The state of Texas calculates workers' [unemployment benefits](https://www.twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/eligibility-benefit-amounts#:~:text=Your%20weekly%20benefit%20amount%20(%20WBA,depending%20on%20your%20past%20wages.) based on earnings from their base period. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is the agency that administers unemployment insurance benefits to claimants. It provides comprehensive information on all aspects of unemployment benefits services.
The TWC allows claimants to file for benefits, learn about eligibility requirements and calculate benefit amounts online.
Unemployment Benefit Amounts in Texas
After a worker loses their job and is approved for unemployment benefits, the Texas Workforce Commission sends the applicant a weekly benefit amount (WBA) that ranges from $72 to $563 per week. These are the minimum and maximum weekly benefit amounts in the Lone Star State. The exact amount depends on the claimant’s wages in their base period.
Benefits last for 26 weeks; if a claimant is still unemployed at that time, they may be eligible for extended benefits. To get an estimate of what they’ll receive, a claimant can use the TWC’s benefits estimator. However, this tool does not tell them if they’ll qualify for UI.
Eligibility for Texas Unemployment Benefits
The TWC evaluates a claimant’s benefits based on:
- Past wages calculated through a base period.
- Reason for leaving their job (laid-off, fired, quit or reduced hours).
- Ongoing eligibility requirements.
Claimants must meet all of these requirements to qualify for UI benefits. In terms of job separation, the claimant must be fully unemployed or receiving reduced hours through no fault of their own.
Some examples of this include layoffs; reduction in wages or hours (not as a result of misconduct); getting fired (not as a result of misconduct); or quitting with "good cause." Some examples of good cause include:
- Unsafe working conditions.
- Not getting paid.
- Moving with a military spouse to another state.
Calculating an Unemployment Claim on a Worker’s Base Period
The TWC uses an individual’s taxable wages when calculating their base period — the first four of five completed calendar quarters before the start date of applicant’s initial claim. If the unemployed worker does not have sufficient earnings in their base period, they may not be eligible for UI.
To have a claim approved, an applicant must have earnings in more than one of four calendar quarters in the base period and have base period wages 37 times their weekly benefit amount. If they previously received UI, they must have made six times their weekly benefit since then.
Calculating an Unemployment Claim Alternate Base Period
If the claimant does not meet the requirements of the base period, the TWC uses an alternate base period (ABP) to calculate wages. If they were unemployed for a minimum of seven weeks in a base-period quarter due to a verifiable disability, illness, injury or pregnancy, the TWC calculates earnings paid before that time.
For eligibility for UI, the applicant must have filed their initial claim within 24 months following the date of the disability, illness, injury or pregnancy. Applicants can contact the TWC Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 to inquire about their qualifications. They must provide documents to show:
- Nature and date of disability, illness, injury or pregnancy verified by a health care professional or practitioner through substantial physical facts.
- They could not work for at least seven weeks in at least one quarter during the main base period.
- They had more wages in the alternative base period than in the main base period (this may require proof of employment and earnings history).
Work Search Requirements for UI Benefit Payments
To maintain unemployment compensation eligibility, the claimant must show they are available, willing and able to work every week, which means looking for work while accepting benefits. They must register with a state workforce center, and make a required number of weekly job contacts.
They must record their efforts to find a job in a work search log, which the TWC can ask for at any point while the claim is open.
If an applicant is offered a suitable full-time job, they must accept it. The TWC determines suitability based on:
- Worker's qualifications, experience and training.
- Wages for similar employment in the area.
- Risks to the individual’s health, safety or morals.
- Commuting patterns from home to work.
- Length of time applicant has been without a job.
Obtaining a Job Search Exemption
A claimant can qualify for a work search exemption if they meet at least one of these criteria:
- They are temporarily laid-off with a definite return-to-work date.
- They are an active union member (in a nondiscriminatory hiring hall) in good standing.
- They are in a TWC-approved training program that includes work search exemption.
- They are in training under the state's Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
- They are in a shared-work program allowing employers to supplement workers’ earnings lost due to reduced hours with partial UI benefits.
How to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Texas
When an unemployment claim is denied by the TWC, the applicant can appeal the decision by making a written request for a hearing within 14 days from the date the agency sends its Determination Notice.
When it receives the appeal request, the TWC schedules a hearing and mails the applicant an information packet about the hearing, which typically will be by phone. Afterward, the hearing officer decides on the case and mails their decision to the applicant.
If the applicant disagrees with the hearing officer’s decision, they can appeal to the TWC’s commissioners, who will review the evidence from the first hearing and issue their decision. If the applicant disagrees with the commissioners’ decision, they may request a rehearing or file a court appeal.
- Legal Beagle: How to Apply for Unemployment in Texas
- Legal Beagle: Navigating Texas Unemployment Benefits, Amount, Services, Filing & FAQs
- TWC: Eligibility & Benefit Amounts
- TWC: Unemployment Benefits Estimator
- TWC: Unemployment Benefits Contact Information for Claimants
- TWC: If You Lost Your Job Due to Foreign Trade
- TWC: Unemployment Benefit Services Glossary
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.