SAN ANTONIO — The coronavirus pandemic is costing people their paychecks. The state is struggling to meet their pleas for relief.
So many people who were recently laid off are reaching out to the Texas Workforce Commission for help that the agency's website and call centers have been overwhelmed. As a result, Texans are having trouble filing their claims online and getting through to a representative over the phone.
TWC Executive Director Ed Serna said he understands the frustration that thousands across the state are feeling. During a Facebook Live on Wednesday, he addressed those concerns and explained TWC's response.
"We are very familiar with dealing with emergency situations—Hurricane Harvey, ice storms in North Texas, flooding in South Texas," Serna said. "The unique situation we're presented with, with regard to COVID-19, is different than anything anybody in the state has dealt with."
Serna said that, on a normal day, one of their four call centers will receive about 13,000 calls. On Sunday, more than 100,000 calls were made to a single center.
Serna said they have already moved 200 employees from other divisions to the call centers, with more readying to be transferred in the coming days. He said they're also looking to hire about 100 temporary employees.
They've also extended call center hours and increased server capacity for the website.
"We're addressing everything that we can as quickly as we can," Serna said. "We know that it's frustrating and very scary. We're asking for a little bit of patience. I assure you that we will help everyone who needs help."
Serna said claims are increasing at a rapid rate. In the past week, they've had more than 150,000 people file a claim.
People may continue to have issues in the coming days as the TWC makes additional changes. If you have trouble filing your claim, Serna advised calling TWC or using the website at different times throughout the day.
He said people don't need to worry about the TWC running out of money.
"There's enough funding now," Serna said. "And, if necessary, we will seek additional funding from the federal government to ensure that everybody who needs benefits gets benefits."
The TWC's call centers are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Starting this Saturday, the call centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number to call is (800)939-6631.
You can also file a claim 24/7 through the TWC's website.