How to Apply for Unemployment in Tennessee

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on April 3, 2020

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Lost your job during the COVID-19 outbreak? Here's what you need to know about filing for unemployment benefits in Tennessee.

Lost your job during the COVID-19 outbreak? Here's what you need to know about filing for unemployment benefits in Tennessee.

Millions of Americans have already lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 crisis, and with many businesses being forced to shut down, employers are struggling to keep handing out paychecks. If your income has taken a dive, or has gone away completely, you may be entitled to unemployment benefits. Here's what you need to know about applying in Tennessee.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

You can file for unemployment benefits in Tennessee if you:

  • Lost your job through no fault of your own and were not fired for cause; or
  • Are laid off temporarily because your employer has been forced to close

In addition, you must have made enough in qualifying wages to file a claim. You'll need to have earned at least $780.01 in two separate quarters during the base period for your claim. If you're filing a claim in March 2020, your base period is October 2018 through September 2019. If you’re filing in April, the period would be January through December 2019.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

You can file for unemployment benefits online through Tennessee's Department of Labor and Workforce Development. You'll need to provide some personal information, including your:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver's license number
  • Address, phone number, and email address
  • Form DD-214 if you served in the U.S. military over the past 18 months
  • Bank account details if you wish to sign up for direct deposit; otherwise your benefits will be available to you in debit card form

You'll also need to provide information about your recent employment history, including:

  • The employers you worked for over the past 18 months
  • The last day you worked
  • The reason you separated from your last employer

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits?

Your weekly unemployment benefit is calculated by taking your average wages from the two highest quarters during your base period and plugging that number into a special benefits table. The minimum weekly benefit you can collect is $30, and the maximum you can collect is $275. 

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?

You can collect unemployment benefits in Tennessee for up to 26 weeks. However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

If you're denied unemployment benefits, you can file an appeal online. You must do so within 15 calendar days of the date your denial decision is mailed to you.

Don't wait to file for benefits

If you've lost your job, you'll need money to pay your bills, and although you can tap your emergency fund at a time like this, you may not have enough cash in savings to cover all of your pressing expenses. The sooner you submit your claim for unemployment benefits, the sooner that money might hit your account, thereby sparing you some financial stress during an otherwise trying time. 

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