Answering your questions about unemployment benefits

Answering your questions about unemployment benefits
Answering your questions about unemployment benefits

HOUSTON – More than two million Texans have applied for unemployment since mid-March and that number is increasing every day. Trying to get benefits and navigate an incredibly crowded system is frustrating for many of you. Consumer expert Amy Davis is answering some of the most common questions she’s getting about the application process.

Q: I have spent hours trying to get through to the Texas Workforce Commission with no luck. The lines are constantly busy. What is the best way to reach a real person?

A: Even with eight call centers that are open seven days a week from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., staffed with more than 1000 call takers, the Texas Workforce Commission is swamped. The number to call the TWC Tele-Center is 1-800-939-6631. The TWC recommends people call as soon as the lines open on Saturday and Sunday or later closer to 7 p.m. Those are the least busy times.

You can also try to engage with the virtual assistance on “Larry the Chatbot” can help you if you are having problems with your PIN or password, among other issues. You can also ask Larry to have a TWC representative call you.

Q: “My husband started on unemployment. He has not gotten any back pay, just from the date he applied. I’ve talked to other people about this. Some got it. Some said it came several weeks later.”

A: The TWC says every case is different. Sometimes the Commission does backdate benefits automatically. If you didn’t receive back pay and you lost your job before the date you applied for unemployment because of the pandemic, you need to call the telecenter and ask for your claim to be backdated.

Q: How long will I receive unemployment?

A: Usually in Texas, you can only collect unemployment benefits for 26 weeks. The first federal coronavirus relief bill extended that an additional 13 weeks. Monday, June 1st, the feds added 13 more weeks, making it a total of 52 weeks that eligible Texans can collect unemployment.

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