Texas Unemployment Benefit Questions
I lost my job in Texas. What do I do now?
The first thing you need to do is find another job. While there are a number of ways to go about a job search, registering as a job seeker on the WorkInTexas website is a great start. And if you are eligible to collect unemployment benefits, that will be a requirement for ongoing eligibility. The second thing you should do is apply for Texas unemployment benefits to assist in covering your ongoing expenses, so that you don’t have to dip into savings (or dip too much). If your workplace provided a healthcare plan, you should find out about COBRA coverage. And whether it did or didn’t, you should look into Texas Medicaid.
How much will my benefit payments be?
The Texas Workforce Commission will look at the first four quarters of the last five complete quarters before the quarter in which you applied for benefits. This is called your base period. Of those four quarters, they will take your highest earning quarter and divide that number by 25 to get your weekly benefit amount, which will be at least $72 and no more than $563.
You can collect these benefits every week until you’ve accumulated 26 times your WBA or 27% of the earnings in your highest earning quarter from your base period—whichever is lesser. Check out a Texas unemployment calculator to see exactly how much you’ll get.
When will my first benefit check arrive?
If you are deemed eligible, your first benefit check should arrive during the 3rd or 4th week post filing the initial claim. The payment you receive is for the 2nd payable week and will be issued by the TWC. The first week is considered as the waiting week for which you are eligible but you won’t be awarded any benefit checks during this week. However, you will be paid for the waiting week after the 3rd or 4th week.
If you don’t have any income or deductions and you continue to file your weekly claims, your payments will be as follows:
- File claims for 1st and 2nd week – payment will be given for 2nd week alone
- File claims for 3rd and 4th weeks – payment will be given for 3 weeks
- File claims for other 2 week periods – payment will be awarded for 2 weeks
What is a waiting week?
You will not receive unemployment benefits right away. Instead, you will actually need to wait one week after your application date in a time period known as the waiting week. Your first unemployment benefits payment will include this amount of money.
One reason for this waiting week is so that the Texas Workforce Commission can look into your unemployment claim and verify that all its components are accurately representing your claim. This is why you need to make sure to represent your previous wages accurately, as well as the reason for your termination or (in certain cases) resignation. If you have questions, you can call the Texas unemployment phone number.
How do earnings affect my weekly benefit amount?
If you work and earn money while collecting unemployment benefits, you need to report that. Earning money does not mean you’re going to lose your benefits. In fact, you can earn up to 25% of your weekly benefit amount (WBA) without seeing a reduction in your benefits. Anything after that will reduce your weekly benefit payment dollar for dollar. An example: let’s say your weekly benefit amount is $300, and you do some work for $100. Since 25% of your WBA is actually $75, your benefits will be reduced by $25 for a total of $275.
Are Texas UI benefits taxable?
Yes, benefits are taxable. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants you to report your UI benefits as income. TWC (Texas Workforce Commission) mails statements in January that tell the total amount of benefits paid to you during the calendar year. You can also call Tele-Serv for the amount. TWC report this amount directly to the IRS.
You may opt to have a portion of your benefits payment withheld for your taxes. If you wish to do so, then complete and return the tax withholding form we send to you by mail.
What is an overpayment?
An overpayment is when you receive benefits that you should not have received. If you did not report income when filing your biweekly claim, misrepresented your wages by inflating them on your initial application, provided false information about your termination, did not complete your required job search activities, or committed Texas unemployment fraud, you may receive an overpayment.
This overpayment will need to be returned, and there is no exception for hardship, no statute of limitations (meaning, it can be collected at any time during your life), and you cannot collect any future unemployment until the overpayment is returned—even if the overpayment was not your fault. If fraud was involved, you will need to pay an additional 15% penalty.
What are Texas unemployment work search requirements?
The Texas work search requirements are fairly straightforward. You need to register as a job seeker on the WorkInTexas website, and you need to apply to a certain number of jobs per week. While the exact required number ranges from county to county, it’s typically around three searches per week.
During the first 8 weeks of collecting unemployment, if you find a suitable job that pays at least 90% of your previous salary, you need to take it. After that point, anything suitable paying 75% or more is going to be your next job…otherwise you will be denied benefits. You need to keep a record of your job search activities, because the Texas Workforce Commission may request a review of this record anytime during the time in which you are collecting unemployment.
What is WorkinTexas?
WorkInTexas is a job board and matchmaking service that connects potential employees with employers. Based on your skills, work experience, training, education, location, and other factors, WorkInTexas can help you connect with your next potential employer.
WorkInTexas can also connect you with additional services through a Workforce Solutions office location near you, where you can get one-on-one guidance in creating a resume, interview coaching, and other related job search assistance. There are also free online courses and training programs available on the site.
What if I can’t find new work?
Unemployment benefits are meant to be a short term solution. If you are unable to find work, contact WorkInTexas to discuss other employment options. The staff can connect you with some reemployment programs that are set up to help Texans reenter the workforce and get off unemployment.
If you were injured at work or have a work-related illness, you may be eligible to collect workers compensation or Social Security Disability. Keep in mind that you do not have to take a job that is outside of normal commuting patterns, does not match your skill sets, or compromises your moral standards.
What to do if you move way from Texas?
Tell TWC right away if you change your mailing address because:
- Texas Workforce office gives your new address to Chase Bank, which sends you the TWC UI Visa debit card and debit-card account information.
- The U.S. Postal Service does not forward some TWC documents that require a response. If you do not respond on time, you might not obtain benefits.
- We mail other important benefit and appeal documents, as well as IRS forms, to the address we have on record, so please keep it current!