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Tennessee Working To Process Influx of Federal Unemployment Claims

State Employees Working Extra Hours to Assist Federal Employees Applying for Unemployment
Thursday, January 24, 2019 | 03:30pm

NASHVILLE– Employees with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) are working extra hours to process unemployment insurance claims for federal employees affected by the government shutdown.

As of Thursday, January 24, the TDLWD Unemployment Security Division's federal unit has received nearly 1,000 unemployment claims from federal employees. This is an increase of approximately 100 claims from the previous week.

Federal unit employees are currently working from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and several employees worked this past Saturday to process the influx of federal unemployment claims in a timely manner. Another Saturday schedule is planned this week. 

The unit is keeping detailed records of each federal unemployment claim to make the repayment process as smooth as possible when the shutdown ends and the employees receive back pay. Federal law requires they reimburse the state for any unemployment insurance benefits they receive during while furloughed. 

The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has strict requirements claimants must meet to receive benefits, one of which is an unemployed person must be willing and available to work. A federal employee currently not on the job meets this requirement because they are free to work.

Federal employees required to work without pay are not eligible for unemployment benefits because they are not available to work. 

If the state approves an application for benefits, unemployment claimants must certify online each week they are available to work. The state is deferring the requirement federal claimants conduct weekly online job searches in order to receive benefits because they are part of a temporary layoff.

It is important to keep in mind, the first week a person files for benefits is considered their waiting week and the claimant will not receive money. The earliest a claimant can expect payment is after two weeks of filing certifications. Since this is the peak season for unemployment claims, coupled with the federal shutdown; it could take up to 21 days to make a determination on an application for benefits.

The maximum weekly benefit in Tennessee is $275, which is subject to federal income taxes. 

Claimants can complete the application process for Tennessee unemployment insurance on the state's workforce development website, www.Jobs4TN.gov.

Anyone with questions can call TDLWD at 844-224-5818 or they can use the live chat function on tn.gov/workforce Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. CT.