What are Unemployment Benefits?
Unemployment benefits provide temporary, partial income replacement to qualified individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Unemployment benefits are available if you meet eligibility requirements. If you collect benefits, you are legally responsible for following the rules set by state law. Unemployment benefits must be reported as income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Am I Eligible for Benefits?
You are generally eligible to receive benefits if:
- You worked for the employer for at least one year prior to being let go;
- You were let to through no fault of your own, such as a layoff, a reduction in hours not related to misconduct, or fired for reasons other than misconduct.
- If you quit, you are not eligible for benefits, unless you can prove that you quit for a “good work-related reason,” such as not being paid.
- If you quit your job for a personal reason, such as staying home with your children or not liking the job, you will not receive benefits.
- You are able, available, and actively seeking full-time work each week that you request payment of benefits.
- You complete the TWC’s minimum work search requirements each week that you request payment of benefits.
How Do I Apply?
You can apply online through the TWC’s Unemployment Benefit Services. On the web page, select “Apply for Benefits,” and read the TWC’s “Applying for Unemployment Benefits Tutorial” for help applying online. You can also call a Tele-Center at 800-939-6631, and speak to a TWC customer service representative.
When Should I Apply?
You should apply for benefits as soon as you become unemployed. When you apply for unemployment benefits, the effective date of your initial claim is the Sunday of the week in which you apply. You cannot collect benefits for any time before your effective date.
Will My Settlement Payment Affect My Benefits?
Severance pay is a sum of money that an employee is eligible to receive upon separation. Employers may have a company policy to pay severance pay, or you may receive a severance payment as part of a lawsuit settlement. You must report any severance pay to TWC. Under Texas law, you cannot receive benefits while you are receiving certain types of severance pay. The TWC will mail you a decision on whether your severance pay affects your unemployment benefits. Courts generally define “severance pay” as a payment the employer has obligated itself to make, either verbally or in writing, which is based upon a set formula, such as length of prior service. For example, an employer may have a company policy that a terminating employee is entitled to one month’s wages for every year of service. The term usually does not include any payment made to settle a claim or lawsuit. Thus, severance pay that is unilaterally offered (for example, in a policy or in a job offer letter) would affect your benefits, but a negotiated severance payment would not.
What Happens After I Apply?
It takes about four weeks from the date you apply for benefits to know if you are eligible for benefits. The TWC uses this time to gather information on your past wages, job separation, and general eligibility. The TWC will send your last employer a letter with the reason you gave for no longer working there. By law, your employer has 14 days to respond. If the employer provides new or different information, the TWC may contact you for additional information. Eventually, they will decide whether you are eligible based on the information gathered from you and your employer. Watch your mail for the “Determination on Payment of Unemployment Benefits.”If your benefits are denied, you may appeal the TWC determination. You must give written notice that you disagree with the decision, and want your case decided through the appeal process. The first appeal is a telephone hearing. This is typically the point in the process where we get involved. You and your employer may both present testimony, witnesses, and documents relevant to the case. After the hearing, the Hearing Officer will mail his or her decision on the appeal.If you disagree with the results of the Appeal Tribunal, further appeals are available. Please Contact Us for additional information.