The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is the state agency that administers unemployment benefits in our state. TWC began disbursing disaster-related funds on April 12, with $183 million disbursed to date.
The following suggestions are intended to help Texas REALTORS® navigate the application process.
Two Funding Resources for REALTORS® Affected by COVID-19
There are two types of disaster-related unemployment benefits available until certain dates, so REALTORS® are advised to apply as soon as possible to take advantage of the funds.
1. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
- Provides $600 per week for either up to 13 weeks or until July 31, whichever comes first
- No income limit.
2. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- Provides between $207/week (minimum) and $521/week (maximum) for up to 39 weeks
- Program expires Dec. 26, 2020
- To increase the amount beyond the minimum, self-employed/independent contractors should submit income verification documents (1099, Schedule F, C, or SE) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants are automatically enrolled in both programs and can receive FPUC and PUA funds simultaneously.
Follow These Steps to File Online
Please note that TWC’s system wasn’t designed to accommodate independent contractors, so some of the questions or terminology in the application may not apply to you as a REALTOR®. Complete the application as it best describes your situation.
2. Create an account—you’ll need a User ID and password to file for unemployment.
a. From the homepage, find the Quick Links list in the blue bar near the top, then click “Unemployment Benefits Services” on the list. From the UBS page, click “Log on with your existing TWC User ID or create a new User ID” and follow the steps to create a new User ID (if you don’t already have an account).
3. Complete the application.
c. Under “Reason No Longer Working,” select “Disaster” and be sure to indicate in the details that you were impacted by COVID-19 or coronavirus.
4. Once you have submitted your application, you’ll receive information about next steps, requirements, and instructions.
Why You May Receive an Initial Denial
TWC’s system automatically searches for an applicant’s reported W-2 income, so you may receive a message that your application is denied because you had $0 reported last year.
This is because TWC’s system was not designed to accept applications from independent contractors/self-employed individuals—TWC staff advises those applicants to ignore the initial denial letter.
Check Your TWC Inbox Often
Once you have applied, be sure you’re receiving TWC’s messages by logging on and selecting “Electronic Correspondence” from the Quick Links menu. This free service allows you to receive unemployment notices and forms electronically in a secure, online mailbox.
Be sure to check these messages frequently—information about your claim will be sent here. You are responsible for regularly checking for these messages.
You Must Request Payment
TWC will not automatically send you payments—you must request payment through TWC’s system every two weeks online or by phone. Do not wait for TWC to notify you of your eligibility.
- Applicants will receive instructions for requesting payment after applying.
- Click here to learn more about requesting payment.
If you applied before April 9, 2020, you will be automatically enrolled in the federal programs; however, you should submit a request for payment before waiting for TWC to notify you.
Select Your Payment Option
Choose a benefit payment method to receive funds: either direct deposit—the preferred, faster method—or a debit card.
- Direct Deposit: For more information see Receiving Benefit Payments by Direct Deposit.
- Debit Card: For more information see Receiving Benefit Payments by Debit Card.
You can change your payment option online or by phone:
- Log on to UBS and select Change Payment Option from the Quick Links menu.
- Call Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and select option 5.
Funds Are Taxable
Unemployment benefits are taxable, so TWC will send you a 1099 to report the income on your 2020 federal income taxes next year. Recipients may wish to consider withholding a percentage of the funds for tax purposes.
TWC’s online and phone systems have been inundated with applicants, so it may take time to complete your application. TWC is increasing their capacity and staffing to expedite the application process and have advised applicants to keep trying until they are able to successfully apply and request funds.
TWC’s help line at 800-939-6631 is now open from 7 a.m. Central to 7 p.m. Central, seven days a week.