As Texas communities continue their response to the impact of COVID-19, we want to follow up with additional information and resources for residents.
Every Texan who qualifies for unemployment benefits will receive them. So far, since March 15th, we have taken more claims than we did in all of calendar year 2019. While 90% of our claims are completed online, we have also received as many as 1.5 million calls per day. To address this, we doubled our phone lines, added 3 externally-staffed call centers, and are close to having almost 3,000 call operators and support staff working on unemployment claims-taking, up almost 300% from the beginning of March 2020. Our call center hours have been extended to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
We have begun paying on claims to Texans around the state. Between March 15th and April 8th, we have issued $246 million in payments to claimants who have successfully filed claims and made a payment request. We have also implemented the CARES Act provisions. The $600 additional payment will be automatically sent to claimants who are already receiving benefits. We encourage residents to be aware that sole proprietors, contractors, musicians and part-time workers can be eligible for unemployment benefits through the provisions of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and to file on our website at twc.texas.gov.