Texas Unemployment – Know Your Rights Today

Last Verified: January 2017

In 2016, unemployment insurance benefits rose slightly, prompting the Texas legislature to increase employer taxes slightly for the next fiscal year. Filing for unemployment can be a somewhat confusing task. You have to make sure you know all of the eligibility requirements, important phone numbers, and much more. If you’re considering filing for unemployment in Texas, it is very important that you take note of all the information below to ensure that you can successfully receive your benefits with little to no delay.

Eligibility for Unemployment in TX

The Texas Unemployment Compensation Act, Title 4, Subtitle A of the Texas Labor Code outlines the guidelines and rules for receiving Texas unemployment benefits. To be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, you must earn enough wages from an employer covered by the Act within a 12-month period (the “base period) prior to the date you filed your initial claim for benefits. If you meet the wage requirement, you must also:

  • Have lost your job through no fault of your own
  • Be able and available to work
  • Be a US citizen or allowed to work legally in the US

If you meet these requirements and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) approves your claim, you must continue to be able and available to work. You must also register for job search services and actively seek employment. You cannot refuse a reasonable job offer.

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Lost Your Job Through No Fault of Your Own

If you were laid off or the business that employed you shut down, you may be eligible to receive benefits.

Able and Available to Work

You must be physically and mentally able to work. You must be available to accept suitable employment offers. An offer of suitable employment is a job offer that leads to work you are trained to do with a salary similar to your previous work.

Citizenship

If you are working legally in the US, you are eligible to apply for benefits. You need to show proof of eligibility, like an alien registration card.

Wage Requirement and the Base Period

The state uses the wages from first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing a claim to determine whether you meet the wage earnings requirement.

base period

You must have documented proof of wages from an employer covered by the unemployment law for at least two of your base calendar quarters. Also, your total base period wages must be 37 times your weekly benefit amount. If you have previously applied for benefits, you must have earned at least 6 times your new weekly benefit amount since the last time you qualified for benefits.

If you do not meet the wage requirements in the base period, the state may use an alternate base period standard. You must meet certain criteria, such as experiencing a documented medical condition during the standard base period that forced you out of work. The alternate base period consists of the four quarters immediately prior to your filing a claim.

You must meet all of the requirements above in order to qualify for benefits. If you have any questions regarding whether or not you meet the criteria, you may call Tele-Center toll free at 800-939-6631.

Determining Your Benefit Amount

The state also uses the base period wages to determine how much you will receive each week.

 The state calculates your weekly benefit amount (WBA) by finding the base-period quarter with the highest total wages. Divide that number by 25 and round to the nearest dollar.
It cannot exceed the maximum allowed by law, which is on your benefit statement. Your maximum benefit amount (MBA) is the lesser of 26 times your weekly amount or 27 percent of all your wages in the base period.
The maximum WBA you can receive in Texas is $493 (as of 2017). The minimum amount is $66.
The TWC website offers users a widget to estimate your WBA.

How to Apply for Unemployment in TX

One of the biggest advantages you have in filing for unemployment in Texas is that you’re able to complete the application online with the Texas Workforce Commission by visiting http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/unemployment-benefits-services.html. Optionally, you may contact the Tele-Center office at 800-939-6631. The office hours are Monday-Friday from 7AM-6PM central time.

Prior to filling out the application it’s a great idea to have all of the necessary paperwork by your side because you will be required to provide a good deal of personal information to help verify your application. The information you will be asked for includes:

  • Name and address of your last place of employment
  • Beginning and ending date of your last employer
  • Information regarding you last payment wages
  • Number of hours worked and pay rate if you worked during the same week you’re applying for unemployment
  • Alien Registration Card (for non U.S. citizens)

In order to apply for benefits online, you will need to set up an online account. This is simple and can be done at http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/unemployment-benefits-services.html.

It’s important to note that after your application has been submitted you will not be able to edit anything. If for any reason you need to make a change you must call the Tele-Center the next business day at 1-800-939-6631 to see if anything can be done.

After the Application

Once you have completed your application, you must allow at least 2 business days for the TWC to review your application before you check on the status of your unemployment claim. The TWC will send two documents regarding your eligibility. One will be a Statement of Wages and Potential Benefit Amount. This will address your wage eligibility and tell you how much you could receive. The second will be a Notice of Determination which will note whether the state approved your claim.

You must register for work online at www.workintexas.com or at a Texas Workforce Center within 3 days of filing for unemployment.

Maintaining Eligibility and Weekly Claims

The TWC requires that you maintain your eligibility status while you receive benefits. You must:

  • Remain able and available to work
  • Make a significant effort to find work
  • Accept any offer of suitable employment
  • Remain unemployed – You may work; however, your wages may not exceed your WBA

The state requires that you certify your eligibility every time you request a benefit payment. You will request a payment every two weeks. You request a payment online or by telephone by calling Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321.

When you request a payment through either venue, the system will ask questions designed to determine your eligibility for that two week period (e.g., are you able and available to work). The system will also ask:

  • Whether you started or quit a job
  • Whether you refused suitable employment
  • Whether you earned any wages or income during that period

You should begin requesting payments within a week of the date you filed your initial claim. If you don’t, you will not receive payments for those weeks even if the state ultimately approves your claim. You will not receive payments for ANY WEEK in which you have not requested a payment.

If for some reason you miss a payment, you must call the TWC to attempt to address the matter.

Work Search Requirement

Looking for work is a requirement. You will have already registered with WorkinTexas.com when you filed your initial claim. You have to continue looking for work while you are receiving benefits.

You will have to make a minimum number of job search activities during each week you receive benefits. The TWC may investigate whether you are actually looking for work at any time, so keep a record of your job search activities. The TWC lists what they consider acceptable job search activities on their website. Some acceptable activities include:

  • Looking for work at WorkinTexas.com, and following up on job openings you discover
  • Making personal contact with someone capable of making a hiring decision with an employer looking for workers
  • Use various online resources from .gov or .org sites that may help you find work
  • Visit a Texas Workforce Solutions location in person and conduct job search or training activities

The state also offers special reemployment activities for workers who may have additional difficulties finding work before their benefit weeks end. The TWC will notify you if they have selected you to participate in this program. If called to participate, you must attend or face loosing benefits.

Some workers are exempt from the work search requirement. Most often, these workers are seasonal workers with a reasonable expectation of returning to the same job after the lack of work period ends. If you are in state-approved training, the TWC may exempt you from the requirement.

The state will notify you if you are exempt.

Part-time Work and Benefits

You may work part-time and still receive benefits. If your wages exceed your WBA, the state will not consider you to be unemployed and you will not be eligible for benefits. The state will also consider you employed if you work full-time hours even if your wages do not exceed your WBA.

You must report gross wages earned during the week you earned them, not during the week you are paid.

If you earn more than 25% of your WBA, the state will reduce your benefit payment. You will still keep your earnings for those weeks.

Receiving your benefits

Once you’ve been approved for your unemployment benefits, the next step will be to start receiving your payments. You have two options for getting your payments.

1: Direct Deposit into your Bank Account

2: TWC Visa Debit Card

By default, your payments will be made via the TWC Visa card. In order to receive direct deposit, you must request it at www.ui.texasworkforce.org. You will need your 9 digit routing number and your bank account number. This information can be found at the bottom of your checks or you can contact your bank. You have to wait 1 business day after you apply for unemployment in order to change your payment options.

Reasons for Denial of Benefits

If you do not meet the wage requirements (you don’t make enough money during your base period), the state will deny benefits. The state will notify you of this decision in the Statement of Wages and Potential Benefit Amount.

If you qualify through the wage determination, the TWC can still deny benefits for other reasons. Most often, the state denies benefits because of separation issues. The state will notify you regarding a denial of your claim because of such issues.

If your actions or decisions cause your separation from work, the TWC will deny benefits. If:

  • you quit work without good cause, or for reasons not connected to your work
  • you were dismissed for “misconduct connected to work.”

If you quit to go back to school, decide to stay home with children or become self-employed, the state will deny benefits. They are “good” reasons to quit, but benefit you personally, not your employer.

If your employer dismisses you for cause, the state may consider the dismissal to be misconduct connected to the work. “Misconduct” is generally any activity that shows a complete disregard for the employers interest. This could be a repeated violation of a policy, or a one-time incident.

There are other non-separation issues that may cause the TWC to deny your claim. Some are:

  • Ability to work (became ill after leaving work and cannot work)
  • Available to work (incarcerated, out of town)
  • refusing suitable employment

Quit and Still Eligible

You may have quit for a good cause. You made a decision to leave like a reasonable person might in similar circumstances.

  • Escaping a domestic violence situation or stalking and had to leave the city
  • Your employer forced you to work in unsafe conditions
  • Had to quit because of an illness but attempted to return to work when able and found no work available

You will have to show that you made a good effort to work things out with your boss before quitting. You may have to provide evidence, such as if you claim an illness forced you to leave work.

Fired and Still Eligible

Your employer may dismiss you for violating a policy, even if you violate it only once (and their policy allows it). However, your actions in violating that policy may not be misconduct connected to work. For example, your employer may dismiss you if you don’t perform your job as required. However, you may not have been in fact qualified to perform the work. That would not be misconduct.

Your employer may dismiss you for something you did outside your job if their policy states. Employers may dismiss you because you got arrested for a minor offense. However, this may not be misconduct “connected to work.”

You will have to show the examiner these circumstances exist when you file your claim.

What Happens When TWC Denies Benefits: Appeals Process

If you’re ever in a situation where you disagree with the ruling of the Texas Workforce Commission, you have the ability to petition for an appeal. You have 14 days from the date the TWC mailed the decision, not the date you received it, to file your appeal.

You may file your appeal online, fax or mail your appeal letter to the TWC appeals office. If you have any questions in regards to appeals email [email protected].

If you are denied benefits, please visit our section on appealing benefits decision in Texas.

Useful Resources

If you have any questions regarding Texas unemployment benefits, you may contact the Texas Workforce Commission. Here are some links that should help you:

Texas Workforce Commission

Website: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/

State Phone Number: 512-463-2222

Email: fill out form here https://services.twc.state.tx.us/UBS/contactUs.do

WFC Offices: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/dirs/wdas/wfc_list.pdf

List of Workforce Development Boards: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/dirs/wdbs/wdbweb.html

Find the Nearest WFC office near you: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/dirs/wdas/directory-offices-services.html

Request payments, get payment info, get general information, or check on the status of a claim:

Tele-Serv: 800-558-8321

  • Live service available Monday-Friday from 7AM-6PM Central time
  • Automated message available 24/7

Customer service

Tele-Center: 800-939-6631

  • Monday-Friday 7AM-6PM Central Time

TWC FAQ

https://services.twc.state.tx.us/UBS/changeLocale.do?language=en&country=US&page=/portalfaq.do#whatdoesAFB

Benefits Chase Debit Card Support
Phone: 866-865-1273
Web: http://www.chase.com

Find Jobs in Texas
http://www.texas.gov/en/discover/Pages/topic.aspx?topicid=/jobs

Unemployment Insurance
http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/1822/

Texas Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/1679/