If you live in Texas and are unemployed, you can collect unemployment benefits offered by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). But collecting benefits in the state is no cakewalk. You should meet several eligibility requirements and go through an application process. If you are wondering what criteria you should meet and how to apply for unemployment benefits in Texas, you have landed on the right page.
Here, we will guide through bits and pieces of Texas unemployment. To begin with, let us see what Texas unemployment benefits are.
Texas Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit is the federal and state-sponsored program. The program aims to provide partial and temporary income replacement for up to 26 weeks to Texasians who have lost employment through no fault.
Now that you have an idea about Texas UI benefits, let’s learn how to apply for unemployment benefits.
You can apply for benefits immediately after your last working day. Steps involved in the application process are as follows.
Step1: The first and foremost step in to register for UI benefits. This can be done by visiting the Texas Workforce Commission website and clicking on “Sign Up For User ID” option. Then enter information asked for in the form and click submit.
Step2: On registering, you will receive your user ID and password. Using this information, log into your account and answer all the questions that help authorities determine if you are required to file a claim online or by calling TWC Tele-Center.
Step3: rovide details such as your contact information, citizenship information, last employer’s name, phone number, and address, information on numbers of hours you have worked and wages, and reason for job separation.
Step4: Create a 4-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) that has the same legal authority as that of your signature. Using PIN information you can easily access TWC Tele-Serv and some internet services offered by TWC.
Step5: Choose a payment option, either a debit card or a direct deposit. For new users, the default payment option is a debit card. But you can change it by clicking “NO” on the Payment Option Page and visiting “Change Payment Option Screen.”
Step6: Last, review your application. If you have not entered any details or have entered incorrect information, select the “Edit Information” link at the bottom of each section and make changes. Once done, submit the application.
If you have worked only in Texas, follow the above procedure. However, if you have worked in more than one state, you can file a claim in any state where you have your base period wages. The paying state will process your application as per its UI laws and ask other states to provide information about your wage records. It will then combine all your wages and determine if you earned sufficient wages to be eligible for UI benefits under that state’s rules.
Know that you will not receive your payment immediately after applying for it. You have to meet several eligibility requirements to qualify for benefits.
The first and foremost criteria are, you should be unemployed through no fault of your own. Some of the accepted job separation reasons include:
You would be eligible for UI benefits in Texas if you were laid off due to lack of work, but not your work performance.
Reduced working hours
If your working hours are reduced, you can get benefits, provided it was not the result of disciplinary action.
You can qualify for benefits if you quit your job for a good cause. The good cause can be related to work or personal reasons.
You may qualify for Texas UI benefits if your employer asks you to resign or fire you for reasons other than misconduct.
Apart from the job separation requirement, you will be required to meet other eligibility criteria such as monetary and work search requirements.
According to the state defined monetary requirements, you will be required to meet minimum earnings in your base period. That includes:
If you aren’t aware of the base period, then the below chart will help you understand it better. Know that the base period in Texas is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the initial claim. If you don’t have sufficient wages in the base period, you cannot receive benefits.
The above is the standard base period. The state includes another type of base period known as the alternate base period. This type of base period will be considered if you are out of work for a longer duration due to injury, pregnancy, or other medical illnesses.
One more criterion that you must meet is the work search requirement. According to these eligibility criteria, you will be required to:
You have to register for a work search on WorkInTexas.com within three business days of filing a claim. During the process, you will have to give your Social Security Number so that the authorities at TWC could verify your registration.
If you are unaware of the aspects involved in the registration process, contact authorities at the Workforce Solution Office. The authorities will be available through phone, in-person, and online to help you through the registration process.
When you apply for benefits, the Texas Workforce Commission will send a letter that includes details about the minimum number of work searches that you should complete each week.
Begin your work search by listing your skills and using technology to look for a job. Note that there is a list of acceptable work search activities in Texas, which one must follow while applying for unemployment benefits.
Although you will be required to submit a minimum number of work search activities every week, it is wiser to document all your work search activities weekly. If the Texas Workforce Commission requests your work search activities for any week in your benefit year and you fail to provide them, TWC may deny your benefits.
You have two options for documenting your work search activities: preparing your log or using TWC’s work search log. If you choose to create your log, make sure that it has fields that are the same as TWC’s work search log.
Make sure that the entered information is true and accurate. Because if TWC checks your log and determines that you have given false information, you could lose your eligibility and face criminal charges.
With that said, TWC doesn’t always request a search log. However, in some cases, it would request you to send a copy of the log. If it requests a copy, upload the log to the UI Submission Portal for authorities to verify it.
If you meet all the state-defined eligibility requirements, you may qualify for UI benefits in Texas. The TWC will mail a statement after four weeks of your application that includes details about your potential benefits (Weekly Benefit Amount or WBA and Maximum Benefit Amount or MBA).
Weekly Benefit Amount is the payment that you will receive on eligible weeks. To calculate your WBA, TWC will consider your base period quarter that includes the highest wages. It then divides the wages by 25 and rounds the amount to the nearest dollar.
Maximum Benefit Amount is the total amount you will receive during your entire benefit year. This amount would be 26 times your WBA or 27% of all your base period wages, whichever is less.
If you meet all eligibility requirements and have completed the application process, you may start receiving benefits in a few weeks.
You read that right! Texas unemployment benefits are taxable and must be reported to the Internal Revenue Services (IRS).
You can report your benefit amount to your federal tax return along with other income such as wages, bank interest, etc. When reporting the unemployment benefits, make sure to follow the below-mentioned points:
Withholding taxes is voluntary in the state. You can request TWC to withhold federal income taxes from your gross unemployment benefit payments. If requested, the Texas Workforce Commission will withhold 10 percent of your gross UI benefits.
You can withhold your federal income tax for unemployment benefits by choosing the withholding option when applying for UI benefits online at Unemployment Benefits Services.
In January, TWC will send IRS Form 1099-G that lists the total amount of benefits you received. It also includes:
When filing a federal income tax return, you need not attach a copy of the form to your federal income tax return. That is because authorities at TWC report the 1099-G information to the IRS.
Now that you know how to file for unemployment benefits in Texas, gather all the necessary information and file a claim.
However, make sure you don’t commit any mistakes as they may lead to denial of your claim. Some of the common mistakes you should avoid are:
Below are the steps involved in filing a UI appeal if in case your claim is denied.
If your claim is denied, TWC will send you a Determination Notice form that includes the reasons for the denial. If you are not happy with TWC’s decision, you can appeal UI benefits but within 14 days from the date receiving the Determination Notice. If the 14 day falls on a state or federal holiday, you can file your appeal on the next business day.
First, you will appeal to the Appeal Tribunal by writing at TWC (You can find the appeal form on the TWC website). You can file an appeal online or in-person at your local Workforce Solutions Office. You can also apply by faxing or mailing the letter to the Appeals Department. You can find the fax number or mailing address in your Determination Notice.
The authorities will review your application and send a hearing information packet that includes dates and time of your hearing, instruction to follow while arriving at the hearing, instructions on additional document submission, etc. Make sure that you don’t miss the hearing. If there exists an emergency, keep the authorities informed about it.
If you are unsatisfied with the Appeal Tribunal’s decision, you can appeal to the Commission within 14 days from the date of receiving the Appeal Tribunal’s decision.
You can appeal to the Commission in person at your local Workforce Solutions office or submit your written appeal online. You can also send the letter through fax or mail to Commission Appeals. The mailing address and faxing number will be attached to your Appeal Tribunal decision.
The Commission will schedule a hearing where you can place your evidence and arguments. If you are not happy with the Commission’s decision, you can request a rehearing with the Commission, but within 14 days from the date, TWC mailed you the decision of the Commission.
TWC will go through the application again and schedule a rehearing. If you are not satisfied with the hearing, you can appeal to a civil court. However, you will be required to appeal to the court between 15 and 28 days from the date receiving the Commission’s decision. To appeal to the civil court, follow the instructions given with the Commission’s decision.
Continue to apply for benefits while appealing. Because if you win your UI appeal, TWC will give you benefits for those weeks.
Applying for Texas unemployment benefits can look like a lengthy and challenging process, but it is worth it if you qualify for benefits, as this will help you meet your basic needs until you return to work. If you want more information about Texas UI benefits or have any query, contact authorities at TWC.