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Top common unemployment claim mistakes

Initial unemployment claims filed last week totaled 280,406. People still have trouble getting paid.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Department of Labor shows Texas had more than 280,406 initial unemployment claims last week.

Many people voice frustration about not getting through to Texas Workforce Commission call centers, unemployment website crashes and having questions unanswered.

Sometimes, delays can also come from the filer. TWC offers tips to common mistakes.

Mistake: You don’t apply right away

The CARES Act gives money to people who don’t typically qualify for unemployment: self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers and part-time employees.

The CARES Act provides $600 per week for everyone unemployed until July 31.

For those who have trouble getting through, TWC will backdate claims to March 8.

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Mistake: Typing errors

Errors within your Social Security number, unaccounted wages, miscounted wages and failing to include your last day of work are among the top errors delaying claims from getting filled.

“There could also be a delay in benefits because that employee may be still receiving payment from the employer for paid time off,” Cisco Gamez, a TWC spokesperson, said on a Facebook Live Wednesday.

Once you apply for benefits, TWC will send the information to your previous employer, including the last four digits of your Social Security number. The employer verifies it. Should any problem arise, TWC suggests your documents readily available.

“If you have a check stub, that's great. If not, just have the business name, the address and maybe a possible contact number so that we can verify information,” Alejandro Espinoza, TWC telecenter operations coordinator, said in another Facebook Live video.

Mistake: Logging off too early

The website form will log you out if the screen hasn’t changed within 30 minutes. Information will not be saved.

Your claim will not be filed until you get a confirmation number on the screen.

Mistake: Not requesting payment

After you apply, TWC suggests requesting payment right away. Then, request every two weeks if you’re unemployed or until the benefit runs out. Be sure you have your password and PIN handy.

Mistake: Not verifying payment method

For first-time claims, the default payment is through a TWC debit card. If you opt for the debit card, TWC will send your payments to the card every two weeks, but you must still request a payment each time.

To change payment, select “no” on the payment option page. Then, update your information.

For people who received benefits before, the payment option screen will be set to the last-used method.  Make sure that bank information is still valid.

Mistake: Assuming denied claims are the end

People who aren’t eligible for typical unemployment but are eligible for the CARES Act payments will likely see $0 for their claim benefit. TWC says you should request payment anyway. Their software should see the request and trigger the $600 release.

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Mistake: Not checking the mail

TWC correspondence can come through email and the U.S. Postal Service. 

For email, make sure messages aren’t going to your “junk” folder.

Appeals correspondence and information about applying for benefits from special programs are only sent through USPS.

To stay qualified for unemployment benefits, you must respond to any requests from TWC or a Workforce Solutions office.

Mistake: Not signing up with WorkInTexas.com

While the job search is not required right now, it will be reinstated eventually. No date for that has been released.

When it is reinstated, those receiving unemployment benefits will get a letter from TWC requiring a certain number of searches per week.

To apply for benefits, visit ui.texasworkforce.org.

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