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Texas unemployment claims dropped by more than 41,000 last week. We have tips on how you can get help

TWC's early numbers show we may have another drop in unemployment claims this week.

AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Department of Labor shows Texas unemployment claims fell by more than 13% for the week ending April 11, the first drop in more than a month.

According to DOL, 273,567 people filed for unemployment benefits last week. In the previous week, 315,167 people sought the state's help.

Texas Workforce Commission’s early numbers show we’re on pace to drop again. More than 1.2 million have applied for unemployment so far.

“I started calling and I’d call 300 times, 200 times. I called random times. It didn’t matter,” Cyndy Harvey-Mulholland said.

Harvey-Mulholland lost work shortly before Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order closed massage therapy businesses. 

You feel like a number, like, you know, nobody cares,” Harvey-Mulholland said.

TWC spokesperson Cisco Gamez disagrees.

“We are focused on helping Texans in need, and we're doing that by extending our call center hours. We're adding more unemployment insurance services. We're improving our web and phone system, and we're doing that to continue to provide the benefits that Texans deserve and need,” Gamez said in a Facebook Live Wednesday.

TWC has three additional call centers, and its centers now operate with extended hours from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. each day, including weekends.

An additional call center will be online soon

“Monday of next week, they're going be 100% operational,” Gamez said.

TWC Executive Director Ed Serna said it would bring call center employees up to 1,500 people.

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Unemployment Q&A with the Texas Workforce Commission

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If jobs are available, now what? Tips on how to get and land a job

Because of the trouble getting through to file claims, TWC will backdate all claims. They’ll go as far back as March 8.

“We don't normally backdate, but we're making an exception because of the endemic," Serna said.

TWC numbers show about $183 million got paid out to about 137,000 people Monday.

While that averages to more than $1,300, the payments included the extra stimulus payment and backdated money. 

“Some people may have received payments backdated, so their total would be more, and not everyone qualifies to receive the same amount of benefits. The minimum weekly [unemployment] benefit amount is $69 and the maximum is $521. Everyone on Monday should have received FPUC federal funds,” Gamez said.

When your claim is approved, be sure to request payment on your designated filing day.

“One of the biggest problems we are running into is that new claimants are not requesting benefit payments,” Gamez said.

A person on unemployment needs to make the payment request every two weeks.

“If they're not doing that, we're not able to pay them when we want to. We want to help them,” Gamez said.

Look for your “designated filing day” on your claim paperwork. 

If you have trouble getting through to file, you can stop by the commission building in Austin to leave your info. A security guard keeps watch.

RELATED: 

Unemployment Q&A with the Texas Workforce Commission

If jobs are available, now what? Tips on how to get and land a job

FOR SELF-EMPLOYED

Proffer: If someone that is self-employed applies for UI benefits but has not yet submitted their 2019 tax form (to prove their wages), will they be able to receive benefits?

TWC: "Yes, for PUC claims, they will get a minimum of $207 per week. Independent contractors, self-employed people or 1099 workers have until December 26, 2020, to provide TWC with a copy of their 2019 Internal Revenue Service Form 1040 and Schedule C, F or SE. They can provide this information by fax, mail or email (instructions provided when they file).

Then, if they provide their income tax return to prove their earnings, and if they had a profit, then we will add the profit to their base period wages, and we will recalculate the benefits. They do NOT have to file a new claim to have their benefits recalculated. We will do that for them."

Proffer: If they do receive benefits, how is the amount calculated?

TWC: "We can start by directing such claimants/the media to the Eligibility and Benefit Amounts page, which explains how we calculate benefit amounts for any claimant.

Basically, applicants must have earned enough wages during the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the effective date of their claim to qualify monetarily for benefits. However, if the self-employed or independent contractors did not earn enough in their base period, then for PUC claims, they will get a minimum of $207 per week. Then, if they provide their income tax return to prove their earnings, and if they had a profit, then we will add the profit to their base period wages, and we will recalculate the benefits. Basically, for those who did earn enough in their base periods, we use our normal formula (which is: to calculate the WBA, we divide their base period quarter with the highest wages by 25 and round to the nearest dollar) – and the maximum weekly benefit amount for anyone cannot exceed $521."

Proffer: When TWC receives their 2019 tax form and their past wages are approved, will the amount of benefits they receive be updated and are they eligible to receive backdated benefits (if they did not already receive them)?

TWC: "If they provide their income tax return to prove their earnings, and if they had a profit, then we will add the profit to their base period wages, and we will recalculate the benefits. Under PUC, they should have already been receiving the minimum of $207 per week. We will adjust their weekly payment and, if they are owed backdated benefits, we would pay them at that time."

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