Applying for unemployment during the coronavirus crisis

Taryn Sullivan • Food Editor

Were you temporarily or permanently laid off due to COVID-19? If so, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Here are some things to know before you apply.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the rapid increase in unemployment has caused the TWC website to become overwhelmed with high volumes of visitors. To combat this, the TWC recommends trying the site between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., as these hours are showing a lower volume on the online portal.

Normally, in order to qualify as eligible, one must be able to work, be available for work and be looking for work each week, with the TWC verifying each qualification. However, the TWC is temporarily waiving these requirements to ensure all Texans can have access to the resources they need.

To apply for benefits online, log on to Unemployment Benefits Services at

Unemployment Benefits Services
All photos courtesy of the Texas Workforce Commission

First, you will need to create a user ID and password. Next, you will answer initial questions, like if you’ve served in the military or filed within the last 12 months.

Logon Page

Initial Questions

Next, you will enter in your personal information. You will need to know the dates of your last employment, including the first date you worked and the last date you worked.

Getting Started

Keep in mind that unemployment benefits are taxable income, meaning that you have the option to take the federal income taxes out of your benefits. If you mark this option, the TWC will withhold 10% of each payment to go toward your taxes.

Next, you will need to fill out more information about your last employer. This includes: last employer identification, location, phone number, job information, salary (or hourly, weekly and monthly income), work hours and reason for no longer working. Right now, COVID-19 can be selected for a reason for no longer working.

Last Employer

Next, you will create a four-digit personal identification number. This is your secret passcode and has the same legal authority as your signature. Do not share this PIN with anybody, not even a TWC employee or family member.

After you create a PIN, you will be taken to a page to mark how you want to receive your benefits. There are two ways to receive these benefits: by debit card or by direct deposit to your United States bank or credit union account. If you choose direct deposit, have your bank account information close by (routing number and checking account number).

Payment Option

Next, you will review and submit your application. Carefully make sure all of your answers are correct before you select submit. You cannot change your application online after you’ve submitted.

Although you’ve submitted your application, there are more steps to complete, and without full completion, you may delay or lose your benefits.

Printing the next few pages is recommended, as this is the only opportunity you will have to see them. You are responsible for regularly checking your online inbox on the TWC website. Keep up with these and remember your day to file.

Next steps, requirements, and instructions

Typically, there would be a waiting week after you submit your application, but due to the current situation, Gov. Greg Abbot instructed the TWC to waive the waiting week, thereby making opportunities for relief available to Texans who need it.

After all of the above necessary steps are taken, the application should be completed. After completion, it takes four weeks from the date you apply for benefits to know if you are eligible. You can check your claim status online at Unemployment Benefits Services or call 800-558-8321 and select option two.

Times are tough right now, and if you’re even a little unsure of your eligibility, apply anyways. It doesn’t hurt to explore available resources. Anything helps, and this may be a resource that could help many.

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