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Unemployment Benefits Eligibility
General Benefits Eligibility Criteria
To receive unemployment benefits in Texas, there are four areas in which you must meet the appropriate qualifications. Two qualifications are determined before you begin receiving benefits:
- Job separation
- Base-period wages
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While details are provided below, the best way to determine if you are eligible is to apply through the Texas Workforce Commision with accurate and up-to-date information.
Work Eligibility Criteria
The first qualification for unemployment in Texas is that you must be unemployed (or have reduced hours) due to circumstances beyond your control such as a layoff. In most cases, it cannot be due to misconduct or quitting for personal reasons. The Texas Workforce Commission may be able to qualify you for benefits if one of the following circumstances has occurred:
- Sexual assaults, stalking or domestic abuse (must be a documented case)
- Fired without work-related misconduct
- Quit due to employer’s inability to pay wages timely or unsafe working conditions (must show documentation of attempts to resolve the issue before resigning)
- Quit to care for a terminally ill spouse or minor child with medical illness
- Attempting to reenter workforce after recovering from a documented illness that prevented you from working
- Labor dispute or strike
- Relocating with a military spouse
Wages Eligibility Criteria
The second qualification, your base period, is a calculation that not only determines eligibility, but also the Weekly Benefit Amount (amount awarded weekly) and the Maximum Benefit Amount (total dollar amount of benefits that can be collected over 52 weeks).
The base period will be the period of time during the first four of the last five completed quarters before your claim start date. For example, if you file for benefits in July 2016, your base period will be the wages earned between April 2015 and March 2016. You must have earned wages in at least two of the four quarters to qualify. In addition, during the span of the base period, your total wages must be over $2,405 (37 times the minimum Weekly Benefit Amount that would be awarded).
There is an option for an Alternate Base Period to be considered in the case of disability, illness, or pregnancy. To request this option, call the Texas Workforce Commission at 800-939-6631.
Unemployment Availability Limits
Assuming that you meet all of the eligibility requirements, Texans can receive 26 weeks of benefits over a 52 week period beginning on the Sunday that you applied for benefits. Once your benefit year starts, it remains in effect even if you run out of funds or have been disqualified for any reason.
To continue qualifying for benefits, you must also register on WorkInTexas.com and complete minimum work search requirements. The specifics for this requirement will be sent to you in the mail and will provide guidance on what is considered reasonable employment options. By the eighth week of unemployment, you will be expected to lower the compensation requested to 75 percent of your previous wages. In addition to completing weekly job searches, you will need to remain able and available to work.
Texas will only extend benefits if there is a high unemployment rate in the state as determined by federal legislation that calls for extended benefits. The Federal program that allows for Unemployment Extensions is the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program and it has not been called for since December 2013. If Texas’ unemployment rate were to rise significantly, extension would be allowed and all recipients that had the ability or option to receive this benefit would receive communication via mail.
If you have exhausted your benefits, Texas has a variety of programs available to help with everything from your job search, mortgage assistance, continued education, or health insurance. All available options and programs can be reviewed at a local Workforce Solutions office.