Tennessee Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Unemployment benefits can help you make ends meet until you find a new job. Find out if you're likely to qualify for unemployment benefits in Tennessee.

If your employer recently laid you off or ceased operations, you may be entitled to unemployment benefits in Tennessee. These benefits provide temporary financial support to people who meet the state's eligibility criteria. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development uses employer taxes to fund the program. 

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Tennessee?

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development requires applicants to fulfill various eligibility criteria before receiving benefits. These criteria include minimum earnings, reasons for unemployment and meeting ongoing requirements to maintain your eligibility.

Reasons for Unemployment

The Tennessee unemployment benefits program is for people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. You can apply if you lose your job or your company cuts your usual working hours. The department may contact your last employer to verify the reasons for job separation. You may not qualify if:

  • You chose to leave without a sound, work-related reason
  • Your employer dismissed you for workplace misconduct
  • You're involved in a labor dispute, excluding an active and current lockout

Qualifying Wages

The state uses your earning history to establish your right to Tennessee unemployment benefits. You must demonstrate sufficient qualifying wages over the base period, which is the earliest four of the previous five completed calendar quarters.

To qualify, you must have wages of at least $780.01 in two separate quarters. Furthermore, your earnings during the quarter when you earned the second-highest amount must be more than $900, or six times your weekly benefit amount (WBA).

Ability and Availability to Work

You can only receive benefits if you're physically and mentally capable of working throughout your claim. However, the state may make exceptions if you become sick or disabled after submitting your initial application. 

Claimants must make every effort to get a new job while receiving Tennessee unemployment benefits. Keep details of any employers you contact to try to secure employment, and submit at least three new contacts per week when requesting payment. Engaging in re-employment activities through your local American Job Center also counts. The department may exempt you from searching for work if:

  • You have a definite and imminent date to resume work with your previous employer 
  • You're a member in good standing with a union hiring hall
  • You're enrolled in approved training

How Do You Apply for Unemployment Benefits in Tennessee?

You should apply for Tennessee unemployment benefits through the JOBS4TN Reemployment Assistance portal. Enter your Social Security number to determine if you already have a Reemployment Assistance account. If you don't, complete the registration process to open a new account. Otherwise, use your existing credentials to log in and begin your application.  

You should file a weekly claim through your online Reemployment Assistance account to receive your benefits payments. Don't forget to file while waiting for a decision on your initial application, or you may not receive your full entitlement. You'll need to report your work search activities and any earnings received during the week. You can also use the resources on JOBS4TN to search for re-employment opportunities with local companies. 

After applying, you'll receive two determination letters. The first explains your monetary determination, with details of how much you'll get if the department approves your claim. The monetary determination doesn't indicate whether you're eligible for benefits; the second letter states whether your claim was successful. 

How Much Do You Get From Tennessee Unemployment?

You can receive Tennessee unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, although some people will qualify for fewer weeks, depending on their base period earnings. The highest available weekly benefit amount is $275. You'll receive 1/26 of your wages from your highest-paid quarter per week, rounded down to the next whole dollar.

You can receive your benefits via direct deposit or a Way2Go card. The Way2Go card is a prepaid MasterCard debit card. You can change how you receive your payments by modifying your preferences on your JOBS4TN account.

What Happens if Unemployment Claims in Tennessee Are Denied?

You can appeal through your JOBS4TN account if your determination letter says you're ineligible for unemployment benefits and you disagree. You should file your appeal no later than 15 days after the mailing date on your decision document. 

You'll receive a Notice of Hearing letter from the Appeals Tribunal for a telephone or in-person review of your application. Inform the tribunal as soon as possible if you need to reschedule. The tribunal may offer you an alternative date if you can't attend for a compelling reason, such as a recent bereavement. 

You should provide any evidence that supports your position at least 48 hours before your scheduled hearing. You have the right to bring witnesses to your appeal hearing, but the hearing officer will only consider evidence from witnesses with first-hand knowledge of your job separation. 

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can appeal the decision with the Office of Administrative Review (OAR) within 15 days of the Appeals Tribunal's decision. Send your appeal in writing to:

Office of Administrative Review, Legal Division
Dept of Labor and Workforce Development
220 French Landing Drive
Nashville, TN 37243-1002

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