Aide for Musicians Through the CARES Act

May 26, 2020

With the Passage of the CARES Act on March 27, The Federal Government is subsidizing important unemployment benefits that now cover musicians who have lost work due to the Covid-19 Crisis.
This new legislation gives jobless musicians and other working people larger unemployment benefits over a longer period of time—including those who rely on freelance jobs. For the first time, musicians whose work is covered by 1099s are eligible for benefits – if they are out of work due to the COVID-19 shut down – and they have every right to apply.
To apply: first, gather all of your payments from all sources over the course of the past 4 quarters (W2 income, 1099 income and other self-employment income). Then go to the Texas Workers Commission website and begin the process to APPLY ONLINE FOR BENEFITS. You will need to sign up for a TWC User ID and Password and begin the online application.
As you begin this process, prepare toyou have great patience and be persistent! The system is very challenged now by the (1) sheer volume of applications being filed and (2) the difficulties of implementing the new law, and updating the system to adapt. (If you have trouble logging onto the website during regular hours, you might try logging on during the night.)
Do the best you can answering the questions in the application. If you do not know how to answer every question, answer to the best of your knowledge and keep going. What is most important is that you get in the system, and get your application submitted. Once this part of the process if finished, you can log back into the system, and go to “Claim and Payment Status”. If you are an independent contractor, you will likely be notified that you are not eligible for Regular Benefits. At this point you should have the option to view “another claim”, which should lead you to the choice of “Disaster Unemployment Benefits”. This will calculate a minimum benefit for you, and you will need to then need to submit proof of income from 2019 (1099s) for your benefit to be recalculated, and possibly raised to a higher benefit amount based on your actual income. As confusing as the online process may be, you should be given the option of calling in by phone throughout the process. Unfortunately, call volume has caused many to complain that they cannot get through. This is where patience is very important. The benefits are available during this period, and TWC has announced that applicants will not be penalized for a delay due to call or user volume. Claims for individuals affected by COVID-19 are eligible to be backdated, but applications do need to be made in order to receive the benefits afforded to you through the CARES Act.