Tennessee Unemployment Benefit Questions

How much does the State of Tennessee pay as unemployment benefits?

If you begin collecting Tennessee unemployment benefits, one of the first questions you will have is how much you will receive in payments from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD). The goal is to provide claimants with enough money to take care of basic needs until they can find a new job. However, how much you actually receive depends on how much you earned most recently and how long you are eligible.

This maximum is determined by calculating the average salary for employees in the state and dividing it by half. As of now, the maximum weekly benefit amount you can receive from Tennessee unemployment benefits is $275 per week.

If I received severance pay, will I still be able to collect UI?

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is in charge of providing unemployment compensation to Tennesseans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. If candidates for unemployment insurance benefits meet certain criteria, they may collect unemployment compensation even if they are receiving severance pay from their previous employer.

If you are working while collecting unemployment benefits, you must report your wages each week as you are accruing them, not when you receive the paycheck for that work. Additionally, you must repay any overpayment of benefits to your local unemployment office. All unemployment benefits must be reported as taxable income on your federal tax return.

If I exhaust my regular benefits, how can I file for the first Federal extension that is available?

Once you have exhausted your entitlement to your regular UI claim, you may be eligible to file the first extension. The TDLWD (Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development) will automatically file the first extension and send you notification. No action is required on your part.

When the first federal extension is filed, a notice and claim forms will be sent to eligible claimants. Claimants should continue certifying by phone or Internet.

  1. I have recently became unemployed through my job being eliminated (no fault of my own) and with an offer of severance package that required stipulations and so many days to sign which I have not accepted yet. Does this disqualify me from unemployment for this offer that I have not accepted due to needing the legal portion explained? Is there a certain date I have to sign for unemployment after termination. I am not sure to mark yes or no since the severance is not signed.

    • Hi, Tina – accepting severance pay will not disqualify you for unemployment benefits, though it will adjust the amount of UI benefits you receive. When you complete your application for benefits, you’ll be asked to report the amount of severance you’ll receive, and that amount will be deducted from your benefits payments. While you’re not under a specific deadline to file your claim, keep in mind that it may take several weeks to process, so you should move forward as quickly as possible so that you can begin receiving benefits.

  2. I worked as a W-2 Employee on a project under contract for 6 months. I started work the day after Labor Day, 09/06/2022 and was laid off on 02/24/2023. I filed for unemployment in Tennessee the next day which was Saturday 02/25/2023. While working I made $680 weekly and my 2022 W-2 shows I earned $10,608 between 09/06/2022 and 12/31/2022, and was thinking I would qualify for the maximum amount of weekly benefits being $275. However, I was told that due to the way Tennessee calculates the base period that I will only get $70 a week because I made only $1,900 during those 4 qualifying base period quarters which amounts to the month of September only. There’s something grossly wrong with this picture and I can’t survive on $70 a week. Is there anything I can do to have the last quarter of 2022 count toward my base period or am I totally screwed? I was thinking that maybe I could withdraw the claim and refile in April or that perhaps the TN Dept of Labor and Workforce Development would recalculate my base period automatically in April knowing that I made much, much more money during that final calendar quarter. However, I was told that I cannot withdraw and re-file in April, and if I do the base period for my claim will remain the same. Please someone let me know what can be done about this.

    • Hi, Mike – you’ll need to contact the Tennessee unemployment office directly in order to get answers to your questions. They will have access to your claim and can provide counsel as to how your benefit amount was calculated. You can use the Tennessee Department of Labor’s direct submission form to submit your question: https://www.tn.gov/workforce/contact/directory.html.

  3. If my husband relocates to Tennessee from California, will I be able to get unemployment under the “trailing spouse provision?”

    • Dear Kim,

      While CA has a trailing spouse provision, TN does not. Some states without a trailing spouse provision have enacted similar legislation to allow a spouse to collect unemployment if they are a trailing military spouse–but guess what–TN isn’t one.

      You may be able to file for benefits in CA, however, with “good cause,” considering you had to relocate for your marriage. Please consult CA unemployment benefits, which are online at:




  4. I started work full-time on 11/2/19 and our company has laid off everyone due to the Corona Virus on 3/18/20. Can anyone tell me if I would qualify for unemployment? From my understanding, you have to work 6 months or longer in order to qualify or make a certain amount within your base pay within TN. I have 3 kids at home and just bought a house so I am worried to death that I will not qualify.

  5. I was discharged by my employer due to no fault of my own. My employer offered a severance package which consisted of 3 months of pay, paid in the company’s normal payroll cycle. The conditions of my receiving the severance required that I not sue the company for age discrimination or under any other acts, that I won’t make statements critical of the company, and I can’t accept employment at a competitor during the 3 month severance period. My unemployment claim was approved but my benefits were denied until the severance expires. I viewed this as a negotiated settlement rather than a severance because of the stipulations connected to receiving the money. The company does not have a severance policy. Do I have grounds for an appeal?

      • An attorney advised me that Tennessee changed the unemployment laws in 2012. Benefits are not available until the severance expires. If the employer paid the severance in one lump sum, benefits would be available. However, since my employer is spreading the severance out over 3 months, benefits aren’t available until the payout is complete. It is irrelevant if any stipulations are attached to the severance.

        • I appealed the denial of unemployment benefits due to my severance. As part of my appeal I even included a court decision from Minnesota that permitted unemployment benefits in cases where the severance agreement includes language not allowing the employee to sue. Unfortunately the judge did not agree with my argument, but he did grant me unemployment benefits during the weeks in which I didn’t receive the severance payment. My severance was paid bi-weekly, so I received unemployment in the off-weeks.

          I agree that this is subject to interpretation. I am also upset that I received bad legal advice. For anyone in this situation, I recommend filing an appeal. There is no cost (unless you want a lawyer, which in my case would have hurt me), and there may be at least a partial favorable judgement.

        • It gets more convoluted than that. Lump sum didn’t make me eligible any more quickly. The state says I’m still ineligible for the equivalent period. But here’s the good part: a former co worker successfully appealed. The judge said that because his agreement included stipulations around disparaging remarks and an agreement not to sue, that somehow makes it different. But others of us were told it doesn’t matter. This process is subject to human interpretation, which makes no sense to me.

    • Beverly,

      Please note UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose their employment due to involuntary reasons.

    • Keith,

      Part-time workers do not generally qualify since employers’ don’t remit Unemployment Taxes into the system. Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for clarification.

  6. I just finished certifying for the fourth time and found out I should be expecting a payment this week. Will I be paid for the previous three weeks in my first check or just one week?

  7. I have a service animal that travels with me while im at work a 3 wks ago i was sent home and told that i cannot return to work with the service animal until i provide the proper medical documentation, Ive submitted that information 2 wks ago and requested a employment accomodation. I call everyday asking if im cleared to return to work or if my job is still available to me and they keep saying yes and someone will call me ..well its been 3 wks can i file for partial unemployment until they say i can return to work?

    • Since you’re technically still employed, I am not sure if you can draw benefits during this period. Please call the Unemployment Office.

  8. I have accepted a voluntary severance due to a workforce reduction plan at my company. I will receive a lump sum severance and then will be receiving a small pension starting the next month. Will I be able to collect unemployment? Thanks.

  9. If I am drawing unemployment compensation and I withdraw from my retirement fund will this effect my unemployment comp payment amount?

  10. If I came back to a company and worked 5 months after taking a year off for a family emergency, previous working for the company for 18 years, and the company closes, can I get unemployment?

    • Kathy,

      You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  11. If i have retirement benefits from another state and i am unemployed from a job in tennessee, will i be able to draw unemployment in tennessee and collect retirement benefits from florida.

  12. If I am involuntary separated from my company due to relocation and I receive a lump sum severance, am I eligible to receive unemployment.

      • I received a lump sum severance and was denied UI for that reason. A co worker in the same situation was awarded benefits. I find the entire system in TN fraudulent and subjective, based on the whims of individuals in the DOL.

        • Wesley,

          If you think you were denied wrongfully, please consider filing for an “Appeal”. Severance should not really hinder.

  13. I was laid off due to outsourcing and received 8 weeks severance pay. I filed for unemployment and was denied. I appealed and received a call from the state office telling me that I would be eligible after the 8 weeks were up. I continued certifying and have already received my first check. Now I have received a notice that I am scheduled for a telephone hearing. Is this because I appealed and this is just procedural?

    • Ideally, you can only apply and receive after the end of Severance Pay. I think the payment is an error. Please call the Claims Center to report and take further instructions.

  14. Martin :
    I’m very much aware of my responsibility regarding filing for my unemployment. You didn’t answer my question, I asked why it was taking so long? Its very difficult when you’ve worked all your life and never used the services from unemployment and now that I need to utilize it, it’s taking a very long time. It’s supposed to help people get through the rough patch until they can find other employment. And as far as your comment about looking on the website to find answers, there’s nothing answered on the site.

    • Terrie,

      I can understand your frustration. Unfortunately, we can’t do much since this is a private forum. We do not hold any association with the Labor Department in your state and hence do not know the reason for the delay.

  15. I filed for my unemployment on 10/02/16, and still have not received any money. I have certified for three weeks. It’s so frustrating, I have to pay my bills, just don’t know why it’s taking so long.. Can someone please answer me regarding this. Thank you

    • Please note that only you’re responsible for ensuring monies come in as expected. Please chase the claims center on the phone numbers provided at regular intervals for an update.

  16. I was hired on at a restaurant part time, but I have not had any hours scheduled since Sept 1st. When I call to ask about hours, I am told to call back later, everytime. I have called back nearly every day. Am I entitled to unemployment or some kind of compensation? They say I am on their payroll still. 9 1/2 hours over the course of 2 1/2 weeks doesn’t cut it when I was told that I would get 18 to 20 hours per week.

  17. I filed my unemployment claim on 6-12-16 and have just made it through a chat thing on the computer last week with a woman asking me to give her several bits of information and trying to gather that information just a few seconds later she stated that she couldn’t hold the line when I asked her to give me a second to get my letter with my information on it. Well I did make it within the split second that I was allowed after being on line for a very long time waiting to talk to someone. She told me that I would receive notification in the mail of the decision. Next a woman called my phone number with a very rude voice with the total call being 7 seconds long saying her name and it was about my UI claim and to call her back at my convenience but she left no information as a phone number. I listened to my voicemail and got envelope information on the call and called that number and its a fax machine number. Getting unemployment is very very complicated and the people that you do get to talk to are very rude and act as if your unemployment was coming out if their paychecks. I’m only qualified to get two weeks worth but our utilities are getting disconnected and we have no groceries. Please help me and my family

    • Well, I can understand your concern. It can get testing at times. All we can say is, keep chasing at regular intervals to get an update.

      You may even want to consider the option of visiting the nearest Unemployment Office for an update.

  18. My last day of work was 1/31/16 due to plant shut down & no fault of mine. I received 12 weeks of full pay as severance pay because of my time with the company which just ended 4/22/16. Do I show my separation date as the day my severance ended or as the last day I worked?

    • Please call the claims center/customer service of the labor dept. in your state for further information in this regard.

      We do not have a definite answer in this regard.

    • If the claim is your first one, it will take about 7-10 days. Otherwise, it will credit as per the timelines.

  19. I received unemployment benefits for the beginning of 2015……I am awaiting my tax form in order to file my taxes. But have not received it yet. Is there some way I can get it online?

    • Please visit the official website of the Labor Department in your state.

      Nearly all states let you download 1099-G online.

  20. I only worked 20 hours the week of Thanksgiving. My employer claims to have filed unemployment for me. It has been nearly a month and still nothing. Is there a way to find out if it was really filed? I have been with that company for 2 years and made well under $275 for that week. My wait period was during out 4th of July shutdown. Please help!

  21. ruby emailed me and said she tried to contact me and sent a message but I did not receive one. m question is why I did not receive the back psy benefits after my appeal went through?

  22. If I have certified for 3 weeks and my benefits was approved after the 3 time certifying will I still receive payments for those weeks?

  23. I was recently working full time with my current employer but they have dropped me to under 20 hours a week. Mind you I am a minimum wage employee that makes only 7.50 an hour and after taxes and child support(I pay $239.16 a month which is directed garnished from my pay) that leaves me with nowhere near enough to be able to bills, rent and other personal needs, basically to support myself in general. Would I be eligible for unemployment or partial employment benefits? Because of my employer doing this I am in a huge bind and if I am not eligible for unemployment or partial employment benefits I may end up HOMELESS within the next few weeks.

    • We can understand your plight.

      You can be eligible for Unemployment Compensation towards any reduction in working hours. Please call the labor authorities in your state and apply accordingly.

  24. will I be able to file for unemployment if the reason I had to resign from my job is a medical reason PTSD/anxiety which I got from a robbery on the job?

    • Depends. Generally, personal reasons such as medical conditions do not qualify.

      However, as this is related to your work, please consult the labor authorities in your state and apply accordingly.

  25. If my company is on an unpaid shut down for 3 weeks can I draw unemployment in the state of Tenn?

  26. May I qualify for benefits if I am employed PRN yet company refused to let me work and hires full time employees and allowes other PRN employees to work weekly, altho I have contacted them weekly asking to allow me to work. Until I had work place injury I was working 3 to 4 days a week. Since released to come back to work without restrictions I have been allowed very. I have worked one day since October, 2013. They will not lay me off, have no resome to fire me yet they will not let me work, and I need help with expense. I need to work or get benefits.

  27. I was recently fired from my job but was given so many weeks severance pay so I could not draw unemployment. I decided during that time that I would sign up for Social Security benefits while still looking for full time work. Question is can I still qualify for unemployment benefits now that my severance has depleted?

  28. It has been 10 weeks since i filed my claim. A decision has still not been made yet. How long should it take to get a decision and how can I find out what is going on? You can not get through to talk to anyone on the phone.

  29. Sat. Nov. 23rd was my last day working. I will be paid my final paycheck on 11/29. With this, I will receive a one time severance pay. According to TN’s website, I am not eligible for unemployment benefits the week I receive severance. So, should I file for unemployment next week, or should I go ahead and do it this week?

  30. I filed on October 20th online. I have received my chase card and monetary documents. I have been certifying for 4 weeks now and everytime I call to check on the staus of my claim it tells me it has not yet been determined. How much longer will I have to wait and where am I supposed to go from here?

  31. I started a job in April this year. I told them at the start that my Mom was very ill and may pass away any time. I also had a week of vacation that had already been paid for that I didn’t want to lose my money on. That being said, my Mom did pass right after the week of vacation. Now they are saying due to performance being low which was caused because of my absence that they will be letting me go at the end of the month. Can I draw unemployement with that kind of dismissal. It appears to diciplinary but from circumstances beyond my control. Also I have applied for my S.S. and will start drawing in December. Can I draw the unemployment until that kicks in? Can I draw unemployment while I draw my S.S.?

    • Most states allow you to collect ss without it affecting your benefit amount. Yes, it does sound like a disciplinary dismissal but it is not.

  32. I am currently working but i quit a part-time job to come to this place to work also part-time,now that this job is about to go to working maybe 1 to 2 days a month can i draw unemployment / i live in tennessee so i really have no clue as to what to do.

  33. I use the computer to file my cliam. Sunday is the day i should file, i missed filing and filed on line on monday. will i still get my benefit ckeck?

  34. When filing on Sunday for the week ending at 12pm on Sat 7 Sept 2013, I accidently pressed 9 instead of 1 for the question were u willing and actively searching for a job. And the answer was yes but I accidently pressed 9. How can I correct this. the Unemployment office in our town no longer exists. Please help me…

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