Texas pays unemployment benefits based on a worker’s recent earnings. Weekly benefits ranged from $60 to $415 as of 2010. Unemployment benefits provide a substitute for earnings when a worker loses a job, while he looks for another job. Recipients must qualify to receive benefits and conduct an active job search while collecting unemployment. Texas employers pay taxes to fund the program, administered by the Texas Workforce Commission.
The state looks at three basic qualifications for unemployment: past earnings; the reason why you left your last job, and availability for new work. If you didn’t earn enough prior to applying for benefits, you won’t qualify. You must lose or leave your job for a reason that isn’t your fault. A layoff is an example. If an employer reduces your hours, you may also qualify for unemployment benefits. If you’re fired for work-related misconduct, that doesn’t qualify you to receive benefits. You must be available for full-time work and capable of performing it.
Texas looks at earned wages for a 12-month period -- called the base period -- to calculate unemployment benefits. It uses calendar quarters -- three-month periods that begin in January, April, July and October -- to determine the base period. The standard base period is the four quarters prior to the last completed quarter of work. You must have earned wages for at least two quarters in the base period. If you were out of work for documented medical reasons during the standard base period, you may qualify for an alternative base period. Some types of earnings don’t qualify, including earnings from work on commission as a insurance agent or real estate broker, work as an elected official or work for a child or spouse and work for a church or a foreign government.
After you apply for unemployment, Texas sends out a benefit statement that reports your base period and the total wages that employers reported paying you during each quarter. It tells you whether you earned enough to qualify, your weekly benefit amount and the total benefit you qualify to receive. The state uses the quarter with the highest earnings during the base period to determine weekly benefits. It divides total earnings for that quarter by 25 to get the weekly amount, which is also subject to state limits on weekly benefits. Your total benefit amount is 26 times your weekly benefit or 27 percent of your total earnings for your base period, whichever is less. The state has an online calculator to estimate benefits.
Texas pays unemployment benefits by direct deposit or debit card, whichever option the recipient chooses. Unemployment benefits are taxable, and Texas mails 1099 forms to report benefits paid to each recipient. You can fill out a form to have taxes withheld from weekly benefit payments.