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Tennessee Unemployment Insurance Overview

If you have lost your job, and it was out of your control, then you may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment insurance is paid by your employer during your employment, and is there to be utilized in the event that you are laid off, or let go through no fault of your own. Workers who are dismissed due to negligence, misconduct or inappropriate behavior generally are not qualified to receive benefits. However, if you quit your job because of harassment in the workplace, discrimination or were facing threats, then you may be entitled to unemployment compensation. If such a circumstance arises, then the worker should seek legal aid to determine the next course of action. For all other workers, however, the unemployment claims process follows a simple progression of steps. Understanding what those steps are and how to proceed through them with ease, is the key to receiving your benefits sooner.

Unemployment Insurance Qualifications

Unfortunately, not everyone will qualify for unemployment compensation benefits, even if they were release from a place of employment through no fault of their own. The state and federal guidelines stipulate that in order to receive unemployment insurance, you have to have worked in the state for the last year to 18 months and have earned a minimum total during that time. Currently, that base pay is a minimum of $780.01 in each of the two quarters of the base period. The base period is considered the first four completed calendar quarters or the last five quarters. Calendar quarters are broken down into three-month groupings. You also have to agree to continue to look for work, and that if work of a similar nature (or better) is offered to you, that you will take it. In order to file for unemployment insurance in Tennessee, you not only have to be a resident of the state, but a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant.

Filing for Unemployment Insurance

If you believe you should qualify for unemployment insurance, then you will move on to the filing process. Unemployment insurance in Tennessee can be applied for through the online platform. Before going to the online application, you should gather together some basic information. Personal information such as your Social Security Number, another form of ID (such as a driver’s license), contact information and a working email address are typical information you will need. You will also have to choose how you want to receive your benefits, once approved. Approved claimants can receive their benefits onto a TAP (Tennessee Automated Payment) card or directly deposited into a bank account. The TAP card takes about two weeks to arrive. If you opt for the direct deposit, then banking information will be required. Also required will be a short paragraph explaining the reason for your separation from work, the date and time of the last day of work, how long you worked and information about your employer (contact information and address).

Common Problems Workers Have Filing Unemployment

If you have not used the system before, there are a few idiosyncrasies that could leave you frustrated. First, the system will time out if you let it sit idle for too long. This is why it is very important to gather all of the information you are going to need prior to filling out the form. If the page times out, then you must start all over again. Secondly, the back-button feature will also lock you out and you will have to start over again. Instead, use the previous and next buttons to navigate.

What to Expect After Filing for Unemployment Compensation

Be aware that it can take a while for the information to be processed. This is because the information submitted must be verified, the employer must be contacted and your financial records must be viewed. If your employer contests the claim, then your benefits could be delayed even further. A Monetary Determination letter can either be emailed or mailed to you. This letter will tell you how much money you will receive if approved. This does not tell you if you have been accepted into the program, however. If you choose to receive your answer by post, it can take up to two weeks. Approximately two weeks after submitting your application, you will receive second letter, which will be the approval or denial of benefits. If you choose the regular mail option, this will take three weeks. State guidelines stipulate that all claims must be processed within 21 days, but there are seasonal peaks that can slow down the award time. During peak seasons (July, December-February) it can take as much as six weeks. While you are waiting, you can still go onto the claim site and track your ticket as it progresses. Once the claim is approved, you should see benefits transferred to the TAP card or your bank account within three business days.

How the Unemployment System Works

Once you are approved, you will have to go onto the platform each week to submit a claim. If you fail to do this, then you will not receive benefits for that week. You will also have to register on the Jobs4TN site and begin the job search. You are required to complete at least three job searches per week and to keep a log. Once you become employed, simply stop making weekly claims.


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