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Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - July 2009
Copyright 2009 - Polk County Publishing Company

TWC Extends Unemployment Benefits
Houston County Courier -  July 2009

AUSTIN – The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) on Friday, July 17 announced that it will begin paying benefits to jobless Texans who qualify for 13 weeks of state extended benefits by the end of July. TWC will begin sending letters to claimants beginning July 24, 2009 with instructions on how to file for the new extension. A dedicated telephone hot line will be established to take claims. 
At the direction of the governor, TWC worked this week with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to expedite payments for eligible Texans after realizing it would have taken months to reprogram computers to address the extensive eligibility and reporting requirements.
“Earlier this week upon learning that extensive federal eligibility verification and reporting requirements could delay extended unemployment benefit payments to eligible Texans, my office directed the Texas Workforce Commission to address the problem and find a solution to provide Texans with timely benefits,” said Gov. Rick Perry.
“I am pleased TWC has worked with the Department of Labor on a solution that will allow eligible Texans to begin receiving extended unemployment benefits by July 31, without the months of delay that had initially been predicted.”
 Chairman Pauken added, “ I and my fellow Commissioners learned as well this week of a potential gap in the payment to claimants entitled to extended benefits. I immediately instructed staff to come up with a plan to expedite the payments of those benefits. Specifically, I asked staff to come forward with a solution to this problem so that benefits could begin to be paid by the end of this month.  I am pleased that the TWC staff has taken the necessary action to get this accomplished.”
Since the end of May, after Gov. Perry worked with the Legislature to change the law to allow for state extended benefits, the agency began addressing the necessary transition of the system to accommodate the stringent federal requirements.
Through an agreement with DOL, TWC will be allowed to temporarily defer certain federal requirements, allowing for immediate payment of extended benefits to thousands of long-term unemployed Texans.
This 13-week state extension is available to claimants that have exhausted 59 weeks of unemployment benefits. TWC estimates that as many as 100,000 claimants could exhaust their unemployment benefits by November 2009 and may be eligible for the new extension.



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