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Here’s what you need to know about requesting your unemployment payment

You have to request it. Texas Workforce Commission won’t automatically send it.

AUSTIN, Texas — Now is the time to request unemployment checks for the thousands who applied for unemployment two weeks ago. 

Note: You have to request it. Texas Workforce Commission won’t automatically send it.

“People receiving a message with a deadline to respond to discuss eligibility will not be penalized if they have trouble getting through. If possible, we recommend that they request payments online,” said Cisco Gamez, media and public relations specialist at Texas Workforce Commission.

Many people are having trouble, like Tofer Flowers.

“I can’t do anything. It doesn’t take me anywhere to do anything or request the money,” said Flowers.

He first got a message the website “can’t be reached.”

Credit: kvue

Once he did get to a page, his Unemployment Benefits Services login wouldn’t work. It suggested he use the WorkInTexas.com login and password. It’s the site where you look for jobs.

Between the two sites, Flowers got messages ranging from his username is deactivated to his reset took too long.

Here’s what we know:

You will get your money, but it may be late.

You have trouble getting into our system because of the busy or the computer system being sluggish and slow, that we will be backdating. Backdating your claims so that you get the benefits that you need. So, you don't have to worry about the claim being dated two weeks after you were impacted by this. You couldn't get in for two weeks. We will be backdating those claims,” said Texas Workforce Commission Executive Director Ed Serna live on Facebook.

Payment requests happen on specific days

“TWC will limit access for online payment requests based on the day listed on your filing instructions. Sunday through Wednesday are assigned filing days. All users may file online Thursday through Saturday. This restriction does not apply to individuals filing a new claim for unemployment,” TWC’s website shows.

Serna said 90% of all claims come through their online portals, which is what the commission recommends.

“Our system runs on a mainframe computer, proved to be very stable, but very, very difficult to update and modify as needed,” said Serna.

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More servers will be coming online

Recently, TWC doubled its amount of servers from five to 10.  They expect to expand to 20 servers soon.

In an effort to handle the capacity, TWC moved the main page to a cloud server, created a chatbot on that same server to handle general questions, and the IT department is staffed 24/7.

"We know that the numbers are going to continue to grow. We're going to continue to improve and continue to work to get those expanding numbers address," said Serna.

Serna said the IT department now works 24 hours every day.

About that additional $600/week CARES Act money

“We will automatically address that and we will add that $600 a week to your unemployment insurance benefit,” said Serna.

Benefits expired? 

"We're not just going back to the beginning of March of this year when the pandemic began, but we're actually going to be looking all the way back into 2019  to whether you're eligible for an extension if your benefits expired any time during that period of time. Again, if you have your benefits are extended additional 13 weeks, I believe, then you would also be eligible for the $600," said Serna.

Serna said TWC will contact anyone who would be eligible.

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How that COVID-19 box on your application plays a role:

"Whether you select whether you are unemployed because of COVID-19 or unemployed, you check that box. You didn't check that box, you will still receive benefits if you are eligible to be," said Serna.

But don’t ignore it.

“What checking that box does is it enables us to determine how many people are affected by COVID-19. So, if the federal government ever issues additional benefit or has additional things that we can use to benefit our customers, we'll be able to [select it] and get you additional assistance that the federal government or the state government is providing to you,” said Serna.

The looking-for-work requirement is suspended for now

"We know that would be impossible during these times when so many businesses are growing as well just to keep their doors open, and more are to continue to make sense, to require work," said Serna.

No word on when this will change.

From the TWC website:

You must request payment to receive benefits. Request benefit payment as instructed, approximately one to two weeks after you apply for benefits, and every two weeks after that. You can find the date you are scheduled to request payment online using TWC’s Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321. If you do not request payment within the calendar week your request is due, your payment may be delayed or denied.

When requesting payment, you will answer several questions regarding your work and earnings and whether you met eligibility requirements during the claim period. You must then certify that your responses are true and complete. If you work during a benefit payment period, report your gross earnings as part of your payment request. For detailed information, go to Report Your Work & Earnings.

You can request benefit payments online or by phone:

Online: 24 hours a day using Unemployment Benefits Services at ui.texasworkforce.org. Select Request a Payment. You will need a User ID and password. For more information about the password requirements, go to Managing Your Benefits Password & PIN. Use the same User ID and password that you use for WorkInTexas.com.

Phone: Tele-Serv, an automated telephone system, at 800-558-8321. Select Option 1. You will need your Social Security number and the four-digit PIN you created when you first applied for benefits.

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