Tennessee Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

Below we provide the unemployment eligibility requirements in Tennessee. If you have additional information about applying for Tennessee unemployment benefits then contact the Tennessee unemployment office.

  • You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • You must have been paid sufficient qualifying wages during the base period.
  • You must file an initial claim and continue to file your weekly certification as directed.
  • You must be able to work and available for work. There are special provisions for individuals who become ill or disabled after filing an initial claim.
  • You must make a reasonable effort to secure work unless you are returning to your employer in the near future, normally get work through a union, or are enrolled in approved training.
  • Your first week AFTER FILING an initial claim that is approved is a waiting week, provided that any gross earnings reported do not exceed the weekly benefit amount. You must file weekly certifications for four consecutive weeks, meet all eligibility requirements, and not have earnings that equal or exceed the weekly benefit amount in order to be paid for the waiting week.
  • Some claimants must have re-qualifying wages; your UI Claims Center representative will explain this to you if necessary.

Although you may have enough wages to establish a valid claim, you may still be disqualified from receiving benefits. Some of the conditions are listed below.

Voluntarily quitting without good cause connected with work may include

  • Moving to another locality
  • Lack of transportation
  • Lack of a babysitter
  • Quitting to attend school or to care for a friend or relative
  • Unable to get along with co-worker(s)
  • Routine change in working hours

Discharged for misconduct in connection with work may include

  • Excessive tardiness and/or absenteeism
  • Willful neglect of an employee’duties
  • Insubordination
  • Intentional violation of company rules
  • Willful destruction of company property
  • Theft
  • Disloyalty (disclosure of confidential information or accepting bribes)
  • Embezzlement
  • Inflicting bodily harm on a fellow employee or employer
  • Failure to accept a referral from this Agency or to accept available, suitable work.

NOTE: If you are disqualified for any of the above reasons listed you must do the following to establish eligibility.

  • Return to work for an employer who pays unemployment insurance premiums (covered employment)
  • Earn an amount specified by law (10 x your weekly benefit amount)
  • Be separated for reasons that are not disqualifying
  • Participate in a labor dispute other than a lockout.

There are other reasons which would result in disqualification. Some are

  • Receiving deductible retirement equal to or in excess of your weekly benefit amount
  • Receiving compensation for temporary partial disability
  • Earnings equal to or more than your weekly benefit amount
  • Being out-of-town and not available for work during your usual work week
  • Fraud in connection with your claim
  • Seeking or receiving unemployment benefits from another state or from a federal unemployment claim and, at the same time, drawing unemployment benefits from Tennessee
  • Receiving vacation or holiday pay equal to or greater than your weekly benefit amount when you are expected to return to work with the same employer within 21 days of the end of the holiday/vacation period
  • Failure to make a reasonable effort to find work
  • Certain types of self-employment involving commission sales

To Find Out If You Qualify, GO HERE:  http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/Claimants/appintro.html

How To File For Tennessee Unemployment Benefits?

To File Online GO HERE:  http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/Claimants/appintro.html

The internet claims system is designed to give you a simple and convenient method of filing a lack of work, quit, or discharge claim. If any of the following apply, you will need to telephone the U.I.Claims Center to file your claim. If you live in the Nashville calling area, please call 253-0800; otherwise please call toll-free 1-877-813-0950:

  • You did not work in Tennessee in the last 18 months
  • You worked in another state or worked for a Tennessee employer with an out-of-state payroll address
  • You have had Federal civilian employment in the last 18 months
  • You have had active duty in the military in the last 18 months
  • You are on leave of absence or suspension from your last employer

To file your claim, you must:

  • Answer questions required about your work history and separation information
  • Provide information about your identification
  • Provide information on availability for seeking work
  • Complete the application, agree to the Certification Statement, and submit.


You must access and read the Guide for Receiving U.I. Benefits. This guide fully explains your rights and responsibilities when filing for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits. You will not receive a check for unemployment insurance benefits if you do not read and follow this information. Failure to read and follow the instructions will result in a delay or loss of benefits.

At the end of the filing process, you will receive a confirmation page for you to print and keep for your records. You will also receive a confirmation email if you provided your email address. Claims are effective the date received by our Agency. You should receive a Wage Transcript and Initial Determination by mail within 5 working days. Do not contact the Agency for 12 working days after filing. If you do not receive anything in the mail after 12 days, please call the U.I. Claims Center at 253-0800 if you live in the Nashville calling area, or call toll free 1-877-813-0950 if outside of the Nashville calling area.


Sunday from 8 a.m. until 12 midnight Central Time

Monday through Friday 7 a.m. until midnight Central Time

Once you have submitted your claim, you will be able to file your weekly certification beginning on the first Sunday after your claim is filed. Each Sunday you will need to access the Weekly Certification Process at http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/labor. Click on "Weekly Certification" in the menu, and follow the prompts. If your certification is successful, you will receive a confirmation message. Selecting "View Benefits/Update Information" from the main menu will allow you to access information about your claim.

The second is here:


Beginning Thursday, January 29, Tennessee workers will have another means for filing initial claims for unemployment insurance. This new service is a temporary measure to help relieve the state's overloaded telephone network for processing claims.

During the meetings claimants will complete their required forms.  They will be prepared to certify their eligibility on a weekly basis, either online or by phone, which is required as long as they are receiving unemployment benefits.  Staff will then approve and process the claims onsite.

In order to file during the mass meetings, the claimant must have been laid off from his job due to lack of work and must have a separation notice or letter from his employer stating that the separation was because of lack of work or reduction in force (sometimes written as furloughed).  Tennessee employers are urged to provide each of their employees a separation notice stating separation due to lack of work.  The separation notice form can be found at www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd/Employers/forms/LB-0489.pdf.
Requirements to participate in the mass claims session:

In order to participate in a mass claims session, there are certain requirements:

  • Must have been separated for lack of work or reduction in force
  • Must have worked only in Tennessee for the last 18 months
  • Separation notice or letter from employer stating lack of work as reason for layoff
  • Two IDs, driver's license or state photo ID card and another, such as birth certificate or utility bill in your name
  • Social Security Number
  • Address and telephone number
  • Separating employer's name, address and telephone number
  • Last day worked and places of employment for last 18 months

Contact Information

Website: http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/Claimants/appintro.html

Phone Number: (615) 253-0800 or (877) 813-0950