Second stimulus checks bring relief for Texans facing issues with unemployment benefits


AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Once the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package officially passes, Americans will be receiving a second round of stimulus checks.

That’s a sigh of relief for Texans who have either run out of state unemployment benefits, or stopped getting checks and can’t get through to the Texas Workforce Commission for answers, like Ken Roady.

“People just line up and they put the food in your car, it’s really great,” Roady explained his day Monday started at the food distribution center, something he’s leaned on since the pandemic began.

He also depends on unemployment benefits since his auto repair work dried up. “The gas, and the groceries and just little things for my daughters,” Roady explained.

In November, his unemployment benefits stopped coming, and when he tried to reach out to the TWC for answers, he couldn’t get through.

“I called and I called, and I called, and you get, either it’ll say it’s busy, or it’ll say that you have to call back,” Roady explained. It’s a recurring theme over the last nine months, as the TWC has experienced high call volumes.

“I called and called and called and couldn’t get ahold of anybody,” Brittan Egbert explained her experience trying to reach the TWC. After weeks with no luck, she reached out to KXAN for help, and within two days, received her benefits.

She’s been out of work since the spring, when COVID hit. She worked in the catering industry, and with an underlying medical condition, hasn’t felt safe enough to return to work.

Now, Egbert’s run out of her 26 weeks of state benefits. She said the news of the stimulus check was a blessing.

“This is just food and rent and real basic bills I’m talking about. So, you know, again, it’s just that mental safety of knowing that you’re taken care of and that you can relax a little bit and be happy for a moment or two,” Egbert explained.

But that relief won’t be immediate.

“The Treasury Secretary was on television this morning. And he said that the electronic payments will go out as early as next week,” Electronic Transactions Association VP of Governmental Affairs Scott Talbott explained Monday.

Talbott said checks arriving by mail will take even longer, especially with the post office overwhelmed during the holiday season. He said that’s why electronic payment options are so crucial.

“It is important to get the money there both quickly and securely. And the Treasury Department has a number of tools at their disposal to do that, they can send it to your bank account by ACH, they can also send it to a prepaid card if you have one on file with the Treasury. And both options provide money quickly and securely,” Talbott said.

Americans saw the benefit of these methods back in the first round of stimulus checks.

“The last round of stimulus, Treasury sent $9 billion to 57 million Americans using a prepaid card. And we think this is a great option to do to send a second round of stimulus, because the money will be available on the card and available for use within minutes,” Talbott explained.

Talbott also said while the money will most likely be sent to the avenue on file used for the first check, Americans can adjust which method they receive their payment.

“If you want to direct the money you can go on to the IRS website and enter your information and if you qualify, they will send the money to the means that you select on the IRS’ website,” Talbott said.

The Texas Workforce Commission said it will work as quickly as possible to make any changes or add extensions to current programs, if the bill passes.

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