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Frequently Asked Questions - Collecting Benefits

When can UI benefits be paid?

Benefits are paid after a claim has been filed and all eligibility requirements have been met. To be entitled to benefits an individual must be:

Monetarily eligible for benefits

Out of work due to no fault of his own
Physically able to work
Actively seeking work
Ready to accept work

How long will it take to receive my first benefit payment?

Normally unemployment claims are approved within 21 days, but recently up to 20% of claims filed are waiting 6 to 8 weeks for a decision. The status of your claim can be checked by going to You will need a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access your information. "Pending" status means an adjudicator has not yet reached a decision on your claim. Call center staff will not have additional information on the status of your claim.

How are payments made?

Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits are now issued by debit card or
direct deposit. The Tennessee Automated Payment (TAP) Card is a Visa® debit card provided by Chase Bank. TAP cards are mailed within 7 to 10 business days from the date your new claim is filed.  If you do not receive a TAP Card, contact Chase Customer Service at 1-866-429-9835. You may sign up for direct deposit by going to and clicking on the “View/Update Payment Type” button.

How much may I earn each week and still receive unemployment benefits?

You may earn the greater of $50 or 25 percent of your weekly benefit amount without reducing your weekly benefits. 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, as 25 percent of $175 is $43.75.

Are claimants required to pay taxes on UI benefits?


Yes, the Federal Tax Reform Act of 1986 provides for federal taxation on UI benefits. Claimants may voluntarily request that the TDLWD withhold 10 percent of weekly benefits for federal taxation of UI benefits. If taxes are not withheld while the claimant is drawing benefits then they will be responsible for paying the taxes when filing their tax return with the IRS.

How do I end my claim?


Discontinue weekly certification. If you do not file a weekly certification, the TDLWD assumes you have returned to work or no longer wish to claim benefits; it is not necessary to contact the TDLWD to stop your benefit payments.

How do wages in lieu of notice and severance pay affect my eligibility to receive unemployment insurance benefits?


A claimant is disqualified from receiving UI benefits if he is receiving or has received wages in lieu of notice or a severance package from an employer in an amount equivalent to what the employee would have received if he were working during that week.

How do vacation pay and holiday pay affect my eligibility to receive unemployment insurance benefits?


Vacation pay or holiday pay may be deducted from your benefits. It will depend on whether you have been given a definite date to return to work at the time you were placed on layoff status.

If you are not given a definite date to return to work, any vacation pay or holiday pay received when your job ends is not deducted from your weekly benefit amount.

If you are given a definite date to return to work that is within 21 days from the last day of the designated vacation period, any vacation or holiday pay for the period of the temporary layoff is deductible from your benefits.

Holiday pay should also be reported as earnings during the week in which the holiday appears if work is available with the same employer within 21 days from the end of the week in which the holiday occurs. Birthday pay is considered holiday pay.

Is a company bonus reportable as wages during a week of unemployment compensation?


Bonus payments are considered to be taxable, and the employer must report the bonus payment to the TDLWD and pay taxes accordingly.

Bonus payments are defined like other wage issues when a claimant is applying for or certifying for a week of unemployment compensation benefits. The primary consideration is when the claimant performed the service for which the bonus is being paid. Usually the service is performed while the claimant is at work. For example, profit sharing, safety, and/or attendance bonus payments are earned when the claimant is at work; therefore if the bonus is paid during an unemployment compensation week, it would not be disqualifying or deductible earnings.

Other considerations involve whether the bonus is paid as a replacement for vacation or holiday pay. If the bonus payment was designated to replace a vacation pay or holiday pay by the employer then the bonus payment would be treated according to departmental policy. The earnings would be deductible or disqualifying if the claimant has a return to work date within 21 days of the ending date of the vacation or holiday period.

Why is my income tax refund check being taken by TDLWD to repay an overpayment?


An unemployment claim was filed using your Social Security Number and it was determined that any benefits claimed were received in error, which resulted in an overpayment. The income tax refund is being taken to repay this overpayment. If you did not file a UI claim contact the TDLWD immediately. A fraudulent UI claim may have been filed using your identity information.

Effective July 1, 2012, legislation authorizes the TDLWD to off set any unemployment compensation debt due the department against any federal income tax refund due the claimant debtor.

What does an employer work search audit consist of?


Beginning September 1, 2012 claimants are to make and provide documentation of at least three work searches per week or access services at a TDLWD Career Center. As a result of this, TDLWD will conduct random verification audits of 1,000 claimants weekly to determine compliance with the work search requirement. Employers may be asked to provide verification of applications submitted by claimants.


Below is a link to the work search log:

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