The primary unemployment benefits program in Texas lasts 26 weeks, which may not be enough time for residents to find work during periods of high unemployment. In 2011, extensions are available that more than triple the standard amount of time for receiving benefits. In general, eligibility for the 26-week program makes you eligible for the extensions.
After the 26-week base period for receiving unemployment benefits, many out-of-work Texas residents are eligible for 67 more weeks of benefits for a total of 93 weeks in all. The first 47 additional weeks are Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which uses federal funds to extend benefits in all states. The final 20 weeks are Extended Benefits, which draws funding from federal and state sources.
Emergency Unemployment Compensation
EUC consists of four tiers lasting 53 weeks in all. Based on the unemployment rate as of January 2011, Texas qualifies for the first three tiers lasting 20, 14 and 13 weeks, for a total of 47 weeks. You are eligible to receive EUC benefits if your base-period wages, which determine your eligibility for initial benefits, are at least 40 times your weekly benefit amount. Funding for EUC benefits currently runs through 2011, so you must use up your regular benefits by Dec. 24, 2011, to be eligible. If you already receive EUC benefits by then, you must finish whatever tier you are on by that date to move to the next tier.
Based on the state unemployment rate, Texas residents may receive Extended Benefits for up to 20 weeks after using up regular and EUC benefits. Barring a re-authorization of funding, you may not collect Extended Benefits past Jan. 7, 2012. While EUC benefits allow you to finish your tier after funding runs out, Extended Benefits end immediately when funding expires. Work search and work availability requirements become more stringent during Extended Benefits. The state must see your work search log each week that you file a claim for Extended Benefits, and you must accept any job for which the pay is at least the minimum wage and greater than your weekly benefit amount.
If you use up your 93 weeks of benefits and still have no income source, you may be eligible for other forms of public assistance in Texas. These include food stamps, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance, and general cash assistance. Note that unlike eligibility for unemployment compensation, which depends on the wages you earned while working, eligibility for these programs hinges on income and financial resource limits.