SAN ANTONIO – Across the country, unemployment claims are shooting up due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Texas is no different.
In a Facebook livestream on Wednesday, Texas Workforce Commission Executive Director Ed Serna said that their website and phone lines have been inundated since the pandemic prompted cities and counties to issue stay-at-home orders, leaving thousands of people without a job.
On a normal day, the workforce commission fields 13,000 calls about unemployment insurance claims, Serna said. Now, they’re fielding roughly 100,000 daily calls. Serna said the workforce commission has reassigned more employees to work the call center and are in the process of hiring 100 temporary employees to help get claims processed faster.
“I assure you we will help everyone that needs help,” Serna said. “I know it is hard to hear this, but I ask you have a little bit of patience with us.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued certain orders to help speed up the process, like waiving the 10-day waiting period tied to unemployment benefits and the work search requirement that was previously in place.
So, what should you do if your job was affected by the pandemic?
People who live in the San Antonio area should call Workforce Solutions Alamo at 210-224-HELP. The organization provides services for employees and employers, helping connect them with each other.
Visit www.workforcesolutionsalamo.org for updates as well or contact the offices below:
- Walzem 210-822-7640
- Marbach 210-436-0670
- E. Houston 210-581-0190
- S. Flores 210-928-3985
- Datapoint 210-438-0581
- Pleasanton 830-569-4702
- Bandera 830-569-4702
- New Braunfels 830-629-2010
- Pearsall 830-334-4244
- Fredericksburg 830-481-0088
- Seguin 830-379-4244
- Kenedy 830-583-3332
- Boerne 830-249-9229
- Kerrville 830-257-3171
- Hondo 830-426-8111
- Floresville 830-393-040
Because of social distancing measured implemented by the city, the organization recommends calling to set up an appointment and receive help.
Besides trying to get people employed again, Workforce Solutions Alamo can also assist people in applying for unemployment insurance through the Texas Workforce Commission.
How to apply for unemployment insurance
The Texas Workforce Commission website has been updated for the latest information related to relief efforts during the pandemic.
Unemployment claims can be filed online or by calling 800-939-6631. Employees are operating the phones from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays.
What to do if website or phone doesn’t work
Several people have complained about how long it is taking for to reach a representative on the phone and website issues. Serna said the workforce commission has been expanding server capacity and trying to assign more people to call centers to help meet the demand.
Serna is asking people be patient.
“I would recommend you continue to call at different times or continue to access our system at different times,” Serna said.
What if I’m self-employed?
Under current law, self-employed people are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. However, that may change with some bills that are being debated and voted on in Congress, Serna said.
What if I owe money to the Texas Workforce Commission?
Some people who have received unemployment benefits in the past sometimes may owe money to the workforce commission, Serna said.
Typically, that debt would be deducted from any benefits the individual receives, but Serna said the commission is deferring any collections until the pandemic is over.
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