Opinion: Filing for unemployment benefits is useless in Texas

A+cartoon+drawing+of+a+man+in+front+of+an+unemployment+building.

Rasika Gasti

Delilah Alvarado, Opinion Columnist

Local governments were not adequately prepared to deal with such high unemployment rates and their rushed solutions are not solving anything.

Applying for unemployment benefits is harder than ever before with constant busy phone lines and confusing qualifications. Filing for unemployment proves useless as only a small percentage can even claim benefits.

In Texas, more than 1 million people have filed for unemployment since March. Due to certain job closures and a demand for financial assistance, the Texas Workforce Commission, or TWC, website has seen an influx of activity that is causing a delay in application submissions.

Prior to COVID-19, the record number of calls the TWC recieved in a day was 60,000. In late March, over 1.7 million calls were made in a 24-hour period and the calls have not stopped since.

Admittedly, this substantial urgency for assistance is not something that any state is readily prepared to handle. However, the implemented solution measures are not enough. Despite three additional call centers and extended hours, Texas citizens continue to struggle to file for benefits. More needs to be done to sustain the demand.

In order to receive benefits, one must request payment on a certain filing day that is given from the website, and do this every two weeks to recieve benefits. If a person can keep up with this plan, they would have to file late at night, after midnight, for the highest chance of the process to go through.

In addition to that stress, many different problems are occurring, including login information being compromised, assigned dates being pushed back and malfunctioning servers.

Even if someone manages to file without problems, not everyone can qualify to receive benefits. Many different people from all backgrounds are unable to receive benefits because they might not have worked enough in the past six months or been working under covered employment.

Graduate students, for example, are faced with uncertainty as the likelihood for a recently unemployed grad receiving benefits is low. The Congressional Research Service Report for Congress states, “a recent graduate would need to have worked in covered employment, earned sufficient wages in his or her base period, and left his or her work involuntarily” to be eligible. Under these conditions, most states disqualify their student workers for benefits.

The few who are eligible to receive these benefits first are randomly selected. The system is essentially based on luck, rather than need.

A crucial part of the criteria for benefits in Texas is that the person must have experienced their place of work be shut down or have been laid off by no fault of their own. So, if a person chose to quit while working at an “essential business” in fear of their health, they are now ineligible for unemployment.

Even though appeals are able to be made about concerns with the virus, it varies from case to case, all of which is only plausible if the site is working properly and it is not.

Additionally, as Gov. Gregg Abbott continues to dwell on the possibility of reopening the economy, more people might be unable to apply for benefits since they have been out of work in March.

The uncertainty of reopening the state or enduring a continued closure creates more confusion as those who may be rehired or offered another job will be unable to file for employment. Even if the economy slowly resurfaces, some Texans will still be out of payment well into May, unless more businesses reopen.

Although stimulus checks are filtering out, many people are still unable to deal with further finances, including college students or people ages 17 to 24, who likely did not qualify for a stimulus check.

Filing for unemployment benefits has proven to be too difficult for the local government to handle. Trying to get payment is almost impossible or takes too long to be processed. A better system of providing Texas residents financial assistance needs to be enforced before another month passes leaving people without financial support.

If nothing changes, thousands of Texas citizens will be forced to risk their health by working in an essential line of business or continue to worry about future bills for the unforeseeable future.

– Delilah Alvarado is a journalism senior


If you liked this story, consider supporting student media through a donation or by signing up for our weekly newsletter.


Did you like this story? Share it on Flipboard

Flipboard share
Viewed 446 times, 3 visits today