Am I eligible for unemployment?
Anyone may file a claim, but keep in mind that the basic eligibility requirements are that you have been separated from your job through no fault of your own and that you are able and available to return to work or accept suitable employment if offered. If you fail to return to work or accept suitable work when offered you are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. Any benefit you collect after refusing work will result in an overpayment and must be paid back. Refer to the "How to File" article on the helpdesk at lwdsupport.tn.gov. (https://lwdsupport.tn.gov/hc/en-us/articles/221825667-How-do-I-file-a-claim-for-Unemployment-Insurance-)
My hours have been cut, but I’m have not been laid off; am I eligible for unemployment?
It depends. Reduced hours might qualify someone for unemployment. We recommend that you go ahead and file the claim.
- If you are still making more money than what your “Weekly Benefit Amount” (as listed on your monetary determination letter) then simply do not certify as they are still considered employed.
- If you are making less than your Weekly Benefit Amount, you may be eligible to receive partial UI benefits. Each claimant will have a unique weekly benefit amount, based on their prior earnings. For reference, the maximum weekly benefit amount in Tennessee is $275. Apply for benefits and certify each week on Jobs4TN, report the earnings and the system will adjust your benefit.
It depends. If you earn less than your weekly benefit amount, you may be eligible to receive partial UI benefits. Each claimant will have a unique weekly benefit amount, based on their prior earnings. For reference, the maximum weekly benefit amount in Tennessee is $275.
You may file a claim. Our team will review your claim and determine what, if any, program is available to provide you will benefits.
I cannot work because my child’s school or daycare facility has closed due to COVID-19, and I need to stay home to take care of my child. Am I eligible for Unemployment Insurance?
If you are unable to return to work due to your child being out of school due to COVID-19, you may be permitted to remain out of work for a limited time, and still collect UI benefits. Based on guidance provided by the US Department of Labor, this exception will only apply until the date the school year was scheduled to end prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have other reliable child care options you may not be eligible for this exception. These cases will be investigated and decisions will be issued on a case-by-case basis.
My employer told me that I am being furloughed; am I eligible for unemployment?
It depends on how the furlough will affect your pay:
- If the furlough is fully paid furlough the answer is no.
- If your pay was cut or eliminated the answer is yes.
If they are full-time employees and are laid off, they rate the same benefits as any other employee.
If my doctor does not want me to work because of the virus, can I file for unemployment?
Yes. Under provisions of the CARES Act and Governor Lee’s executive order #15, being quarantined by a medical professional is a compensable separation, provided that you also meet all other eligibility requirements.
If I am not able to go to work because a medical professional told me I need to quarantine, am I eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits?
You may be eligible for benefits. Governor Lee’s Executive Order 15 opened eligibility to individuals who were forced to leave work based on the guidance from a medical professional. Additionally, the provisions of the CARES Act, provide increased eligibility to individuals who left work due to a medical quarantine.
I am an older worker and/or have an immuno-compromised health condition. I work near a lot of people and am personally uncomfortable going to work due to concerns about my health. Am I eligible for Unemployment Insurance?
Under the provisions of the CARES Act, you may be eligible for compensation under the PUA program.
Who is eligible for PUA?
Individuals are eligible for PUA if they do not qualify for regular UI benefits (including self-employed workers and independent contractors) and cannot work because they:
- Are diagnosed COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking diagnosis;
- Have a member of the household who is diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Are the primary caregiver for a child whose school or care facility closed, due to COVID-19;
- Are unable to reach their place of employment due to an imposed quarantine, or because advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine, due to COVID-19;
- Were scheduled to start new employment and cannot reach the workplace as a direct result of COVID-19;
- Became the major breadwinner because the head of household died from COVID-19;
- Quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
- Had their place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or
- Meet any additional criteria specified by U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Individuals are not eligible for PUA if they can telework or are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits (regardless of meeting a category listed above).
To apply for PUA, claimants will need to file an unemployment claim on Jobs4TN.gov or call (844) 224-5818. Filing online is the fastest, most efficient way to receive your benefits. Due to high call volume, you will experience extended wait times when applying by phone.
What is Unemployment Insurance?
Unemployment insurance (also known as UI) provides temporary cash benefits to employees who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The overarching goal of the program is a successful re-employment of all claimants. If you have worked in Tennessee within the last 18 months and lost your job, through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for TUC.
What is the maximum benefit I can receive through Unemployment Insurance?
A claimant’s benefit rate is based on the recent wages he/she earned from his/her employer(s) over the last 18 months. The maximum weekly benefit amount in Tennessee is currently $275. (Claimants would also be eligible for the additional $600 under the FPUC program until July 31, 2020.)
How do I apply for Unemployment Insurance?
ANSWER: You can file a claim by visiting jobs4tn.gov or calling 844-224-5818. Due to larger than normal call volume, we are strongly encouraging individuals wishing to file a claim to first visit the website, if possible.
When should I file my claim?
You may file your claim at any time after being laid off without pay or separated from your employer.
My employer said he/she filed on my behalf (employer mass filed (partial) claim) and submitted to the state. Do I still need to file an individual claim?
No, if your employer filed an employer mass filed claim also known as a partial claim, the state has all your information. Log into Jobs4TN.gov to monitor your claim and do your weekly certifications by answering a few questions. If you are not sure please ask your employer to avoid confusion and delays.
No, if your employer filed an employer Partial/Employer filed claim, the state has all your information. Log into Jobs4TN.gov to monitor your claim. If you are not sure which list your employer filed, please ask to avoid confusion and delays.
Yes, visit www.tn.gov/workforce/unemployment or search Google for “Tennessee Unemployment”
I'm not good with computers; can you help me file my claim?
We cannot help you at this call center. We encourage you to find a family member or friend to help you file your claim online. If that's not an option, advise them to contact the Customer Service Center at 844-224-5818. Call wait times are high so it may take longer for someone to get back with you to file the claim with you.
You should ask your separating employer what state your wages were reported and file with that state.
What other resources might be available to me?
Check out TN 211 by dialing 2-1-1 or online at tn211.mycommunitypt.com for a variety of community resources for things like emotional, housing, or food resources.
The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse also recommends the national suicide prevention lifeline, 1-800-273-8255. Help is available. In 2018, the Lifeline answered over 2.2 million calls from people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress across the United States or talk to a Tennessee-specific group via the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network
UI Application Process
Social Security Number, a Jobs4TN username and password (created during the claim process), basic personal information, employment history dates and wage amounts, bank routing number (if choosing direct deposit to receive benefits). Military, farm work, workers’ compensation, child support, and public assistant programs (like TANF and SNAP/Food Stamps) questions.
Check for typos in your Social Security number that you used when filing the claim.
Reset your password by clicking "Forgot Username/Password" on the home page on Jobs4TN.gov. If this doesn't work, leave a message with the CST Team at 844-224-5818 or email them at email@example.com to request a password reset. Then wait for an agent to reach out for assistance. An instruction page on resetting your password can be found at www.tn.gov/workforce/passwordreset
If you are separated from your employer due to a temporary shutdown or due to the Coronavirus, you can select “Lack of Work” as the separation reason. Please make sure you enter the last date you physically worked as your last day.
When filing the claim, list the last day that you actually worked. The wages received from vacation, retention fees, emergency funds, or other part-time job(s) will need to be reported on a week-to-week basis during your weekly certifications after you file the claim. After You've Filed
Each week that you are unemployed, log in to your Jobs4TN.gov account to complete your weekly claim certification. You may start certifying the first Sunday after you file your claim, and weekly thereafter. If you don’t certify for more than 2 weeks, your claim will be locked. Sometimes, more information is needed from you, if so, you will be notified by your preferred method of contact that you selected when filing your claim. So monitor your Jobs4TN account regularly, if your claim is still pending.
After filing your claim, you will receive a letter in your Jobs4TN Message Center called the “Monetary Determination Letter”. Review this letter for any mistakes in your employment history as it may affect your potential benefit amount. This letter also gives an estimate of your benefit amount, pending claim approval.
If there is an issue with the wages missing in that time period then “File a Wage Protest” on Jobs4TN.gov, more details are on your letter.
However, many will see the letter and think it’s wrong because the amounts listed may not be enough to pay bills. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. There has to be wages missing for it to be wrong.
If there are other areas of the initial claim form needs to be edited or updated, you will need to contact the department for assistance.
Does receiving a Monetary Determination letter mean I will receive UI benefits?
Not necessarily. Every claim is reviewed before a claim is approved or denied. That is why it is important that you send us information on missing wages or missing employers (from the past 18 months) as soon as possible.
In order to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, you must have sufficient earnings in your base period from a covered employer. The base period is defined as the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. Without sufficient earnings, you will not be eligible to receive benefits. However, under the provisions of the CARES Act, you may still be eligible for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. In fact, the first condition of eligibility for PUA is being ineligible for regular unemployment. After receiving a decision stating you are monetarily ineligible, you do not need to take any additional action. Our team will continue to process your claim for eligibility under the PUA program. You will receive another decision concerning your eligibility for the PUA program.
This process is currently taking much longer than normal because of the high volume of claims the Department is processing. This is a lengthy process where the Department must request proof of wages from the employer. The Department must then investigate the information submitted by the employer.
Yes, you can download the app Jobs4TN from the app store. To see a video on how the app works visit www.tn.gov/workforce/certwiththeapp
My income/wage amounts are incorrect, why can’t I change them during certification?
If wages are entered incorrectly during a certification, corrections must be adjusted by the department. This is a safety precaution to prevent a manipulation of the system that might risk an overpayment which would have to be paid back to the department.
How long does it take to process my claim after it is filed?
The program is currently receiving an unprecedented number of claims. The goal is to process claims within 21 days. You will be paid for all weeks that you are eligible for even if it takes longer to process your claim. After the claim is processed payments are made in one or two days if you are eligible for benefits.
You can choose either direct deposit or debit card. The direct deposit account does need to be a valid checking account. The debit card will be issued to you via the United States Postal Service.
1. Go to www.tn.gov/workforce/checkmyclaim at least 24 hours after you have filed your claim.
When will my extended benefits end?
The U.S. Department of Labor informed Tennessee the EB program will end and the last time claimants can certify under the EB program will be the week ending Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. These claimants can reapply to see if they are now eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Do I have to complete work searches as part of my weekly certification?
Starting Oct. 4, many claimants had to begin completing three work searches as part of their weekly certification.
If a claimant chooses to continue receiving unemployment benefits, they must make at least three potential job contacts between Sunday, Sept. 27, and Saturday, Oct. 3. They will then report those work search activities during the certification week that begins Sunday, Oct. 4. This will be part of the weekly certification moving forward.
If a claimant has a definitive return-to-work date within 16 weeks of the date of their layoff, or a COVID-19 related exemption, they do not need to complete this requirement. The system will not prompt exempt claimants to complete the work search portion of the certification process.
Most claimants are required to search for work. Self-employed individuals can fulfill this requirement by performing work activities.
If a claimant fails to complete work searches or activities, the system will automatically deny their benefits for that week.
Out of Work: Not Job Attached: Claimants who are out of work and do not have a job to return to, or a return-to-work date, are required to complete weekly work searches.
Self-employed: Work search activities for self-employed individuals can include calling on clients, advertising business services, posting business-related social media content, enhancing the business’s website, submitting bids or proposals, applying for contract or gig work, or attend training. Self-employed claimants need to continue taking proactive steps to reopen their businesses. If they do not plan to reopen their business, they must complete traditional work searches.
Out of Work: Job Attached: Claimants who are temporarily laid off or furloughed, and have a return-to-work date, are not required to complete weekly job searches.
Union Workers: Claimants, who are union workers, and attained employment through their union hiring hall, are not required to complete weekly job searches.
COVID-19: Claimants who are out of work due to one of the COVID-19 reasons listed in the CARES Act may be exempt from performing job searches. They must self-certify they are unable to look for work due to one of the approved COVID-19 designations but are otherwise able and available.
2. Or, Log in to your Jobs4TN.gov account. On your dashboard, select “Claim Summary” under the Unemployment Services box. This page lets you know if any issues that may still be pending on your claim and show the certified weeks that have been paid to you.
What happens if I do not return to my work when called back, or accept suitable work when offered?
Unless you meet a qualifying exception, refusing to return to work is a disqualifying circumstance for receiving unemployment compensation benefits. Overpayments that are deemed to be the result of fraud, will also incur penalties and interest, as well as the potential for criminal prosecution.
How will TDLWD be made aware of my failure to report back to work when recalled by my employer?
You will be asked to report any offers of work you received during the week during certification. Additionally, your employer may also report a failure to return to work.
Will the agency let me know the outcome of the refusal of return to work issue?
The agency will issue a written determination that will be delivered to your preferred method of communication.
If you disagree with the agency’s decision, you will have fifteen (15) calendar days from the mail date of the issued decision to file an appeal. You may file an appeal online via jobs4tn.gov, by email at AT.NewAppeals@tn.gov, fax to 615-741-8933, or you can mail your appeal to: TDLWD Attention: Appeals Tribunal, 220 French Landing Dr., Nashville, TN 37243.
All you need to do is stop certifying once you start working again. This lets the system know you no longer need the benefits. Continuing to certify after you have returned to work could result in an overpayment, which you would be required to pay back.
Am I required to return to work if my child care facility reopens after being closed due to COVID-19?
Yes. If you have access to reliable child care this will not qualify as an exception for refusing to return to work. Failure to return to work for this reason could in a loss of UI benefits. Additionally, any benefits you received after the employer extended an offer for you to return to work after regaining access to child care will result in an overpayment of benefits.
If I am on orders to quarantine by a medical professional or governmental agency do I need to return to my employer? Do I need to provide documentation to my employer and the agency?
You will not need to return to your employer until released by your physician or the governmental entity. However, you must supply your employer and TDLWD with documentation to support your quarantine.
I’ve exhausted my benefits, are there any programs that will extend my eligibility to receive payments?
The federal government offers two programs for claimants who have exhausted their benefits. PEUC and EB can provide additional weeks of payments. Learn how and when to file by following the step-by-step guide you'll find when you click this link: https://bit.ly/30qYrjK
Yes, unemployment benefits are considered taxable income.
COVID-19 Specific Questions
Can I receive unemployment benefits if I am out of work due to the Coronavirus pandemic?
Yes, if you meet the eligibility requirements. To file a claim go to www.tn.gov/workforce/howtofileui,
I’m concerned that if I apply for UI that my employer might retaliate against me or not call me back to work after the pandemic ends. What are my rights?
State law provides all workers with the right to file for unemployment compensation benefits. Additionally, Tennessee recently updated the Separation Notice employers provide claimants who have been separated or laid-off work. This update contains new information about each employee’s right to file for UI benefits. It should be supplied to the employee in addition to the Separation Notice.
Governor Lee’s Executive Order No. 15 modified the job search requirement for weekly certifications. The Executive Order temporarily allows for work search requirements to be modified so that an unemployment insurance claimant can satisfy requirements simply by creating and maintaining their reemployment plan, creating and maintaining a searchable and active resume, completing a career profile in Jobs4TN.gov, or any other good-faith reemployment strategy reasonably expected to result in reemployment after the health emergency ends. These modifications are only applicable to those who cannot return to work due to the COVID related exemptions already shared in other guidance.
Can I get Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for a coronavirus business closure?
The CARES Act will provide benefits to those who qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which is similar to Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The Federal CARES Act provides additional Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to Tennesseans impacted by the COVID-19 health emergency. The new federal law provides:
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance - Can provide 39 weeks of eligibility for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for UI benefits, if they meet requirements. (Self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors)
• Pandemic Unemployment Compensation - An additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all UI recipients; and,
The federal government has recently passed laws that provide additional Unemployment Insurance benefits. How do those changes impact Tennesseans?
The federal government recently created three new programs related to Unemployment Insurance compensation and COVID-19 under the provisions of the CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020. These programs include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”); Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) which provided an additional $600 per week of benefits; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) which additional 13 weeks of benefits for claimants who have exhausted regular Tennessee Unemployment Compensation (TUC) benefits. These programs are discussed in more detail below.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – 13 Additional Weeks Eligibility
I am already receiving UI. How will this program assist me?
If you exhaust your regular UI benefits (up to 26 weeks), you may receive an additional 13 weeks of additional benefits under the PEUC program.
I exhausted my benefits a few weeks ago. Am I still eligible for these 13 weeks of PEUC benefits?
Yes. Anyone who exhausted UI benefits after July 1, 2019 is eligible to receive 13 additional weeks of benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
How do I apply for PUA?
You can file a UI application online at jobs4tn.gov or call (844) 224-5818. Due to high call volume at this time, we recommend filing online outside normal business hours of 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CST. Please note, you will not be eligible for PUA until you have been determined ineligible for UI benefits or have exhausted all regular UI benefits.
Do I have to wait a week after I became unemployed before I can receive benefits under PUA?
No, the waiting week was temporarily suspended by Governor Lee’s Executive Order 15.
How long do benefits from PUA last?
PUA benefits may cover periods of unemployment up to 39 weeks.
Are benefits from PUA retroactive?
Yes, PUA benefits can be paid retroactively for periods of unemployment directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning on or after January 27, 2020.
I can work remotely. Am I eligible for PUA?
No. If you have the option to work remotely, you are not eligible for PUA benefits.
What is the maximum benefit I can receive from PUA?
Your benefit rate is based on your wages over the past 18 months. In Tennessee, the current maximum weekly benefit amount is $275. The minimum PUA benefit amount is 50% of the average weekly benefit amount. In Tennessee, for weeks January 27, 2020 - March 31, 2020, the minimum benefit amount is $120. For April 1, 2020 - June 30, 2020, the minimum benefit rate is $121. The maximum benefit amount is $275.
This Page Last Updated: November 3, 2020 at 3:02 PM