Can’t seem to get anyone on the phone to apply for unemployment benefits?
The Texas Workforce Commission announced Wednesday that more help is on the way.
So far, 1.2 million Texans have applied for unemployment benefits, and the state has paid out $400 million dollars.
On Monday alone, $183 million in benefits was paid out to 137,000 claimants. This is compared to one week before when the workforce commission paid $41 million to 64,000 claimants.
Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson Cisco Gamez expects those numbers to continue to increase.
Gamez said the commission has implemented changes to improve its response. Call centers will now be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
The commission has also created two more call centers, which are expected to be fully operational by Monday. TWC is in the process of adding another two call centers, eventually bringing the total to eight.
If you received a notice with a deadline to apply for benefits but are having trouble applying due to high call volume, Gamez said you will not be penalized if you do not apply by the noted deadline.
Gamez said the increase in call centers and operating hours will help reduce call volume, but he encourages people to apply online at twc.texas.gov.
“That’s where 90% of claims are processed," Gamez said of the online portal.
If you are applying for regular unemployment benefits you will need your social security number and home address.
If you are self-employed or an independent contractor, you will need to provide TWC with your 2019 1040 IRS form by Dec. 26 Details for how to provide the form are outlined during the application process.
Gamez said many new applicants are requesting their benefit payments, which must be done every two weeks.
In addition to improving call centers and the number of call agents, the commission approved measures to help child care providers that have remained open during the pandemic by increasing supplemental payments by 25%.
Child care providers should go to twc.texas.gov for more info.
The commission has implemented Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a new program for the self-employed or independent contractors who are experiencing reduced hours or unemployment.
They can now apply and request payment by going to ui.texasworkforce.org.
Gamez said there are more than 500,000 jobs posted online at workintexas.com
TWC will host live updates at 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on its response to the COVID-19 crisis. To watch go to facebook.com/texasworkforcecommission.