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Updated : November 4th, 2022

Tennessee Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Insurance (UI) in Tennessee is provided to those who have lost their jobs for no fault of their own. The purpose of UI benefits is to help those who have lost their jobs for ‘no cause’ to gain some monetary stability during the time of transition from job to another.

The Department of Labor & Workforce Development (DLWD) in Tennessee oversees the functions of assessing the eligibility of the applicants for UI benefits. It also organizes training programs and provides other unemployment related services to job-seekers.

Eligibility To Apply For UI Benefits In Tennessee

In order to gain eligibility for unemployment benefits in Tennessee, the applicants must meet several requirements, which are largely grouped into three parts- monetary eligibility, job-separation requirement, and maintaining eligibility after qualification.

Monetary Eligibility

The DLWD has established some fixed monetary criteria to qualify for UI benefits. The list of the monetary criteria is that the applicants must have worked for a minimum period in the base period. In the base period, the applicants are expected to have earned a minimum amount of wages as prescribed by the DLWD.

It would be beneficial for the applicants to acquaint themselves with some basic topics to get a better understanding of the monetary eligibility requirements:

Calendar quarters: A calendar quarter is a three-month period in a base period. A year will consist of four calendar quarters – January to March, April to June, July to September, and October to December.

Base year: The state of Tennessee uses a standard base period to validate if the applicants qualify for UI benefits. A standard base period will be the first four of the last five calendar quarters before the quarter you filed for benefits.

Qualifying Wages: Qualifying wages are the wages that an applicant is expected to earn during the base period. To qualify for unemployment benefits in Tennessee, the applicants must have received a minimum of $780.01 in each of the 2 quarters.

Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA): Weekly benefit amount is the amount that if he or she qualifies will receive if he/she qualifies for UI benefits.

The UI benefits are determined by the wages earned by the applicant during the base period. The wages earned by the applicant during the base period, the higher will be the WBA that an applicant may receive. However, there is a maximum limit for WBA set by the state. Maximum weekly benefit amount that an applicant can earn in Tennessee is $275.

The applicants are allowed to earn $50 or 25 percent of their weekly benefit amount, whichever is higher, without risking a deduction from their weekly benefits. For instance, if the applicant has received a weekly benefit amount of $275, he or she may earn up to 25 percent of it, which is $68.75 and still receive the full $275 benefits at the end of the week.

If the applicant’s weekly earnings are beyond this prescribed limit, the excessive amount will be deducted from his or her WBA. If in the event, the applicant’s weekly earnings are more than the WBA itself, his or her benefits will be stopped by the DLWD.

Find out more about eligibility

Job Separation

Once the applicant establishes his or her monetary eligibility, the DLWD will then look into how the applicant separated from his or her previous employment. The DLWD has grouped the reasons for separation into three broad groups-

Lack of Work: If an applicant was laid off, or the position was abolished, or the business closed, or the plant shut down, his or her case would be considered as ‘lack of work’.

Quit: If an applicant voluntarily quits a suitable work without good cause attributable to the employer, his or her case will be considered a ‘quit’.

Discharged: If an applicant was dismissed for violation of company rules, neglected given job responsibilities, etc., his or her case will be considered as ‘discharged’.

If an applicant is found to have quit from the previous organization or was discharged for work-related misconduct, he or she will not qualify for UI benefits. It is mandatory that the applicant must not have lost his or her job due to any attributable fault of the applicants, which includes voluntary quitting from employment.

Eligibility Calculator

Eligibility requirements – overview

Maintaining Eligibility

Any applicant will be qualified for unemployment benefits in Tennessee once once he or she satisfies monetary requirements and job-separation requirements. However, it does not guarantee that the applicant will receive UI benefits during the benefit period unhindered.

If it is found that the applicant has not followed the prescribed guidelines or is found to have used unethical or illegal methods to receive UI benefits, the said benefits will immediately stand canceled.

Some of the reasons that could lead to the termination of unemployment benefits in Tennessee are:

  • The applicant was not physically able to work during his or her benefit period. There are special provisions for individuals who become ill or disabled after filing an initial claim. As a result, the claimant must bring any such cases to the notice of DLWD immediately. Failing to do so will lead to the cancelation of UI benefits
  • If the applicant fails to contact at least three prospective employers each week as a part of work search activity unless exempted by the DLWD
  • If it is discovered that the applicant has lied about his or her wages or previous employment details or regarding the work-search activity, the applicants UI benefits will be canceled
  • Rejecting to accept a suitable job offer without a good reason will also lead to the cancelation of UI benefits
  • The UI benefits will be canceled if it is found that the applicant has participated in a labor dispute other than a lockout that is in progress
  • The applicant was not available to work during his or her benefit period. If the applicant fails to show that he or she was available for work and was regularly in search of suitable employment through documenting work search activity each week, he or she will lose UI benefits. However, there are two exceptions to this rule-
    • The first exception is that the applicant was attending a DLWD-approved training program
    • The second exception is that the applicant was facing a temporary lay-off, and have a definite return-to-work date from his or her employer

Find out on job search requirements

How To Apply For UI Benefits In Tennessee

In order to apply for unemployment benefits in Tennessee, applicants must have the following documents:


The applicant must submit an online application for avail UI benefits in the state of Tennessee. To submit the application, the applicant must log on to start the application by entering personal details and previous employment information.

In the event, if the applicant is not equipped with the required devices to submit an online application, he or she can reach out to the DLWD on 844-224-5818 to find out about alternative methods to apply for benefits.

Mobile App:

The state of Tennessee also offers a unique service where it allows the applicant to apply for benefits through a mobile app. The Jobs4TN, from which the applicant can apply for UI benefits, can be downloaded on App Store or Google Play.

Learn how to claim weekly benefits

UI Benefit Amount

The applicant can use the Unemployment Insurance Benefits Calculator to find out the approximate UI benefits amount he or she is eligible to receive. This gives the applicant a close estimation of the benefits that he or she may be eligible to receive.

Benefits Calculator

Unemployment Benefits Calculator
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Unemployment Benefits Calculator
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Disclaimer: The estimates are good in faith and accuracy is not guaranteed. We are not liable for any loss and damages caused by using the tools on our website. This calculator is here to assist you in evaluating what you might obtain if you are entitled to receive benefits. We make no promises that the sum you receive will be equal to what the calculator illustrates.

Know more about the Benefits Calculator

Things To Know After Filing An Application

There are various rules and regulations that one needs to be aware of to receive UI benefits unhindered every week. The DLWD also provides various training opportunities and other job-seeking opportunities in its portal.

Hence, to be aware of the regulations as well as the opportunities, the claimant must be informed about some important information post filing for application to have a fruitful benefit period.

Overpayments and Fraud

An overpayment occurs when the claimants draw more benefits from the DLWD than what they are eligible to receive. If it is found that the claimant has received an overpayment from the DLWD in your benefit period, the department will mail a Notice of Overpayment to the claimant, addressing the occurrence of an overpayment.

The notice will contain information on how the overpayment occurred, the amount of overpayment received, and the penalties that the claimant may have to pay. It will also contain the right to appeal against the decision of the department.

The DLWD has recognized some of the reasons for the occurrence of the overpayment. The following reasons should help to realize the common pitfalls and steer away from unethical practices-

Improper Wage Reporting: At the time of a claimant’s weekly certification, a question is asked on how much money was earned by the claimant in the previous week. If the gross amount of wages are not entered (even if they have not yet been paid) or are entered incorrectly, this could result in an overpayment.

Failure to Report your “Return to Work” dates: Applicants must make sure that any new employment accepted since the previous claim must be mentioned during certification.

Every week, during the process of certification for the respective week’s UI benefits, the following question will be asked – “Have you taken a job and were laid off, quit or discharged since your last claim was filed?”

If the applicant was employed for just one day, he or she will technically be considered re-employed. If the applicant quit the job just the following day, the applicant may not be eligible for Georgia unemployment benefits since he or she quit that job.

An Employer’s Appeal: If the employer contests the decision of providing the UI benefits and wins the appeal, all the benefits you received until this point will be considered an overpayment. Since the appeals process may take several weeks, the benefits the applicant was paid would need to be returned to the UI Recovery Unit.

The above-mentioned reasons can take place with or without the applicant’s knowledge, but it would still be considered an overpayment. The claimant’s intention, however, will decide the category of the overpayment, which can be either a non-fraud overpayment or fraud overpayment.

Non-fraud overpayment: If the applicant receives an excessive amount for reasons that he or she is not directly responsible or due to mistakes committed unintentionally, it will be considered as a non-fraud overpayment.

In this case, the applicant is liable to repay the entire overpayment received. Only cases of hardship may be considered by DLWD for a waive-off.

Fraud overpayment: This occurs when the applicant intentionally provides false information or withhold important information to receive UI benefits. Such an act will be considered as a very serious offense and can result in a criminal prosecution against the claimant.

In the case of fraud overpayment, the applicant will not only be asked to repay the excessive amount received, but will also have to pay a penalty to the DLWD.

Benefits Extension

The state of Tennessee provides benefits extension only when the unemployment rate is very high or there is an economic crisis. Claimants are advised to contact the DLWD to find out more on the reemployment programs before the end of the benefit period.

Job Training Assistance

The DLWD provides a host of opportunities to job-seekers in the form of financial aid, grants and various training programs for those who are seeking to improve their skills.

American Job Center Scholarships: These scholarships are given to those looking to go back to school to complete a program or get re-trained in a new skill. The training program must be for a job listed on the targeted occupations list for Tennessee.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA): The TAA program is designed to help those who have lost their jobs or whose working hours are reduced as a result of increased imports. The program offers a variety of benefits and services to trade-affected individuals. The agenda of the program is to help these individuals find suitable job opportunities at the earliest.

SNAP Employment & Training: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training are designed to help the SNAP participants obtain job readiness skills.

The DLWD provides various other programs as per the requirements of the job-seekers. Contact the department on 844-224-5818 if you have any specific needs in mind that need more clarification.

Know more job training opportunities in TN

Tennessee Office Locations and Phone Numbers

The applicants may reach out to the department by placing a call to get their doubts cleared:

TN Unemployment Office Phone Numbers

DLWD 844-224-5818
Overpayments repayment 844-817-0619
Report fraud (615) 206-3116
Report suspected UI fraud (615) 741-2346
To obtain a release form (615) 741-3170
Equal Opportunity Officers (EOOs) (615) 253-1331
Re-Employment Services (844) 224-5818
Request for 1099G form 615-442-7009

You may also visit your nearest unemployment office if your questions persist. Click here to locate the nearest unemployment office to your location.

Frequently Asked Question

Q. How long does it take for my claim to be processed?
It must generally take around 21 days to process individual unemployment claims. A normally followed schedule is provided below to show what happens from the time UI benefits is filed, up until the time the decision is made.
Days 1 - 7: As you file a claim, a letter will be mailed to your previous employer to verify the cause of separation. As per the law, a response will be due in seven business days.
Days 8 - 10: If the DLWD receives a response from the previous employer, the applicant will be summoned to collect more information, if needed. If the employer's letter is not received, the law requires two additional business days for a response.
Days 11 - 13: All information is gathered and sent to Adjudication for a decision.
Days 14 - 21: An impartial decision based on the evidence as it pertains to the law. For all initial claims, the first week you certify after filing is referred to as a "waiting week." You are not paid for this week unless you certify and are eligible for 4 consecutive weeks. In the meantime, complete your weekly certification on Jobs4TN.
Q. What is the Treasury Offset Program?

Claimants who have received an overpayment in unemployment compensation are obligated to repay the excessive amount with the applicable penalty to DLWD. The Agency is federally mandated to submit unpaid balances to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) for payment. Debt submitted through TOP can be offset by the debtor's federal tax refund or other payments from the federal government.

Q. Why and how would I need to file an appeal?

  • An appeal can be filed if you have received a denial letter and disagree with agency's decision regarding your unemployment compensation claim.
  • Appeals must be filed within 15 days of the mail date on the letter.
  • Late appeals will only be allowed if you can show, in a hearing that you had good cause.

There are 2 ways an appeal can be filed:
  • You can file the appeal online at ; or
  • You can fax or mail the Appeal in writing to
    Appeals Tribunal, Department of Labor and Workforce Development
    220 French Landing Drive
    Nashville, TN 37243
    Fax: (615) 741-8933

Q. What if I don't have access to a computer?
Filing an unemployment claim and the required weekly certifications will soon be managed through your account. If you do not have constant access to a computer, we recommend any of the following alternatives.
Mobile App
You can download the Jobs4TN app to apply and certify from your mobile device. The links for download is given under 'How to Apply For UI Benefits in Tennessee'.
American Job Center
Visit the resource room at an American Job Center near you. The computers are equipped with Internet access and staff who can direct you to to begin filing a claim.
Q. How do I request a Form 1099G for prior years?

Form 1099Gs for previous years are also available by sending a written request, including name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and phone number, to:

Special Services Unit
Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development
220 French Landing Drive
Nashville, TN 37243-1002
Fax 615-253-4649

or request a copy by phoning Special Services at:


Q. How do I report this unemployment information on my income taxes?
Refer to the instructions on Federal Form 1040. In addition, IRS Publication 525 provides instruction on how to report the repayments of unemployment compensation benefit overpayments. For questions about potential tax liability or how to report tax information, please contact an IRS representative at 1-800-829-1040.
Q. What happens after I file for Unemployment?
After applying for Unemployment, you will receive a written notice or email from the department stating your application has been received. Your notification preference (U.S. Postal versus electronically) is set during the unemployment application process.

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