How To File For Tennessee Unemployment

This page provides information on how to file for unemployment in Tennessee. If you lost your job or your hours were reduced at no fault of your own, you may qualify to receive unemployment benefits in your state. Review the information below, if you still have questions or issues about these benefits, then we suggest to contact your local Tennessee Unemployment Department for assistance. It is important that you file your new claim right away because Tennessee unemployment insurance are not retroactive.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a benefit program funded by Tennessee employers for workers who have lost their job by no fault of their own. Eligible claims may receive up to $275 per week in benefit payments. Qualified Tennesseans are only eligible for a maximum of 26 weeks of unemployment insurance in a year.

The Unemployment Insurance program provides benefits to workers who are unemployed who are able, available, and looking for work. You may file a claim for benefits the first day after becoming separated from employment or after your employer has significantly reduced your work hours. Information will be gathered from you as well as your separating employer and an agency determination will be based on whether you meet the eligibility requirements under state law.

Base Period

You must have earned a minimum of $780.01 in each of 2 quarters of a time frame called the Base Period. If you've earned sufficient wages during this time frame, the wages earned will then be used to calculate your weekly benefit amount and the number of weeks you may receive benefits. The Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the quarter in which your initial claim is filed. A calendar quarter is three months of either January - March, April - June, July - September or October - December.

You must be physically able to work at the time you file your claim for benefits. Special provisions are available for individuals who become ill or disabled after filing an initial claim.

You must document your work search activity each week by providing detailed contact information for at least three employers who you sought employment with. You may also fulfill this requirement by accessing services at an American Job Center. There are exceptions to this requirement for workers who:

  • Have a definite return to work date and will be returning to their employer in the near future
  • Accept work exclusively through a union hiring hall
  • Are enrolled in agency approved training
Unemployment disqualifications

The following examples are the most common reasons why applicants do not qualify or are denied unemployment benefits.

  • Voluntarily quit without good work-related cause
  • Discharged for work-related misconduct
  • Participation in a labor dispute other than a lockout that is in active progress
  • Failure to seek or accept suitable work

Information needed when applying for unemployment

Entering accurate information is crucial for us to process your application. If you stop in the middle of the online application process because you don't have the required information, this could cause unnecessary delays or lock you out of your claim. With this in mind, it's best to have all of your information ready before you start. Before you file, make sure you have the following:

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver's License Number
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Valid email address
  • Tennessee Unemployment Insurance claimants receive their benefits via the Tennessee Automated Payment (TAP) debit card or direct deposit. To receive benefits by direct deposit, you'll need to provide your bank routing number and account number
  • DD 214 Member 4 if you served in the military in the past 18 months

Your Employment Information:

  • Last 18 months of Employment
  • Last Day Worked
  • Reason for Separation (e.g., quit, fired, lack of work, laid off or job eliminated, etc.)

Employer Information:

  • Separating Employer's Name
  • Separating Employer's Address
  • Separating Employer's Telephone Number
  • Separating Employer's Fax Number (if known)

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

You can file your Tennessee unemployment claim using their online application.

  • After completing your unemployment application
  • Receive Letter #1 (Monetary Determination) immediately via internal message or email. (If you choose mail, within 2 weeks)
  • Start looking for work around town or on
  • Log in to certify each week (required weekly to remain eligible)
  • Record 3 work searches during your weekly certification. If you apply through Jobs4TN directly, those entries will auto-populate in your work searches when certifying. Also, keep in mind that all searches should be inputted online through your Jobs4TN account
  • Receive Debit Card in the mail (within two weeks)
  • Receive Letter #1 (Monetary Determination) immediately via internal message or email. (If you choose mail, within 2 weeks)
  • Receive Letter #2 of approval or denial (within three weeks)
Waiting Week

If your claim is approved, the first week you certified for will serve as a waiting week. This Agency does not pay you for this week unless you certify for, and are eligible for four consecutive weeks. On the fourth consecutive week, you will receive a double payment; it will be a combination of your waiting week and fourth week of benefits.

Start your job search immediately and certify the first Sunday after your claim was filed. Even if you haven't been approved or denied yet, go ahead and attempt to certify. Keep certifying weekly until you find employment.

Certify Weekly

Each week, they require that you check-in with them about your job hunt by answering a few questions. The questions are asking about the week before, so If you worked a few hours, you would be asked to enter the amount you earned between the last Sunday through Saturday.

Begin certifying online the week after you apply for benefits; they recommend doing so each Sunday. Also, do not wait for correspondence from our agency to take action. Delay can result in non-payment of skipped weeks.

Calculate last week's earnings

Before you certify, please calculate any earnings you have earned from last week. (Even if those earnings have not yet been paid to you yet) If this is your first week to certify, odds are, you've earned some amount of money from this past week.

Unemployment benefit limits

You may earn either $50 or 25 percent of your weekly benefit amount without reducing your weekly benefits (whichever amount is greater). For example, if you are receiving the maximum amount of $275 each week, you may earn 25 percent of $275, which is $68.75, and still receive the full $275. If you are receiving $175 a week, you may earn up to $50 without your weekly benefit being reduced. Keep in mind 25 percent of $175 is $43.75. If you earn more than your weekly benefit amount, your benefits will stop.

File an appeal

If you are denied unemployment benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. Keep in mind you are probably not eligible if you quit or were fired for disciplinary reasons. If you feel you were separated from your employer through no fault of your own yet denied benefits, you can file an appeal by logging into, selecting the determination you wish to appeal, and clicking File Appeal within the left navigation's Services for Individuals, then Unemployment Services. You must file the appeal within 15 calendar days of the date the agency denial decision was mailed.