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Frequently Asked Questions - Eligibility

What are the eligibility requirements?


To be entitled to benefits an individual must

  • Be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own and be approved for benefits.
  • Have worked in employment that is covered by unemployment insurance and have qualifying wages in the base period.
  • Be physically able to work at the time you file your first claim.
  • Be available to accept suitable work offered to you.

The first week you certify for after filing an initial and monetarily eligible approved claim is your waiting week. This agency does not pay you for this week unless you certify for, and are eligible for, the first four consecutive weeks of your approved claim.

Each week, report the gross amount of any money you have earned during that week, even if not paid until later.

What is the best way to get answers to my questions about a claim?

 

Individuals who are currently unemployed or working part-time can apply for UI benefits (you cannot apply for benefits in anticipation of your last day of work). Use one of the following methods:

File online at https://ui.tn.gov/Pages/ApplyForUnemployment.aspx. This is the fastest way to file a claim.

File by phone by calling 877- 813-0950

Note: The above options may also be used to reactivate an existing claim or to file for extended benefits. The Department will then determine if the individual is entitled to benefits.

How can an individual qualify for UI benefits?


The TDLWD will determine if the individual is entitled to benefits. 

How long do UI benefits last?

 

An initial claim is effective for one year. During the year, claimants can receive up to 26 weeks of full benefits. The number of weeks varies, based on total earnings during the base period (an individual's earnings during a 12-month period). During periods of high unemployment, additional benefits may be granted by Congress or the State Legislature.

How much do claimants receive?


The minimum weekly benefit amount in Tennessee is $30 and the maximum weekly benefit amount is $275. See http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/ui_benefitchart.pdf for an estimate of weekly benefit amount.

How are UI benefits calculated?


Benefits are calculated using an individual’s earnings during a specific 12 month period (this is called a base period).

What do I need to file a claim?

 

Individuals must be out of work (for any reason), or working less than full-time. In addition, you must provide the following information:

• Social Security Number
• Drivers License Number
• Address
• Telephone Number
• Separating Employer's Name
• Separating Employer's Address
• Separating Employer's Telephone Number
• Separating Employer's Fax Number (if known)
• Last Day Worked
• Reason for Separation
• Last 18 months of Employment

If the TDLWD needs to verify any of the information provided while filing a claim, additional forms will be sent by mail and additional information and/or documentation will be requested. After the claim is filed, the TDLWD will determine if you are eligible to receive benefits.

How do I know my claim is being processed?

 

After filing an initial claim by telephone or Internet, a Wage Determination would be mailed to you describing your weekly benefit amount and maximum benefit amount. Adjudication of a separation issue other than lack of work would result in an agency decision being mailed to you.

Can individuals who are not U.S. citizens collect UI benefits?

 

To collect UI benefits, non-citizen applicants must establish that they were in satisfactory immigration status and authorized to work in the United States, when earning the wages used to establish their claim.

In addition, the non-citizen applicants must provide proof that they remain in satisfactory immigration status and are authorized to work each week that benefits are claimed.

This isn't required each week. They only have to provide alien documentation when the initial claim is filed. If they are permanent resident, the documentation does not have to be provided again in that benefit year.

In some cases, non-citizen applicants will be asked to provide legible copies of their employment authorization documents.

I was fired from my job.  Will I be eligible?

 

When an individual files a claim for UI benefits, the Department documents the reason the individual is no longer working, and includes it in the time sensitive request for separation information, which is mailed to the last employer. The employer may also provide information about the reason the individual is no longer working when responding to the notice.


State law provides that an individual who is discharged or terminated may be eligible for UI benefits provided that specific criteria are met. The TDLWD will determine on a case-by-case basis whether the facts presented for the discharge or termination meet the criteria according to state law. The individual must also meet all other eligibility requirements before UI benefits are paid.

I just quit my job.  Will I be eligible?


State law provides that an individual who quits his job may be eligible for UI benefits provided there was “good cause” for leaving employment, and the individual made all reasonable attempts to keep his job (e.g., request of leave of absence or transfer).


The TDLWD staff will determine on a case-by-case basis, whether the facts presented for the quit are “good cause” according to state law. The individual must also meet all other eligibility requirements before UI benefits can be paid.

What if I am sick or injured, and cannot work?

 

An individual who files for UI benefits must be physically able to work, available for work, ready and willing to immediately accept work, and meet all other eligibility requirements before UI benefits can be paid.

I received an Agency Decision that I am not eligible for benefits.  What do I do now?

 

You have the right to file an appeal if you do not agree with all or part of the TDLWD’s decision. Review the Appeals section on this Web site for more information.

Why am I not eligible for benefits?  You took money out of my check while I was working.

 

UI benefits are financed solely from taxes paid by employers. No deductions are taken from an employee’s wages for UI benefits. You have the right to file an appeal if you believe you are entitled to benefits. Review the Appeals section on this Web site for more information.

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