Skip to Content

Unemployment Benefits - Claimant Services

This information is not designed to cover all aspects of the unemployment insurance claims process.
The statements provided are for general information only and are not to be construed as law or regulation.

What Is Unemployment Insurance?

Unemployment insurance benefits provide income to individuals who have lost work through no fault of their own. The benefits are intended to partially offset the loss of wages while an unemployed worker searches for suitable work, or until his employer can recall him to work.

This coverage is authorized in the Tennessee Employment Security Law, which requires most types of employers with one or more employees to pay the cost of the insurance. Nothing is deducted from the employee's wages to pay for this coverage.

Ex-servicemen and former federal civilian workers may consult their local Career Center regarding eligibility.

You do not have to be totally unemployed in order to receive unemployment insurance benefits. You may have eligibility if you still have a job, but your employer has temporarily reduced your hours of work, or if you have lost your regular job, but you have some work at which you earn less than your weekly benefit amount.

  • Online Services
    Apply for Unemployment
    Weekly Certification
    Report a Missing Check
    File a Wage Protest
    File an Appeal
    View Benefits/Update Information
    View/Update Payment Type

Weekly Benefit Amount

Tennessee law provides a formula by which the Division of Employment Security calculates your weekly benefit amount. The total amount you may draw during your benefit year is determined, under that formula, by the total amount of wages you earned in your base period. Your base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding your filing a valid new claim for benefits.

Base Period Chart - English, Base Period Chart - Spanish

Requirements For Eligibility

There are certain requirements that you must meet before you can receive unemployment insurance benefits. Among these are the following:

1. You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own and be approved for benefits.

2. You must have worked in employment that is covered by unemployment insurance and have qualifying wages in the base period.

3. You must be physically able to work at the time you file your first claim.

4. You must be available to accept suitable work offered to you.

5. You must have earned enough wages at your work to qualify for benefits.

6. After filing your claim, you must serve one week of waiting for which no payment is made. You will be paid for your waiting week if and when you have certified and been eligible for benefits in your waiting week and in each of the three consecutive weeks immediately following your waiting week.

7. Each week, you must report the gross amount of any money you have earned during that week, even if you are not paid until later.

How To File A Claim For Unemployment Insurance Benefits

*Most residents in Tennessee can file claims by telephone or online.   However, if you live in Fayette, Tipton, Lauderdale or Shelby counties, only "lack of work" claims may be filed online.   Otherwise, residents in these four counties must file in person at one of these locations.

Where to File


Go to
Sunday - Friday
8am - Midnight
Internet not available on Saturday

You can apply for unemployment or update your weekly certification. Once you are registered, you can report a missing check, file a wage protest, file an appeal and update your personal information.

If you don't have access to a computer, they are available at your local Tennessee Career Center. Only lack-of-work claims may be filed on the Internet. No Federal Claims will be accepted.


(615) 253-0800 or
1 (877) 813-0950

Please do not use cordless or cellular telephone equipment.

Telephone service is available at all Career Center Locations. Ask a front desk representative for assistance.

Wednesday through Friday are preferred call days due to lower call volume.

Individuals without a recall date may be required to register for work while receiving benefits. You may register for job search assistance at Tennessee Career Centers.

Please have the following ready for Internet or telephone claims:

  • Social Security Number
  • Drivers License Number
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Separating Employer's Name
  • Separating Employer's Address
  • Separating Employer's Telephone Number
  • Separating Employer's Fax Number (if known)
  • Last Day Worked
  • Reason for Separation
  • Last 18 months of Employment

Benefit Offices and the UI Claims Center are open Monday through Friday, except holidays.

Benefit offices hours:

8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

UI Claims Center

9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time

UI Claims Center
PO Box 280870
Nashville, TN 37228-0870

Phone:  615-253-0800 (Nashville area)
Fax:615-253-0808 or 615-253-0809
1-877-813-0950 toll-free

(If you are calling long distance to Nashville from Tennessee or from out-of-state)

To file by phone, you will need to use a touch tone phone.

DO NOT USE cordless or cellular telephone equipment. They tend to disconnect.

To file a claim through the Claims Center, please click here to find the phone number for your county.

You call (toll free) 1-877-813-0950 to file a claim for unemployment insurance if you live outside of Tennessee and are filing a claim against Tennessee.

If you live in Tennessee but worked in another state, you will file your claim for unemployment insurance against the state where your wages were reported. Some states, like Tennessee, take unemployment claims by telephone or over the Internet, from out of state residents. See the list below for states that file unemployment claims by telephone or by Internet. If you worked in a state not listed, please contact your nearest Labor and Workforce Development Benefit Office to file your claim. For a Directory of Benefit Offices, choose Benefit Offices under the Claimant Services menu.

Interstate (ICON) Guide Card

Information Needed to File a Claim

Please have the following information available when you file your claim either by phone or at your local Labor and Workforce Development Office.

Social Security Number

Drivers License Number


Telephone Number

Separating Employer's Name

Separating Employer's Address

Separating Employer's Telephone Number

Separating Employer's Fax Number (if known)

Last Day Worked

Reason for Separation

Places of Employment for the last 18 months

When you file a claim for benefits in a local Labor and Workforce Development Office, be sure to take your Social Security card and separation notice with you if your employer provided one. However, you may file a claim without a separation notice as a separation notice is not mandatory.

Privacy Act Statement

Disclosure of your Social Security number is mandatory to establish an unemployment insurance claim. Your Social Security number is used for processing your claim, for statistical purposes, to verify your eligibility for unemployment benefits and to report your benefits to the Internal Revenue Service as taxable income. Should you decline to disclose your Social Security number your claim will not be processed. Your Social Security number is requested under the authority of the Internal Revenue Code.


Information contained in your unemployment insurance claim file may be released to other government agencies, as required by law. Click here for a listing of office locations.