Editor's note: This story was updated on June 8 to reflect new information from the Texas Workforce Commission about how gig workers and self-employed Texans can qualify for extended benefits.
Texans receiving unemployment could be eligible for a total of 52 weeks of benefits — double the typical amount of time aid is available — as the state triggered an extended benefits period, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Unemployed Texans have historically received up to 26 weeks of benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor notified the Texas Workforce Commission on Monday that the state triggered what's called State Extended Benefits, which provides 13 additional weeks of unemployment aid. That comes after a federal coronavirus relief bill previously extended some unemployment benefits for 13 weeks under what's called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
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The first week Texans could start receiving these newest extended benefits is the week ending July 4, which is 13 weeks after the PEUC extension took effect in the state. People must first exhaust the standard 26 weeks, plus the additional 13 weeks under PEUC, before receiving the additional 13 weeks of extended benefits, said Cisco Gamez, spokesperson for the commission. People receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance offered through the federal coronavirus bill — such as self-employed workers and independent contractors — can receive extended benefits if they have already exhausted 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits before receiving PUA, Gamez said.
PEUC provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits and is available through the week ending Dec. 26. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation offers an additional $600 in benefits per week and is available until the week ending July 25.
Extended benefits date to 1971 and kick in during times of high unemployment. In April, the state's unemployment rate was 12.8%, topping the previous high of 9.2% in 1986. The state's unemployment rate exceeded the 5% threshold to trigger the latest extended benefits period, which the federal government reimburses to the state.
According to the Department of Labor, 2.2 million Texans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. The Texas Workforce Commission has paid out $9.7 billion in benefits using state and federal funds.