“We are working night and day to meet the huge demand from unemployed workers and businesses who have been affected by the economic impact of COVID-19,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “The newly passed federal stimulus package provides disaster relief benefits, increased weekly unemployment compensation and extended benefits.”
Workers who have been laid off, terminated or furloughed because of COVID-19 are eligible for compensation. Employees who have hours reduced may also be eligible for benefits. The self-employed who have lost their businesses may be eligible for disaster assistance as well.
“The safety net is there for our employees who have been furloughed, fired or laid off, and for those who have had their hours reduced,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “Texas workers harmed by the economic disaster caused by COVID-19 are eligible for benefits, and we will work diligently to extend benefits to every worker who is eligible and applies.”
The federal stimulus package funds Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which allows states to extend unemployment benefits by an additional 13 weeks with federally funded benefits. This means jobless benefits that expire at the end of 26 weeks can be extended. The PEUC program will also increase weekly benefits by $600 for workers laid off, terminated or furloughed because of COVID-19. Eligible programs include regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), Extended Benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
“We encourage employers who have had to lay off their employees to file one mass claim on behalf of all impacted workers, reducing traffic to our site and making the claims process easier,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “In addition, there will be no chargeback to any Texas employers for claims filed due to COVID-19.”
Workers not eligible for regular or extended benefits or PEUC could be eligible for PUA. Akin to disaster unemployment assistance, this program provides unemployment benefits for individuals who lost their jobs or self-employed who are no longer working as a direct result of the pandemic, and who applied but are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
Furthermore, Short-Term Compensation programs, also known as Work Share, can provide federal benefits for certain workers whose hours have been reduced because of the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.
Employees who have lost jobs or had hours reduced should apply for unemployment benefits online. Those seeking benefits can also call 1-800-939-6631. Because of the demand for benefits, systems have been slow and patience is requested.
Employers can also file mass claims on behalf of all employees laid off because of the COVID-19 economic slowdown online.
Because of COVID-19, workers who previously filed for unemployment benefits may also be eligible for an extension of benefits once regular UI expires. TWC staff is committed to responding to each case in as timely a manner as possible, ensuring every eligible applicant gets the benefits they deserve.