How to Apply for Unemployment in Texas

by Dana George | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on March 27, 2020

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Losing a job is tough on everyone, no matter the cause. Here are steps you can take to claim Texas unemployment benefits.

Losing a job is tough on everyone, no matter the cause. Here are steps you can take to claim Texas unemployment benefits. 

Texans are tough people, but they're not immune to the job losses stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are one of the many people who have lost their jobs during the crisis, you probably have questions regarding unemployment. Here's a brief guide to claiming unemployment benefits in Texas.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, you may qualify for unemployment benefits if:

  • You are unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • You are ready, willing, and available to work.
  • Your past earnings within your base period meet the minimum requirements. 

Your base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you applied for benefits. So if you apply in March 2020, your base period would be Oct. 1, 2019 to Sep. 30, 2019.

The minimum earnings requirements in Texas are:

  • You must have earned wages in more than one of the four quarters.
  • Your total base period wages must be at least 37 times more than your weekly benefit amount would be.
  • If you qualified for benefits before, you must have earned six times your new weekly benefit amount since that time. 

Unlike other states, Texas has not waived any unemployment benefit requirements because of COVID-19. That means you will need to continue to actively seek work and will not receive payment for your first week of unemployment, known as the "waiting week."

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

The best and fastest way to apply for benefits in Texas is by filing online. You can also call 800-939-6631 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, but be aware that you are likely to experience very long hold times

Be prepared to supply the following:

  • Name, address, phone number, and Social Security number
  • Employment history, including:
    • Your last employer's business name, address, and phone number
    • Dates of employment
    • Number of hours worked and your pay rate
  • Alien Registration Number if you're not a U.S. citizen
  • If you want your benefits to be paid directly into your bank account, make sure you fill in your account details as the default is to pay via a prepaid debit card. 

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits? 

The minimum weekly unemployment benefit in Texas is $69 and the maximum is $521. 

Your earnings during your base period will be used to work out your weekly payment. In Texas, this is calculated by dividing the quarter with the highest earnings by 25 and rounding to the nearest dollar. To get an idea of how much that will be:

  • Work out what your base period is and find the quarter in which you earned the most money. 
  • If you earned, say, $9,300 during your highest quarter, divide that by 25 and round to the nearest dollar. It should look like this: $9,300 ÷ 25 = $372. 

You will receive a Determination Notice in the mail letting you know how much you will be eligible for. Be aware that that unemployment benefits are considered taxable income, so these are pre-tax amounts.

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?  

Texas currently allows residents to collect unemployment benefits for 26 weeks. However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

If your claim is denied, you have 14 calendar days from when they mailed you the Determination Notice to submit an appeal in writing. You can do this online, or by mail or fax. You will then receive details of a hearing, though that could take six to eight weeks.

Many people are facing tough financial decisions right now. But know that you are not alone and there is help available -- and make sure you apply for any benefits you are entitled to.

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