How Can the Texas Workforce Commission Help Me?

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Author: Leonard Simmons

If our nation’s massive unemployment problem affects you, the Texas Workforce Commission can offer a lifeline. Every penny counts in a bad economy. The state’s unemployment benefits can help. Here is an overview of what TWC can do for you and your recourse if you are denied benefits.

The Texas Workforce Commission is the state’s authorized agency for unemployment benefits. It is free to apply for these benefits. It is also a relatively simple matter but it requires diligence, attention to detail and a willingness to follow through.

To receive benefits, you must actively seek work; however, you can still receive a portion of the benefits if you find lower paying work, such as temporary work, freelance, consulting, or day labor. Finally, you must be able to prove that you have actively searched for work each week.

The three basic steps to this system are:

1. First, apply for benefits. You will call or log onto the TWC Web site. You will be required to provide information about yourself, your previous employment and the reason why you are no longer working.
2. Once approved, you will record and submit your search for work each week and list any earnings you received for the week.
3. Any earnings will be drawn against your weekly benefit amount (WBA)

If you work while receiving unemployment benefits, TWC allows you to earn up to 25 percent of your weekly benefits and still receive the full benefit amount When you earn more than this amount, the Workforce Commission reduces your weekly benefits on a dollar for dollar basis.

Being let go from a large corporation or modest company is frightening. For wage earners who support families and have financial obligations – which, of course, includes most Texans – TWC can be an effective safety net. Here are simplified examples of the weekly benefit draw against earned wages that apply during a period of declared unemployment:

If your weekly benefits are $200, and you earned $50 in a given week (25 percent of your WBA) doing consulting work or odd jobs, you would still receive your full WBA for that week.

If the next week you earn $100, which equals $50 more than 25 percent of your WBA, so your state unemployment benefits would be reduced by $50.

If the following week you earn $300, which is 125 percent of your weekly benefits, you will not receive unemployment benefits for that week.

What if your application for benefits is denied? You might consider hiring an employment lawyer. He or she will aggressively contest this action. If you do not think you can afford a lawyer’s advice, consider the results of a landmark 2008 study: It revealed that when employees try to represent themselves over labor disputes, they are successful only 20 percent of the time. Aggressive and knowledgeable counsel can make all the difference. In many cases, lawyers will work with you or refer you to low cost legal aid. So it is a more affordable option than you think, and the benefits will be well worth the investment.

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