Unemployment Benefits Overview

Unemployment benefits provide temporary, partial income replacement for qualified individuals who are unemployed or partially unemployed (working part-time) through no fault of their own. The benefits help unemployed workers who are looking for new jobs. Applicants must meet requirements concerning their past wages and job separation, register for work search on TWC's online job resource, WorkInTexas.com, be able and available for work, and actively look for work.

Employers pay unemployment insurance taxes and reimbursements, which support unemployment benefit payments. Employees do not pay unemployment taxes and employers cannot deduct unemployment taxes from employees' paychecks.

TWC will request job separation and past wage information related to individuals' unemployment claims. It is important for you to respond promptly to our employer notices such as the Notice of Application for Unemployment Benefits or Request for Work Separation Information, to help ensure that benefit claims are paid correctly and employer charges are accurate.  We send employers written or electronic notice of claims filed if they were the individual's last employer or the claim is based on wages they paid the individual.

The Texas Unemployment Compensation Act (TUCA) and other state and federal laws and regulations, including the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) govern the unemployment benefits program.  The Authority & Funding section of our Unemployment Benefits – Program Overview page provides links for additional laws, regulations and guidance.

See Unemployment Claim Management and Unemployment Tax for more information for businesses & employers.  Unemployment Benefits has information for job seekers and employees.

Return to Top

Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

TWC evaluates unemployment benefits claims based on the applicant's:

  • Past wages
  • Type of job separation
  • Ongoing eligibility requirements

An individual must meet all requirements in each of these three areas to qualify for unemployment benefits.  Unemployment Benefits for job seekers and employees provides information for claimants on eligibility requirements. 

Past Wages

We use the taxable wages each employer reported paying during the person's base period to calculate benefits. Each employer who paid wages during the base period may be charged for the claim.  Employer Unemployment Benefit Chargebacks explains how employers are charged for unemployment benefits.

Base Period

The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the effective date of the initial claim. The effective date is the Sunday of the week in which the person applies for unemployment benefits.

Types of Job Separation

To be eligible for benefits based on the job separation, the person must be either unemployed or working reduced hours through no fault of their own. Examples include layoff, reduction in hours or wages not related to misconduct, being fired for reasons other than misconduct, or quitting with good cause related to work. If you paid wages to the individual during the base period, you would be charged if they received benefits.

Laid Off

Layoffs are due to lack of work, not work performance, so with a layoff the individual may be eligible for benefits. For example, you have no more work available, eliminated the employee's position or closed the business.

Working Reduced Hours

If the individual is working but you reduced their hours, they may be eligible for benefits. The reduction in hours must not be the result of a disciplinary action or because of the person's request.

Fired

If you ended the individual's employment but he or she was not laid off as defined above, then the individual was fired. If you demanded their resignation, then we consider the individual fired.

A person may be eligible for benefits if they were fired for reasons other than misconduct. Examples of misconduct that could make them ineligible for benefits include violation of company policy, violation of law, neglect or mismanagement of a position, or failure to perform work adequately if capable of doing so.

Quit

If the individual chose to end their employment, then he or she quit. Most people who quit their jobs do not receive unemployment benefits. For example, if the person quit the job for personal reasons, such as to return to school full time or stay home with their children, we cannot pay benefits.

The individual may be eligible for benefits if they quit for one of the reasons listed below:

  • Quit for good cause connected with the work, which means a work-related reason that would make a person who wants to remain employed leave employment. The individual should be able to present evidence that they tried to correct work-related problems before quitting.

    Examples of quitting for a good work-related reason are well-documented instances of:
  • Quit for a good reason not related to work, under limited circumstances. TWC may be able to protect your account from charge if the claimant quit for one of the reasons listed below. Examples include leaving work because of:
  • Quit to move with the individual's spouse when the move is not part of a qualifying military permanent change of station (PCS). The person may be eligible for benefits but will be disqualified for 6 to 25 weeks, depending on the situation. The maximum benefit amount the person could be paid is also reduced by the number of disqualified weeks. TWC may be able to protect your account from charge if the claimant left work due to a PCS.

Labor Dispute

If an individual or their class of workers is financing, participating in or directly involved in a strike, we cannot pay the person benefits during the strike.

  • Class of Worker: The grade or class of worker is based on the type of work the person performed. For example: If electricians are on strike and the person is an electrician then he or she can be considered the same grade or class of worker that is on strike and will benefit from the strike. If the person is in a supervisory, non-manual classification and electricians are on strike, then he or she would not be considered in the same grade or class as the electricians.
  • Financing a Strike: Any payment such as union dues that are used to finance a strike or other payments made to a strike fund that assists striking members.

If the individual and their class of workers are not financing, participating in or directly involved in the strike, he or she may be eligible for benefits.

Disaster-Related Separation

TWC protects the employer's account from charge in approved Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) cases. Individuals who lose their jobs or businesses as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the President of the United States may qualify for federal DUA. The person must exhaust regular unemployment benefits before applying for DUA. Applicants can learn more about DUA claims at Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

Ongoing Eligibility Requirements

To receive payments, claimants must meet both the initial requirements for establishing a payable unemployment benefits claim and additional ongoing requirements.  Ongoing Eligibility Requirements for Receiving Unemployment Benefits provides details for job seekers and employees.

Ending a Disqualification

A claimant who is disqualified from receiving benefits may be able to end the disqualification through work or earnings.  The Learning the Result of Your Application for Benefits page for claimants provides information on how to end a disqualification.

Payment Requests

To request unemployment benefit payment, totally or partially unemployed claimants submit a payment request online or by phone every two weeks for the previous two-week period.  When requesting payment, they answer several questions regarding their work and earnings and whether they met eligibility requirements during the claim period.

Reporting Work & Earnings

When making a payment request, claimants must report hours worked and gross earnings (before deductions) from any full-time, part-time or temporary work; net profit from self-employment; vacation or holiday pay; and commissions. Those earnings must be reported even though the claimant may not have yet received payment. There are no exceptions. TWC computes how much a claimant can earn before we deduct those earnings from their weekly benefit amount plus 25%. Claimants who earn more than their weekly benefit amount plus 25% cannot receive benefits for that week.

Return to Top

Benefit Amounts

Unemployment benefit amounts are based on the eligible individual's past wages, within the current minimum and maximum weekly benefit amounts in Texas. The Eligibility & Benefit Amounts page for job seekers and employees provides information for claimants on how we calculate weekly and maximum benefit amounts, and includes an online unemployment benefits estimator.

Return to Top

Severance Pay or Wages Paid Instead of Notice of Layoff

A laid-off employee who receives wages instead of notice or most other severance pay is eligible for benefits after the weeks covered by those wages.

Wages Paid Instead of Notice of Layoff

Wages paid instead of notice of layoff are payments an employer makes to an employee who is separated without receiving prior notice. Texas law prohibits individuals from qualifying for unemployment benefits while receiving wages paid instead of notice of layoff. We make a decision on whether the wages paid instead of notice of layoff affect the claimant’s benefits.

You must report any wages paid instead of notice of layoff to TWC when you respond to the Notice of Application. To respond, log on to the Unemployment Insurance Employer Response to Notice of Application system.

Severance Pay

Severance pay is a sum of money an employee is eligible to receive upon job separation. You may have a company policy to pay severance pay. Texas law prohibits individuals from qualifying for unemployment benefits while receiving certain types of severance pay. We make a decision on whether the severance pay affects the claimant’s benefits.

You must report any severance pay to TWC when you respond to the Notice of Application. To respond, log on to the Unemployment Insurance Employer Response to Notice of Application system.

Return to Top

Noncitizens

TWC can pay benefits to claimants who are noncitizens only if they are authorized to work in the United States. Noncitizens must give us their Alien Registration number so that we can verify their status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If USCIS cannot verify that the claimant is currently authorized to work in the United States, we cannot pay benefits. TWC can only use wages earned legally to compute benefits.

Return to Top

Employees of Educational Institutions

TWC considers the following when determining eligibility for unemployment benefits for teachers and school employees working in a noninstructional position:

  • Whether the employee is on a scheduled break. If the employee has wages from an educational institution in the base period of their unemployment claim, is on a scheduled break in the school year and has a contract or reasonable assurance of a job in the next academic term or after the break, the employee generally would not qualify for benefits because TWC cannot use the school wages to calculate benefit amounts.
  • Type of job separation. If the employee loses their job through no fault of their own, they might qualify for unemployment benefits. Eligibility for benefits is determined on a case-by-case basis.

If You Worked For a School provides information for job seekers and employees who have worked for an educational institution.

Return to Top