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COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits

This article was written by Texas Legal Services Center and applies only to COVID-19 related employment issues.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I lose my job or my work hours are cut due to COVID-19?

You may be eligible if you have enough past wages, a qualifying job separation, and meet ongoing requirements.

The Texas Workforce Commission has provided qualifying job separation scenarios here. Review these scenarios to determine how COVID-19 may affect eligibility.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if my employer sends me home due to COVID-19?

If you are not getting paid your regular full pay and do not have paid leave or not enough paid leave to cover the time off, you may be eligible.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I am fired from work because I stayed home due to COVID-19?

You may be eligible if you are staying home due to a mandatory order issued by government and your job is not considered an essential business under the order.

If your job is exempt from a government order because it is considered an essential business and you do not have COVID-19, you may not be eligible for unemployment.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if my employer reduced my hours due to COVID-19?

Yes. If you are placed on reduced hours, you may be eligible for partial unemployment.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I stay home to care for a sick family member?

You may be eligible if you lose your job and the family member you are caring for is a sick child. You may not be eligible if the family member is an adult.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, apply for benefits either online at any time using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday.

TWC is experiencing an increase in call volumes and hold times. You are encouraged to use their online claim portal, Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS), to handle your claim needs quickly.

Texas AFL CIO has also created a "how to" guide for navigating unemployment benefit applications. View it here.

What information do I need to apply for benefits?

To get started you will need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Last employer's business name, address and phone number
  • First and last dates you worked for your last employer
  • Number of hours worked and pay rate at the time you apply 
  • Military employment (service) start/end dates and a copy of your DD Form 214(s) if you served in the military during the past 18 months
  • Your alien registration number, if not a U.S. citizen or national

How much will I get if I am approved for benefits?

The amount you get in unemployment benefits varies. You can estimate your unemployment benefits online.

If you are receiving income from a pension, annuity, or retirement income, this may affect how much you receive in unemployment benefits.

If I am approved when will my benefits start?

TWC is processing claims as quickly as possible, but it can take at least four weeks to determine if you are eligible for benefits. Governor Abbott granted the Texas Workforce Commission’s request to suspend the one-week waiting period. You will be able to receive benefits immediately after your unemployment benefit application is approved.  

Where can I search for a new job?

You can search for jobs at WorkInTexas.com. However, TWC is waiving work search requirements for all claimants affected by COVID-19.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I lose my job for a reason unrelated to COVID-19?

If you lose your job for another reason, you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits. Learn more about benefits at the TWC site and these TexasLawHelp articles.