TWC pays out $499M in claims as more self-employed, independent contractors become eligible for COVID-19 benefits

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ann Winn can sympathize with the Texas Workforce Commission, but something’s gotta give.

“I’m sure TWC is working with the resources and funds they have and their hands are tied,” Winn said. “I don’t feel this is intentional but it’s hard to be understanding when your life is contingent on the relief that other states have already received.”

Winn is a self-employed hairdresser.

Among the updates during Wednesday afternoon’s media briefing, TWC spokesman Cisco Gamez noted that more than 60,000 claims from self-employed and independent contractors have already been automatically converted this week to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

“We’re going to continue to convert those claims,” Gamez said.

That’s because the federal CARES Act includes unemployment benefits for self-employed and independent contractors. These workers typically aren’t eligible for these benefits normally.

To date, more than 1.5 million Texans have applied for unemployment. And the agency has already paid out more than $499 million in benefits so far this week to 259,000 Texans.

As for Winn, who has called, emailed and even tweeted at officials, she’s still waiting on her benefits.

“I feel as hairdressers we are going to be pushed back to work too early,” Winn said. “In part because relief still hasn’t happened.”

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