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To Get Unemployment Benefits, Texans Now Need To Prove They're Searching For Work

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Michael Minasi/KUT
A boarded up business is pictured on 6th Street in downtown Austin. Businesses across the city were shutdown due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

From Texas Standard:

The Texas unemployment agency is reinstating work search requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits starting Nov. 1.

The Texas Workforce Commission had suspended the requirement because so many businesses have been closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was suspended because at the time it made no sense to require people to search for work when businesses weren't even open,” said James Bernsen, deputy director of communications for the Texas Workforce Commission.  

But that changes next month. Proving that you are searching for work while receiving unemployment benefits is a federal requirement, he said. Failing to do so could risk the loss of those benefits. 

So what do Texans need to do to prove they're looking for a job? The agency outlines how to do that here.

Bernsen says there are a variety of ways to prove a work search has been done to TWC's satisfaction. “Simply registering at WorkInTexas.com, for example, is one work search activity,” he said. 

Those receiving unemployment in Texas have to keep a work search log and record a specific number of tasks that show they are trying to get back into the work force. 

“You can go to a work workforce development office around the state,” Bernsen said. “You can attend a virtual job fair or you can even take training that we have available through several vendors.”

Those furloughed or laid off by an employer are exempt from the work search if they have been given a definite return to work date that is within 12 weeks of the layoff, he said.

Those who own their own business have typically been ineligible for unemployment. That changed during the pandemic.

“Normally, people who are self-employed would not qualify for unemployment benefits anyway, but because of the CARES Act and certain changes to deal with the pandemic that has been extended to them,” Bernsen said. 

Business owners who are self-employed have to show some sort of activity to bring their business back.

“They can document that activity and submit that in place of work search and that would qualify for them,” Bernsen said. 

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