.
  • Claim issues—Claimants will receive any issues that were found regarding their claims and the information the TWC found in response to the applicants’ claims.

Not only can claimants appeal if they are denied unemployment, but employers can appeal unfavorable decisions, as well. Regardless who appeals the first time, either party can appeal the Appeal Tribunal’s decisions by appealing to the commission. If individuals continue to disagree with these decisions, they can eventually request a Motion for Rehearing. Both of these subsequent appeals function similar to the first one.

How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in Texas?  

A federal unemployment extension may be offered nationally when many residents are unemployed. The subsidiary of this in Texas is the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which Congress funds during statewide periods of high job shortages. The last time this UI benefits extension was offered in the state was 2013, so applicants who are nearing the end of their 26 week UI benefit limit should not rely on receiving federal extensions in order to prolong their UI payments. However, in cases when the unemployment extension is active, candidates can request extensions through the TWC.

How do I contact the Texas unemployment office?

Candidates with specific questions regarding a UI claim may want to contact the TWC. The department’s mailing address is:

101 E 15th Street

Austin, TX 78778

Texas Unemployment Office Locations

UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY INFORMATION

Texas Workforce Commission 101 East 15th St. Austin, TX 78778 (512) 463-2222 View Website Unemployement Claim File
There are 145 Texas Unemployment Office Locations