FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – More than 150,000 Texans have filed for unemployment in the past week, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Texans who are out of work can file for unemployment benefits online at any time or by calling the Texas Workforce Commission at 1-800-939-6631.
The call center is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
James McKinney consider himself lucky.
The nightclub DJ successfully filed for unemployment this week using the Texas Workforce Commission website.
His secret? Logging on when everyone else was off.
“I went on three o’clock the next morning and I got through,” McKinney said.
Now unemployment claims are flooding TWC’s call center and website, causing the system to crash for many users.
But the influx of requests has prompted the state agency to make changes.
“We’ve increased server capacity, the size of our servers, we’ve also increased the number of servers we have available to serve more people online,” said Ed Serna, the executive director of the Texas Workforce Commission.
The agency is also expanding its system so more staffers can take calls from home, adding to the 700 employees already working at call centers.
Other changes include eliminating the work-search requirement and suspending the week waiting period before receiving benefits.
Serna said there is enough funding available to process all benefits, but remained open to the possibility that could change.
“There’s enough funding now and if necessary, we will seek additional funding from the federal government to make sure that everyone that needs benefits, gets benefits,” Serna said.
McKinney expects to receive his benefits next week, but he said his heart is with workers who are still waiting.
“Is this going to last through the pandemic? I mean [is the state] really prepared for how widespread this has become and how bad people are going to be in need?” McKinney said.
Some things will not be changing. Usually, people can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks.
Serna said there is no plan to extend that provision for now.