TWC pays out $499M in claims as more self-employed, independent contractors become eligible for COVID-19 benefits

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Jacques “Uncle Q” Carney gives his client Kurious Strickland a hair cut at Top of the Line Barbershop on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Like other barbershops and salons around Chattanooga, Top of the Line will have to close its doors tomorrow to adhere with Mayor Berke’s Executive Order 2020-04, which orders businesses that cannot properly implement social distancing practices to shut down until April 16 at the earliest in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and caronavirus. (Troy Stolt /Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ann Winn can sympathize with the Texas Workforce Commission, but something’s gotta give.

“I’m sure TWC is working with the resources and funds they have and their hands are tied,” Winn said. “I don’t feel this is intentional but it’s hard to be understanding when your life is contingent on the relief that other states have already received.”

Winn is a self-employed hairdresser.

Among the updates during Wednesday afternoon’s media briefing, TWC spokesman Cisco Gamez noted that more than 60,000 claims from self-employed and independent contractors have already been automatically converted this week to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

“We’re going to continue to convert those claims,” Gamez said.

That’s because the federal CARES Act includes unemployment benefits for self-employed and independent contractors. These workers typically aren’t eligible for these benefits normally.

To date, more than 1.5 million Texans have applied for unemployment. And the agency has already paid out more than $499 million in benefits so far this week to 259,000 Texans.

As for Winn, who has called, emailed and even tweeted at officials, she’s still waiting on her benefits.

“I feel as hairdressers we are going to be pushed back to work too early,” Winn said. “In part because relief still hasn’t happened.”

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