New call times in place for laid-off workers seeking benefits

HARLINGEN — The Texas Workforce Commission has announced new rules for calling in an application for jobless benefits in an attempt to cut wait times.

The commission this week began recommending callers phone in during assigned time slots determined by the first number of a person’s area code.

Here in the Valley, for instance, laid-off workers with a 956 area code who are seeking to apply for benefits should call between 8 a.m. and noon Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has reminded each of us the importance of acting with others in mind,” said TWC Executive Director Ed Serna. “Just as with the virus, we can treat this problem far more effectively if we work together and space out the demand rather than having everyone call at the same time.

“I know there are Texans worried about being out of work and missing their paychecks,” Serna added. “We keep working until every Texan that needs help gets help. We are asking for you to join the effort.”

More than a half-million Texans have applied for jobless benefits with TWC within the last three weeks as fallout continues from businesses temporarily shut down as non-essential.

Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott instructed TWC to waive the waiting week for jobless benefits under the governor’s declaration of a statewide disaster.

The waiting week is the first payable week of an individual’s claim for unemployment benefits. Under normal circumstances, TWC cannot pay for the first week of a claim until an individual receives two times their weekly benefit amount and returns to full-time work or has exhausted their benefits.

However, by waiving the waiting week, Abbott has provided the opportunity for TWC to provide immediate relief to Texans who lost their jobs.

Previously to be eligible for unemployment benefits, applicants were required to register for work search on and meet minimum number of work search activities per week. TWC is temporarily waiving these requirements to ensure all Texans can have access to the resources they need.

After submitting an application, you will need:

– Last employer’s business name and address

– First and last dates (month, day and year) you worked for your last employer

– Number of hours worked and pay rate if you worked this week (including Sunday)

– Information related to your normal wage

– Alien Registration Number (if not a U.S. citizen or national)

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For help, call the Tele-Center: 1-800-939-6631