Seeking Texas unemployment benefits? Here are 3 pressing questions answered by workforce expert

HOUSTON – Malissa Williams said she loved her job as an airline ticket agent in Houston.

"I work for British Airways, proudly, love it, love my job," she said.

Like hundreds of thousands of other Texans, Williams has worked at British Airways for 30 years and was suddenly out of work. She was laid off about one month ago today.

"I received a phone call from my manager saying, 'Sorry to tell you, no easy way to say this, but we are not flying now, and you are being laid off,'" Williams said.

Malissa filed for unemployment benefits through the Texas Workforce Commission that same day. Now her biggest concern is when she will finally start getting the money. She said she applied for unemployment through the TWC's online portal, but so far has received nothing.

She hasn't even been able to get through on the agency's helpline.

"I've tried hundreds of times, if not a thousand… and never actually spoken to a human being," Williams said.

Williams and dozens of other KPRC 2 viewers had many concerns regarding the Texas unemployment benefits. We spoke with TWC representative Cisco Gamez about some of the most pressing questions.

Question No. 1

VIEWER: What is the Texas Workforce Commission doing to help people get help through their phone lines and online?

Gamez: We are focused on helping Texans in need. And we are doing that by extending our call center hours, adding more employment insurance services. We are improving our phone and web systems. We are doing that to provide the service that Texans deserve and need.

Question No. 2

VIEWER: I still have not been able to apply for unemployment online or by phone. I have been out of work for weeks, will I get paid for all of that lost time?

Gamez: Everyone that is qualified will receive benefits. It won't just be from the day they are applying on, but we're going to backdate that money as far back as March 8th: from that time that they stopped working, from the time they had their hours reduced, from when they were furloughed or when they were laid off.

Question No. 3

VIEWER: I have applied for help, but have not gotten paid yet. What can I do to speed up my unemployment payment?

Gamez: One of our biggest problems is people who are applying to us but are not requesting payment on the website. They can do that on the day that they apply, and they should continue to do that every two weeks. If they have not received their payment, they should continue to request payment.

About the Author:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.