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Why hundreds of thousands of Texans approved for unemployment aren't receiving money

Many Texans aren’t getting unemployment because of a simple omission. Also, be careful throwing out mail-- you might trash your IRS stimulus check.

Another 128,105 Texans filed for unemployment last week. The sixth straight downtick from the week before.

A big problem though: The Texas Workforce Commission says about 250,000 filers are not requesting payments. 

It could be that they’ve found jobs and no longer need unemployment benefits. But it's likely that many are unaware that once they are approved for benefits, you still have to log in or call in every two weeks to request payments. 

TWC says it has sent letters and emails with instructions to many of those who are not requesting payments. The agency adds that before it sent messages to those filers, it set all their accounts so that they would be backdated to include the weeks they have already not claimed. 

And the best part is, those claimants may not have to call in to TWC's swamped phone lines to start claiming payments, "Normally they would need to speak to someone, but currently we are actively running queries daily to identify these individuals and set them to backdate".

Job search requirements

In other unemployment developments, now that more of the Texas economy has reopened, many are wondering when the TWC will resume requiring benefit recipients to conduct weekly job searches to continue receiving payments. 

The work search requirement has been waived so far during the pandemic. TWC has assured it will give at least two weeks of notice before resuming the requirement. 

The agency’s commissioners could possibly take up the issue at their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, June 2 at 9 a.m.

Additional weeks of unemployment

Some Texans who previously exhausted their regular 26 weeks of unemployment benefits have recently started receiving the additional 13 weeks of benefits called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). Those people were notified of the additional weeks by mail or e-mail. Now, TWC says it will do some programming soon, "That will automatically move them to PEUC. If they exhausted prior to the programming going in, they will get a letter."

Job search requirements

In other unemployment developments, now that more of the Texas economy has reopened, many are wondering when the TWC will resume requiring benefit recipients to conduct weekly job searches to continue receiving payments. 

The work search requirement has been waived so far during the pandemic. TWC has assured it will give at least two weeks of notice before resuming the requirement. 

The agency’s commissioners could possibly take up the issue at their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, June 2 at 9 a.m.

Pre-paid IRS debit cards

“Is this legit!?!?” That’s what one viewer wrote in an e-mail to WFAA, in reference to a pre-paid debit card he received in the mail with a letter saying it was from the IRS. 

He was right to be skeptical. With so much financial upheaval right now, there are lots of opportunities for scammers. 

It turns out, the card he was asking about was legit. 

The IRS explains it has sent out millions of the cards in plain envelopes that identify the sender as "Money Network Cardholder Services.” 

The debit cards are the latest version of those economic impact payments commonly known as stimulus checks. The cards can be used at many businesses that accept credit cards. 

Additionally, recipients can turn them into cash at certain ATMs or they can transfer funds into a bank account.

IRS says to file taxes online

By the way, the tax deadline has been pushed to July 15. 

If you are due a refund, the IRS advises you to file online. Agency employees are still working remotely and are not processing paper returns. 

The most recent IRS statistics show that compared to this time last year, the service has received fewer returns (-8.2%), fewer returns have been processed (-14.3%), and the number of refunds issued is way down (-13.9%). 

With the later filing date, some Americans may be waiting unnecessarily long to claim money they are due to get back from the federal government.

Mortgage rates drop again

Finally, this headline: Mortgage rates hit another all-time low

Even before the latest drop off, research firm Black Knight had estimated that nearly 13 million U.S. homeowners would benefit from refinancing at current interest rates (and again, those rates have fallen even further since that assessment). 

Some may still be waiting for an even larger discount. 

These things can be hard to predict, but huge mortgage backer Fannie Mae forecasts that rates could fall further still.

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