Tennessee Unemployment Eligibility

There are certain requirements that you must meet before you can receive Tennessee Unemployment Insurance benefits. Among these are the following:

Non Monetary Eligibility

  1. You must be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own and be approved for benefits
  2. You must be physically able to work at the time you file your first claim.
  3. You must be available to accept suitable work offered to you
  4. After filing your claim, you must serve one week of waiting for which no payment is made. You will be paid for your waiting week if and when you have certified and been eligible for benefits in your waiting week and in each of the three consecutive weeks immediately following your waiting week
  5. Each week, you must report the gross amount of any money you have earned during that week, even if you are not paid until later

Monetary Eligibility

  1. You must have worked in employment that is covered by Unemployment Insurance and have qualifying wages in the base period.
  2. You must have earned enough wages at your work to qualify for benefits
  3. The claimant’s earnings outside the highest quarter in the claimant’s base period must be equal or greater than the lesser of six (6) times the claimant’s WBA or $900. A claimant’s maximum benefit amount is the lesser of 1/4 the claimant’s base period wages or 26 times the claimant’s WBA

Eligibility Questions

Can I get unemployment if I am fired?

Unemployment benefits can only be given to people who have lost their job involuntarily through no fault of their own. This means that the individual was fired due to structural changes in the company rather than because the individual did not perform his duties effectively. Generally, if the employee’s former position was eliminated and a replacement was not hired, then the employee was fired through no fault of his own and he is eligible for benefits.

Generally, you should apply for benefits as soon as he has been fired, as there is nothing to gain from waiting.

Can I draw unemployment if I am laid off?

Usually, in Tennessee you have to become unemployed through no fault of your own in order to collect unemployment. When you get laid-off, it is not your fault.

In almost all cases, this means that if you get laid-off, you are entitled to receive unemployment benefits.

If you get laid-off from your job, you should apply for unemployment benefits without delay.

Getting laid-off doesn’t mean that you did something wrong. It simply means that your company did not have enough work for you to do and could no longer afford to pay for the job.

Can I obtain unemployment if I quit?

Technically, if you quit your job, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s regulations prevent you from obtaining unemployment. However, if you can prove that the reason you quit can be attributed to your employer, it’s possible to win an unemployment appeal. This could include situations where your employer made it difficult for you to continue working or violated labor laws.

You can be eligible for unemployment benefits if you can provide concrete evidence that supports your claim. This may include written communication from your employer or supervisor. You might also consider using photographic evidence or notarized witness statements. The more evidence you can provide, the more likely you will win your benefits.

Who is eligible for federal extension benefits?

Federal extension benefits are designed to provide further income support to eligible unemployed workers who have been out of work for a long period of time. The current legislation made December 23, 2012, the deadline for filing a first federal extension of benefits, once a regular UI claim runs out. The deadline for filing a second or third federal extension of benefits was also December 23, 2012, once the prior level of extension runs out.

More Questions?? —-> Read Eligibility Q & A Section
Want to know about how much you will receive?? —–>Calculate your benefits here

  1. Hello
    I live in TN. My employer for the past year has on and off not had the funds at the bank for the payroll service to process payroll for the employee direct deposit. Each time there is a different excuse for why the funds are not there. He will always do hand written checks the following week after the pay day. It has happened again with different excuses. Can I leave my job and collect unemployment benefits due to not knowing if you will receive a paycheck on the scheduled pay day? This is getting very old. My fear is that one day the funds will not be there even on the following week of the pay date.

    • Hi, Susan – in some cases, it is possible to qualify for unemployment benefits even if you quit your job voluntarily. In those cases, you need to show that your employer has created such a harmful physical and/or mental environment that you have no choice but to quit. It’s hard to say whether the situation you describe would meet that criteria. You should likely connect with someone directly in the Tennessee unemployment office and/or a qualified unemployment lawyer to learn more about whether your specific situation is likely to qualify.

  2. I had to leave my employer late last year due to mental health issues brought on by the job. I finally found work again in April once I was told my mental health had recovered. I had a procedure done and my vocal cords were damage. I worked with the public and was unable to speak. My employer and I decided it was best to mutually part ways due to inability to perform the necessary duties with my injury. I’m a full time student that was working part time. Would I even qualify for unemployment given I’ve been told I am virtually unemployable until I recover from the injury and cleared by my doctor? Any help is appreciated.

    • Hi, Robert – under Tennessee law, if you are enrolled as a full-time student, you can still qualify for unemployment benefits. Benefit eligibility is determined by previous employment history, wages, and other criteria. It is possible your full-time enrollment status can satisfy your weekly work search requirement IF you are approved for benefits. You should connect with someone in the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to discuss the specifics of your situation.

    • Dear WMD,

      Yes, you will likely be eligible for benefits in Tennessee. If you quit a job for important family or health reasons, like caring for a sick family member, you are usually still eligible for benefits. If your child needs ongoing care, for example, and you are the only one who can provide it, quitting probably won’t make you ineligible for benefits. More commonly, people quit to care for a parent.

      File today. Best of luck.


  3. I had to leave my job because of taking care of a sick family member. Can I collect unemployment?

    • Dear Michelle,

      Typically, yes. This is a common occurrence and it doesn’t matter if the family member is a child or great-aunt–if no one else can care for that person, than your reason for quitting your job entitles you to unemployment benefits.

      File soon, the process can take a while.



  4. Hello,
    I am in outside sales and my husband lost his job in January 2021 due to Covid lack of business. He now has found a new job and we have to move out of my sales territory. I gave my notice and my last day is coming up on April 8. Is it possible for me to file for unemployment while looking for a new job in TN?

    Many thanks

  5. Hi! I recently had a car accident in which my car was totaled. This is my only source of transportation and without it I will not be able to make the 45 minute commute to my job. My place of employment (a Bank) has additional branches closer to my home. If a suitable alternative cannot be worked out that will allow me to keep my job and I have to separate from the company due to this issue can I file for unemployment? Would it be better in this case for me to quit or to let them fire me if it comes to that? I live in Tennessee. Thanks for any help.

    • Chad,

      This is a tricky situation. I suggest you don’t resign voluntarily (may go against you). Instead please call/visit website of the Unemployment Office for clarity.

  6. Two and a half years ago, I was hired for a very high volume onboarding position in the HR Department. My job is now changing to over one third call center duties. This will cause anxiety and stress as I am not suited to this type of work at all. I would never have accepted a job with these duties. Can I qualify for unemployment if I quit because of the anxiety caused by the change in job duties?

  7. Hi I am Dee and I live in TN. I have been at my new job for about 5 months. I just recently found out I am pregnant. My employer is in the healthcare field and we have had 60 cases of covid in our facility. I asked my regional boss about working from home but she said they will not allow it. I don’t want to risk getting covid. My receptionist just tested positive and she works in the same office as me. Can I leave my job due to risk and file for unemployment. I’m concerned for my child at this point and they seem to not have the virus under control with 4-6 new cases every week

    • Dee,

      UI benefits are only offered to claimants who lose employment due to involuntary reasons. Please call the Unemployment Office to check your eligibility.

  8. I am employed in Kansas but last year worked in Tennessee so I had to file in Tennessee. I was furloughed due to the virus in March and have been applying for unemployment since April and my claim has not been denied and is in progress but I still haven’t received any payment. My work environment was poor before the virus and we just went back to work, and my work environment is even worse with my boss harassing me and calling me names. I want to quit for the harassment reason but also because I want to start my own business… but will I still get the unemployment check for the weeks I was furloughed? I haven’t been able to get in contact with any representatives. I know its so complicated!

  9. I worked at a place for about 6 months. In April I received unemployment benefits because our store closed down. When we opened back up, I stopped receiving benefits because I was working again. One week I had a fever so I was required by my doctor to stay home. I turned my doctors note into my employer but he took my hours away for the next week out of spite.I quit the day I seen my schedule. Am I eligible for unemployment even though I quit? I quit because he manipulated my hours due to me having to call in the week prior but I had a doctors note.

    • Haylee,

      UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose employment due to no fault of their own. If you think it was not your fault, please apply for UI and keep supporting docs handy in case of a dispute.

  10. I worked for a company for 4 years and qui bc my boss was bullying me daily and I couldn’t take it anymore. A month after I quit they hired me to work part time from home. After 3 months they fired me and didn’t pay me my last check. Do I qualify for unemployment?

  11. I worked part time (16 hours per week) and my company did away with my position. Can I draw unemployment even though I only worked part time?

      • Can I draw unemployment if I was self employed and took care of a patient that died during start up of covid and now covid has hit and I can’t find another person that needs sitting with. Can I draw unemployment

        • Self-employed persons may not qualify. However, you might be able to claim under the PUA. Please visit the Unemployment Office’s website.

  12. I left a steady, good paying job to accept a good offer with another company. The owner of the new company was not honest with me about the financial state of his company. Within a week, I realized he was transferring company funds to his personal accounts and when I asked him about it, he locked me out of the company accounts. There were also many other events that happened, including none of our employees getting paid. He blamed me for that and it was 100% his responsibility. I quit 3 weeks after I started. He has threatened the lives of many people (among other bad things) and is now in a psychiatric hospital and the company is barely hanging on (all of the employees have left.) I have been fearful of filing for unemployment due to his mental state and what he might do to retaliate. Would this be a rightful claim for a hostile work environment and how would they even contact him in his current situation? I’m unsure of how to proceed.

    • Melissa,

      Yes, this does sound like a solid case of ‘hostility’ at the workplace. Please go ahead and speak to the Unemployment Office before applying. You can explain in detail about the situation and also encourage your colleagues to apply under the same reason.

      Best Wishes!

  13. In February of 2019 I was terminated for not seeing the owners vision and where he wanted to take the company, I did not immediately file because I assumed that I would have another job before the severance pay ran out. Well two months later and over 140 applications still no job. Two things: 1. I worked for a company that was purchased by a new owner. Does all of that time count as one? 2. If I file now would my pay go back to the termination date or would it just start now?

    • Steven,

      I did not quite understand the first question. With regard to the second one, it would start from the time it’s approved.

  14. I would be relocating to Tennessee since I sold my home in Illinois. The selling of my home was based on my company was going to close once they sold there building. It has not happen as of yet but the company plans aren’t change. Since my house sold 1st I will now have to leave and relocate early

  15. I was offered a job assignment as a Laser Machine Operator though a Temp. Agency. I wasn’t offered a chance to see the job, view the job requirements or duties. I started 3-15-2019 and voluntary quit on 3-20-2019, due to the following reasons.
    1. The work environment was very intolerable. 2. I feared for my safety, because I wasn’t receiving any training of how to perform the job or how to operate the machine properly. So I felt that quitting was my only option. I’m I eligible to
    receive unemployment.

    • Eleanor,

      You can be eligible to claim under “Hostile” working conditions. However, temp/contract workers do not generally qualify since employers’ don’t pay Unemployment Taxes into the system. Please call the Unemployment Office to learn more.

  16. I was diagnosed with diabetes and now I feel like I can not safely preform my job if I guit am I eligible for unemployment benefits

    • Aaro,

      You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons. Please contact the Unemployment Office in your state.

      Hope you get well soon!

  17. My production manager and HR are trying to fire me for having a negative attitude and not getting along with another co worker. Even though I have made complaints to the production manager in front of my direct supervisor about co worker cussing me he called me a crybaby . Now he denies it in front of HR and will not let me bring witnesses into the room when being interrogated as to why my attitude isn’t the greatest anymore. HR isn’t believing me either because of hearsay and majority people there are friends with the co worker accusing me so its conflict of interest. My direct supervisor doesnt even know whats hoing on because he hasnt had issues with me. HR told me one more time I don’t get along with the other co worker I’m fired. These threats have put a tremendous amount of mental stress on me and feel unsafe at work. If I quit now instead of dealing with this torture can I get unemployment.

    • Chris,

      There is a thin line! You can quit and claim due to “hostile” working conditions. However, your employer may contest during claims processing and you should be able to prove otherwise. If you think you have the confidence and documentation, you can think further in this direction.

  18. I was on probation. I was arrested erroneously for simple poss. It was a valid, up to date, legal Rx, in the legal bottle. My attorney wrote a letter stating that the arrest should have never occured. That it was an error on the side of law enforcement. As a result, I violated probation and lost my job due to being incarcerated. Upon showing my pharmacy records to D.A the Poss. charge was dismissed, and the violation of probation was as well. I was in jail and unable to notify my employer. This was no fault of my own. Am I eligible for U.I benefits in Tn?

    • Joshua,

      I hope the situation gets better soon. You can go ahead and claim UI benefits since it was not your fault. Make sure to keep supporting documents handy and produced them when required.

  19. I am being laid off May 31 due to cut backs. I am also a reservist. Does the reserve pay prevent me from filing a claim?

    • Chris,

      I am not sure of a definite answer to your question. I suggest you call the Unemployment Office to find out.

  20. I reccently quit my job. I worked there full time for the last 18 months. I had been given a promotion by my boss who is also the owner and CEO. He then gave my position to a new hire without notifying me or without any reason known to me. I attempted to contact him before i quit to ask why about his decisions and he didnt even reply. I have emails supporting these claims. Can anyone give me insight on a case like this? Could i be eligible for benefits while i look for another job?

    • Zach,

      If you have supporting paperwork to prove things went against you involuntarily, you can be eligible. Your employer might raise a dispute during the processing of the claim.

  21. I was unemployed for years as a caregiver in my family. I started back work at the end of april 2017 and my contract at my job ends around the end of may 2018. I filed for benefits during the Christmas shutdown and was denied because of lack of earnings from 6/16 to 7/17, which is fine, but will I be eligible upon my long term but not permanent layoff coming up?

    • Todd,

      Since you’re in a seasonal job, I am not sure of your eligibility. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  22. Our company has planned a 1 week MANDATORY shutdown with no pay. Can we file for our waiting week in case that they do this again this year?

  23. I had a colonectomy 2/8/17. On 2/10/17 I suffered a stroke. I was covered by FMLA. The day after FMLA ran out I was DISCHARGED. When I filed for unemployment I was denied. They state that I left my employment for health reasons. I did not quit my job. I am currently looking for employment. Shouldn’t I be eligible for unemployment.

  24. I was out from work for approx 2 weeks due to health related issues. Although it wasn’t paid leave as I didn’t have PTO to cover the days, I did notify my employer. I was told verbally that if we are out 3 days or more it’s considered 1 occurrence and we did not have to call every single day, only when we have some sort of an update. Now I’m receiving an email of my supervisor giving notice to Human Resources of my voluntary separation from the company. Well I never verbally quit nor did I submit a letter of resignation. Therefore, this was not voluntary at all. Would I qualify for unemployment and what would I need to do in regards to the employer having my departure listed as a voluntary separation?

    • Amelia,

      You should qualify, provided you have the necessary paperwork to prove your stance. Please talk to the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  25. I was forced to resigned due to being bullied and harassed by the assistant manager. I left a job of working 9 years, before coming to Orion Credit Union. I was forced to resign or get fired. And been put in a spot of not having any income due too lack of training, and mistreated. Would I beable to get unemployment, based on the situation?

    • Of course, you can be eligible to claim UC benefits if you leave due to hostile work environment.

      Please make sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute raised by your employer.

    • Please note this is a website that deals with Unemployment Insurance benefits.

      You may call the authorities for further details on retirement benefits.

  26. I applied for unemployment 4-5 weeks ago I worked at my company for 2 years and had to find better work due to the company not providing mats to stand on I required stress fracked so I found a job that had accurate equipment and was fired within a month, am I eligible for unemployment my family needs this, please

    • You can be eligible to claim due to hazardous work conditions.

      If you’ve already applied, please call the Claims Center for an update.

  27. I was hired as a part time employee. Some weeks I work 20 hours and some weeks can be 34 or more. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I’m fired?

    • You can be eligible as long as your employer is paying the relevant taxes into the system.

      Please check with your employer.

    • Yes, you can be eligible as long as separation from the job is due to involuntary reasons such as Lay Offs.

  28. I quit my job of 7 years because my hours were being drop. I went to Randstad for better paying job, in the process I was let go from my assignment at no fault of my own. I was only there for 4 months. I am fixing to have to surgery and recovery is 6 to 12 weeks. So my question would be would I be able to collect unemployment?

  29. I gave 30 day notice of resignation and was let go after a week. My employer says I am not due unemployment because I resigned. Is this true? I was expecting to work until my end date. Can I collect unemployment?

    • If you resigned voluntarily, you will not qualify for UI benefits.

      Benefits are only provided to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons.

  30. I am a construction worker and I also pastor a small church, my construction job will soon come to an end, will any money I receive at the church effect my unemployment?

    • It will have a bearing. You are required to declare the income from the church when you apply.

      Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for further details.

  31. I have never filled out unemployment before and I made an error on my weekly certification. I did contact 3 places (actually 4)for employment, but when I answered I said no because I misunderstood the question. Can I fix that so that I can be certified for the week

  32. I had to quit my job suddenly do to domestic violence. I went home to CA since I couldn’t afford a place to live in TN. Can I claim unemployment

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

  33. Base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. If you are filing today, base period is Jul 2014 – Sep 2014 to Apr 2015 – Jun 2015

    Does the base period have to be with the same Tennessee employer that worngfully terminated me?

  34. I reported my boss for neglect and exploitation of the individuals I cared for, about 3 weeks ago. Today I got fired for something I didn’t do. Would I be eligible for benefits?

    • Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state.

      Not sure if you will be eligible since the employment is not on permanent rolls.

  35. I was not qualified for benefits because my doctor stated he didn’t know when I could return to original job as sales in call center. The call center already approved me for benefits.

    • If there is a dispute, please call the claims center immediately for further advise. Make your stance clear.

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

    • Depends on the reason for FMLA. If you’re now able,available to work and looking for jobs, please inquire with the labor authorities in your state and apply accordingly.

  36. I am working in a private home work is physically breaking my body down… they are not willing to shorten hours to help me I am 57 cannot do the work at this level anymore..I would like to work but less hours..could I receive benefits if I quit till I find something else?

    • Voluntary resignation is not considered. Please try and work out a plan with your employer.

      You can also call the labor authorities in your state and check if you qualify under such as situations.

  37. I work weekends at a restaurant. Lately they haven’t even always been scheduling me to work. If they don’t schedule me at all during a work week can I file for unemployment even though I’m only a part time employee?

    • Is the employment contractual? If it is on a contractual basis, you will not qualify.

      Please validate credentials and apply accordingly.

  38. I am full time faculty at a community college. I am on a nine month contract with pay over 12 months. I was told that due to declining enrollment, my contract may not be renewed. If that happens, can I collect unemployment benefits?

  39. I recently started working full time again after 7 years of retirement I have been working just over 4 months and am will have 2 weeks of being laid off during christmas…can I apply for benefits in TN?

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