As Texans reap unemployment benefits, some federal assistance dwindles

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Christopher Mims needs to pay the bills.

Months went by as Mims attempted to get an error in his unemployment claim processed by the Texas Workforce Commission so he could support himself, his wife and their 6-year-old daughter.

“It took forever to get ahold of them and file for it,” he recalled, as he tried to get back pay he was owed from March after the pandemic forced him to stop working at a car rental company.

To make matters worse for some Texans— some federal unemployment benefits are running out.

After Congress failed to reinstate a weekly $600 supplement, President Donald Trump’s administration created a program which paid out $300 from the federal government, and an additional $100 by states whose governors opted in.

Texas decided not to include a state portion beyond what the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) was already paying out.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved funding through the Lost Wages Assistance for six weeks.

Some unemployed workers will get extra money for jobless benefits through the program, which was created last month.

Once the bonus money runs out, TWC will not be able to continue those benefits.

“This program had always been temporary and was expected to last until funding ended, new legislation was passed or the program expired,” Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson Cisco Gamez said.

Since mid-March, TWC has processed over 4.9 million unemployment insurance claims, over seven traditional years-worth, and paid out over $29.5 billion using state and federal money.

After KXAN investigators submitted a list of more than 500 names of Texans struggling to get their unemployment benefit claims processed, TWC has connected some of those claimants with the benefits they’ve earned, including Mims.

He expects $2,000 in benefits to drop into his account this week.

Without that help, “we would be staring homelessness in the eye,” Mims said.

Jody Barr contributed to this report.

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