Texas Workforce Commission Update

April 8, 2020

These are challenging times for all of us. Please know that my office and I are doing all that we can do to help however and wherever possible. While the Texas Workforce Commission is doing their best to provide timely benefits to all eligible Texans, we’ve heard from many of you about issues applying on the website or inability to get through the TWC phone lines. While my office is working to resolve your issues as quickly as possible, the TWC has given my office the following updates on their efforts to enhance service and capacity. They continue to update their website so please continue to visit www.twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/unemployment.


The Texas Workforce Commission is continuing to update the webpages on their website for COVID-19 related information for Employers, Jobseekers, and Child Care. TWC has updated the Jobseekers page with information on the federal unemployment insurance benefits passed in the CARES Act. In addition to this information, an infographic was posted that explains to claimants what they should do in order to file for benefits. The Child Care page also continues to be updated with resources for parents who are seeking child care assistance due to COVID-19.

Also, on TWC’s main homepage, a link has been added where you can view data on COVID-19 related Unemployment Insurance Claims numbers, including a breakdown of claims by county..

Unemployment Insurance Claims Capacity

TWC is continuing to receive historically high numbers of unemployment insurance claims. Since March 14th, TWC has taken over 800,000 claims.

Call volumes at TWC’s tele-centers and web traffic to TWC’s online Unemployment Insurance application system remains at historically high levels. In addition to the actions TWC has previously taken to increase capacity, TWC is taking further efforts. Two additional call centers have come online and TWC is working on a third addition to go online next week. A second third-party call center will come online this week and the TWC is working on signing an agreement with a third call center that will go online next week. This will bring TWC’s total number of call centers up to seven. Also, TWC’s call center hours will increase to 7 AM – 7PM.

TWC has also been working with AT&T to add 400 lines to their Tele-center network as well as additional line capacity to their automated payment request line.

Also, those who have filed for Unemployment Insurance Benefits may have received notices from TWC stating they need to contact TWC by a certain date, and failure to do so will result in their not receiving benefits. Due to the volume of claims, TWC is waiving any such stated deadline. So if an individual receives one of these notices, they will not be penalized if they fail to contact TWC by the date specified to provide additional information.

TWC is working to further increase the server capacity of their system by increasing the number of servers from 10-20. Previously, they had increased the number of servers from 5 to 10.

TWC is also working with Deloitte to create a separate site for the public to use for claim submission.

In addition, TWC has hired 78 of the 100 emergency hires the agency has posted to increase staff at TWC’s call centers.

Last week the TWC also added a chat bot to their internet home page which is capable of answering common questions about unemployment benefits. Currently, the chat bot has helped over 175,000 Texans by responding to over 456,596 questions. Also, the chat bot is a learning chat bot so it grows the number of questions it can answer over time. It began last week being able to answer 20 questions and already has increased its capacity to 54 of the most common questions. They have also upgraded the bot to have the ability to handle 20,000 concurrent users. This service helps call volumes by answering these basic questions that would otherwise need to be answered by the TWC call centers.

Finally, last Friday, TWC announced staggered claims filing to help ease the numbers of individuals trying to file claims at one time. TWC has recommended that claimants file unemployment insurance claims and make other calls at assigned times based on their area codes. This measure is designed to spread out the demand on the system to allow more Texans to file claims and receive assistance concerning benefits.


Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The first of the federal unemployment insurance benefits enacted under the CARES Act are now online. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program provides benefits for individuals not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, such as those self-employed or independent contractors.

Again, TWC has published an info-graphic on their website which provides information about how to access benefits, whether for an initial application or where there was a prior denial.

The Emergency Increase in Unemployment Insurance Benefits, which is the extra $600 in addition to an individual’s weekly amount of unemployment insurance benefits, will go live beginning this Sunday, April 12.

Child Care

TWC continues to work with Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC) Child Care Licensing and the Governor’s Frontline Child Care Task Force to provide child and family care resources for frontline workers essential to the COVID-19 response.

What my office is doing to help

For the past few weeks, I have been requesting that TWC extend it’s hours and days to better respond to the volume of calls and claims. We are pleased to report that TWC has now extended its hours to 7 am to 7 pm and, beginning April 14th, the call centers will operate 7 days a week.

To further assist with the volume of calls and claims to TWC, I am offering to loan our Legislative Director, German Lopez, to TWC to assist with the volume of calls and claims being received by TWC. I anticipate other House and Senate staff members being similarly made available to assist both TWC and the hundreds of thousands of Texans suddenly finding themselves unemployed due to the ramifications of COVID – 19.

Our Chief of Staff, Rocky Gage, and I will continue to be available to assist with any questions or issues, so please reach out to us at any time at (512) 463-0686.

We will continue to keep you informed of any developments we believe will be of assistance to you, either through further updates like this or postings on the Resource page of our website (stevefortexas.com) and, in the meantime, please stay safe and well.