Texans still struggling to file for unemployment benefits during pandemic

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Although the Texas Workforce Commission said it's receiving less calls, the need for unemployment is still great.

The agency announced this week that it triggered state extended benefits for people who are about to lose their funds. The measure will allow for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment, but not everyone is able to get through.

Diane Mettlach has been frustrated with what she doesn't want to hear on the phone.

"I spend a lot of days crying, to tell you the truth," Mettlach said. "It's very depressing."

Her income dried up during the pandemic. Mettlach said she applied for unemployment, but was denied.

She wants to appeal, but can't get anyone on the phone.

"I look at people who are homeless under the bridge, and I'm like, 'I'm one month away from that,'" Mettlach said. "That's scary."

On Wednesday, we asked TWC for an update on the number of people answering calls.

"The Texas Workforce Commission has over 1,000 people answering calls with other TWC staff assisting with payment requests and other essential services," spokesperson for TWC Cisco Gomez said.

The agency also has 600 volunteers. The good news is fewer people are calling.

TWC said in April it received more than 16.5 million calls in one week. Last week, that number decreased to 3.7 million.

Since the pandemic, TWC said it has handled 2.9 million claims, that's four years' worth of claims in about two months.

Follow Nick Natario on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.