HOUSTON — So many of you have reached out saying that you can’t file for unemployment.
You're saying you can’t get through on the phone and can’t apply online.
KHOU 11 asked the Texas Workforce Commission some of your questions. Cisco Gamez, media and public affairs specialist for TWC, spoke with KHOU 11 via Zoom.
Here's what he said about the trouble Texans had resetting PIN numbers.
“We did make some changes to the PIN numbers where people were having problems,” Gamez said. “So anyone before the year 2015 who had applied for unemployment insurance (or) who had an existing PIN number, those (PIN numbers) have been reset to make it easier for people to apply.”
A viewer wrote in about receiving unemployment benefits for her self-employed mother.
Here's what Gamez said about the issue.
Gamez said TWC is in the process of upgrading its system to adapt to the new legislation, the stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.
“The self-employed people and contractors will be able to apply online,” Gamez said. “If they have already applied online and they were not qualified because of past wages, they don't have to do anything because once the system is in place, they'll be notified either through email or by mail.”
“I understand those frustrations out there,” Gamez said. “You know, we've been having trouble getting through. But these are unusual times.”
The call center is now open on Saturdays. The hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to Gamez, in the last 18 days, TWC helped more than 500,000 people file for unemployment. In all of 2019, the state helped 700,000 people.
Prior to COVID-19, the call center would field between 13,000 to 20,000 calls per day. Last week, more than 1.5 million calls were made to the call center in a 24-hour period.
“That number does not reflect the people applying for unemployment benefits, but the number of times the people are calling,” Gamez said. “I don't know any call center that can handle that many calls in a single day."
According to TWC, the agency has taken about 200 people from other departments and put them in unemployment insurance services to help.
Over the last two weeks, TWC hired about 100 additional people to their call center.
“We’re still hiring, we’re hiring more,” Gamez said. “We want to help Texans in need and we will.”
Gamez said there about 600,000 job openings across the state, including jobs at TWC. They can be found here Workintexas.com.
To apply for unemployment please visit Ui.texasworkforce.org.