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Claims Process

1. An individual who files for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits must meet specific eligibility  requirements before benefits can be paid. Individuals must:

  • Be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • File an initial claim and continue to file your weekly certification as directed.
  • Have been paid sufficient qualifying wages during the base period.
  • Be able to work and available for work. There are special provisions for individuals who become ill or disabled after filing an initial claim.
  • 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.
  • Their 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. The individual must file weekly certifications for four consecutive weeks, meet all eligibility requirements, and not exceed the weekly benefit amount in order to be paid for the waiting week.
  • Some claimants must have requalifying wages


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

A. 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

B. Discharged for misconduct in connection with work may include:

  • Excessive tardiness and/or absenteeism
  • Willful neglect of an employee’s 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

C. Failure to accept a referral from this Agency or to accept available, suitable work.
D. Participate in a labor dispute other than a lockout.
E. 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

NOTE: If the claimant is disqualified for any reason listed in section E, they may reopen their claim by calling the UI Claims Center (615-253-0800 or 1-877-813-0950) when the condition(s) causing their disqualification no longer exist.
F. If the claimant is disqualified for any of the reasons listed in Disqualifications section they 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



2. The individual files a claim for UI benefits by telephone or online.

A. To file claims online go to , Sunday – Friday, 8:00 a. m. – 12:00 a. m.

  • Once the claimant is registered, you can report a missing check, file a wage protest, file an appeal and   update your personal information.
  • If you don't have access to a computer, they are available at your local Tennessee Career Center.     
  • Only lack-of-work claims may be filed on the Internet. No Federal Claims will be accepted.

B. To file claims by phone call 615-253-0800 (Nashville area) or 1-877-813-0950 toll-free

  • Benefit Offices and the UI Claims Center are open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (CST), except holidays.
  • To file by phone, you will need to use a touch tone phone.
  • Wednesday-Friday are preferred call days due to lower call volume.
  • DO NOT USE cordless or cellular telephone equipment. They tend to disconnect.

*Most residents in Tennessee can file claims by telephone or online. However, if you live in Fayette, Tipton, Lauderdale or Shelby counties, only "lack of work" claims may be filed online. Otherwise, residents in these four counties must file in person at one of these locations.

C. The claims filing and benefit inquiry applications require that you create and enter a confidential Personal Identification Number (PIN).

  • The PIN protects you from having another person file your claim or obtain information about your claim.
  • YOU will select your PIN during your first call and are responsible for its use. Guard it as you would any confidential information. Be sure to select a PIN that will be easy for you to remember since you must call to certify for a week of benefits or get benefit information.
  • You have two chances to enter your PIN correctly. After that the PIN is locked. If you forget your PIN, or if you believe that someone else knows your PIN, you will need to enter an incorrect PIN three times in order for it to become locked. Then, phone the UI Claims Center (615-253-0800 or 1-877-813-0950) and request unlocking of your PIN. You also have the option to fax (615-253-0809 or 615-253-0813) your request to “Unlock PIN” to the UI Claims Center.
  • Never tell anyone your PIN! Remember, you are responsible and liable for your claim. Your PIN is your electronic signature for claiming and receiving unemployment benefits.



3. After the department makes a decision, we will mail a Letter of Determination informing the   individual whether they were approved or denied UI benefits.


4. Claimants who were denied UI benefits have the right to appeal the decision within 15 calendar days of date mailed.  

  • The individual can file the appeal by fax (615) 741-8933, via the Internet,, or mail it to:

Appeals Tribunal
Dept of Labor and Workforce Development
220 French Landing Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37243-1002


  • If state offices are closed on the final day, the next business day is the deadline. Late appeals will only be allowed if you can show, in a hearing that you had good cause.
  • The claimant’s Social Security Number must appear on all documents in the appeal.
  • The individual must certify weekly to remain eligible for benefits should filing an appeal result in approval.
  •  They may be represented by an attorney or assisted by any other representative they choose.
  • If the individual cannot afford an attorney, free or low cost legal assistance may be available through their local legal services organization or bar association.
  • We cannot provide an attorney for the employer or claimant.


5. Tennessee Unemployment Insurance claimants receive their benefits via the Tennessee Automated Payment (TAP) debit card or direct deposit.

  • Direct Deposit is an electronic method of payment of unemployment benefits directly to claimant’s checking or savings account.
  • Claimants can enroll for debit cards or direct deposit payments online at
  • Go to  and to “View/Update Payment Information” to select method of benefit payment.
  • Your TAP Card will arrive from Chase in a plain window envelope.
  • Do not throw away this envelope without removing its contents.
  • Once a TAP Card is issued, it is valid for three years.
  •  Keep your TAP Card until the expiration date for payments on potential future benefit claims.
  •  As soon as your TAP Card is received, sign it and call Chase Customer Service at 1-866-429-9835 (toll free) to activate your card and to select a TAP Card PIN.
  • Access for TAP Card information. For problems with your debit card or direct deposit, contact Chase Customer Service at 1-866- 429-9835.



6. The claimant is responsible for certifying their eligibility by the Telephone Information and Payment System (TIPS) or by Internet on a weekly basis as long as they’re unemployed.

A . The website address for internet certifications is .

  • Click on “Weekly Certification” shown in the menu.
  • If the claimant do not certify weekly, you may not be paid if your claim is later approved.
  • If the claimant is unable to successfully certify on the TIPS line or the Internet after you file your claim, you must contact the UI Claims Center at 1-877-813-0950.

B . Weekly Certification hours of availability on internet:

  • Sunday at 8:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. (CST) and Monday - Friday 7:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (CST)
  • If for some reason such as return to work, illness, vacation, etc., the individual is unable to file their weekly claim within the allotted time, you must phone the UI Claims Center at 1-877-813-0950.Until you are authorized to do so, you will not be allowed to file by telephone again.

C . Weekly Certification hours of availability by phone through TIPS:

  • Sunday - 8:00 A.M. until 12:00 midnight Monday through Friday - 7:00 A.M. until 12:00 midnight and available all holidays
  • Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are used only for filing weekly certifications.
  • Wednesday through Friday is available to access benefit payment information .

D . Filing Days Determined By Social Security Number
1a. Sunday

  • If the last digit of your Social Security Number is 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, your assigned day is Sunday. You may file your weekly certification between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 12:00 midnight by phone or 8:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. (CST) by internet.
  • Completed calls/internet certifications done before 6:30 p.m. (CST) may be processed same day except for Friday calls which are processed on Sunday night.
  • Certification calls made later in the day result in processing during the night of the next check run. Unemployment payments are processed Sunday through Thursday nights.

2b. Monday

  • If the last digit of your Social Security Number is 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9, your assigned calling day is Monday. You may file your weekly certification between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight by phone or 7:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (CST) by internet.
  •  Completed calls/internet certifications done before 6:30 P.M. Central Time may be processed same day except for Friday calls which are processed on Sunday night.
  • Certification calls made later in the day result in processing during the night of the next check run. Unemployment payments are processed Sunday through Thursday nights.

3c. Make-Up Days

  • If you do not file on your assigned day, you may file Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
  • See hours of availability shown in paragraph above. If you get behind in filing for more than two weeks you must contact the UI Claims Center by phone in order to claim benefits.



7. The first week the individual certifies for after filing an initial claim is their waiting week. This agency does not pay the claimant for this week unless they certify for, and are eligible for, four consecutive weeks.