Hello, all you fellow hunker-downers. I hope you’re home and safe.
My name is Melissa and I’m an attorney in Houston, Texas. I am a member of the Houston Lawyer Referral Service, and I have been for the last 20 years. I’ve practiced law for 20 years.
I wanted to address a couple of questions that we are seeing in our office and ways that you can handle them without having to take legal action. One of the most prevalent questions we are receiving is whether or not you can receive unemployment if you are still employed, but working a reduced number of hours as a result of the COVID pandemic.
And the answer is “yes.” If your employer has not laid you off, but you are still working, but at a reduced the number of hours resulting in a loss of pay, you can apply for partial unemployment benefits through the Texas workforce commission. You can do that either online through their website, or you can call the 800 number and apply for benefits.
Another question we are receiving often is I’m self-employed and as a result of the pandemic, not receiving any income because I can’t work, can I apply for unemployment benefits?
And the answer is “yes.” As a result of the COVID pandemic in connection with federal guidelines, the Texas workforce commission is extending unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals. You may have to provide verifying documents to show that you were self-employed and then you should receive unemployment benefits. Again, you can apply through their website texasworkforce.org, or you can call the 1800 number.
The last question that we were receiving is, am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I cannot return to work as a result of the COVID?
And the answer is “yes.” Governor Abbott has announced new Texas workforce commission guidance for unemployment claimants, for individuals that refuse to return to work as a result of the COVID. And some other reasons for a brief fusil that in which you can receive unemployment benefits is if you are 65 years or older or considered at high risk from getting COVID. Another is if a household member is at high risk for receiving or for catching COVID. If you are dying, you or a loved one is diagnosed with the COVID, you can refuse to return to work and successfully apply for unemployment benefits. If you or a family member are quarantined for 14 days, you can also refuse to return to work and receive unemployment benefits.
Additionally, if you have childcare issues, your child’s school is closed, or the daycare is closed and have no alternative for childcare, you can refuse to return to work and successfully apply for Texas workforce benefits.
Other situations can be reviewed on a case by case basis. Again, to apply, you need to go to the Texas workforce commission website or contact them via telephone.