Texas Workforce Commission appears almost designed to undermine legitiimate employee claims for unemployment benefits. I receive one or two calls every year from recipients of unemployment benefits who were overpaid unemployment benefits through TWC errors and now, TWC wants their money back. TWC essentially tells them to pay it back or else.
One young man called me from out of state saying he did disclose his part-time job. TWC continued to pay him benefits. Then, after many months, they realized their error and threatened him with suit if he did re-pay some $7,500 in overpaid benefits. I had to explain to him that it would cost him close to $7,500 to pay me to represent him regarding this error.
More, recently, I heard from a woman who was paid some $14,000 in benefits erroneously, but not erroneously. That is, when she was hired for a job, she signed an agreement saying she would not apply for unemployment benefits if she was ever fired. Well, she was fired after a few years. She applied for unemployment benefits and received them. TWC later found she was not entitled to benefits. They accused her of fraud and demanded she re-pay the benefits. She eventually had a telephone hearing and this time, TWC found the employer at fault. So, the fired employee should receive unemployment benefits, after all.
So, now she is eligible for benefits. But, TWC will not pay her benefits unless she first re-pays the $14,000. Of course, she is unemployed and does not have an extra $14,000. Talk about Catch-22. To get benefits, she must first re-pay the benefits to which she was entitled, after all. Makes my head spin….
I helped a lady with an unemployment claim appeal last year. She was required to call in each week to "register" for benefits. If she did not call in, she would not receive benefits that week. She called into TWC over and over for two weeks and could never get through. The line was always busy. Since she could never get through, she was never able to collect unemployment for those two weeks. She appealed. She testified that she could never get through. There was no testimony to the contrary. But, the TWC judge ruled against her on that one issue.
The lady with the $14,000 issue had the same experience. She tried to get advice from TWC regarding this issue in December and January and never could get past the busy signal. She finally reached someone in February.
I previously wrote about the appeals division at TWC. I talked about the head of the appeals division at TWC advising employers on how to "game the system." The head of the appeals division told employers at a conference that they could avoid unemployment claims through subterfuge. See prior post. So, yes, it almost appears that TWC is a system designed to avoid paying valid claims for unemployment benefits. Same old, same old…..