Unemployment Guide in Tennessee

May 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Layoffs & Firings

According to the United States Department of Labor, approximately 292,300 people in Tennessee are unemployed. That amounts to 9.6% of the working population in Tennessee. What that means is that for every ten people you know, chances are one of them
are unemployed. Those are scary numbers!

If you are unfortunate enough to lose your job in Tennessee, this guide is for you. I have taken most of my information directly from a pamphlet entitled “Guide for Receiving UI Benefits” that I obtained from www.tennesseeanytime.org/labor

You can download the aforementioned pamphlet and read it in its entirety. However, I have summarized the most important information for you here.


In order to obtain unemployment benefits, you must be eligible to receive them. Eligibility depends on a few things. First, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own. The following examples indicate situations in which you would be ineligible for benefits:

1. Moving to another locality
2. Lack of transportation
3. Lack of a baby sitter
4. Quitting to attend school or to care for a friend or relative
5. Unable to get along with others
6. Routine change in working hours (you cannot quit just because they put you on a different shift)
7. Excessive tardiness
8. Willful neglect of duties
9. Insubordination
10. Intentional violation of corporate policies
11. Willful destruction of property
12. Theft, disloyalty, embezzlement
13. Inflicting harm on a fellow employee or employer

Of course, with anything there are gray areas. If you think your situation falls within a gray area, you have the right to contact an attorney who can help you with your case. Contact your local bar association or legal services department to find low cost or pro-bono legal assistance.

Eligibility includes more than just your reason for departure. In addition to losing your job for an eligible reason, the following would also disqualify you from receiving benefits:

1. Receiving deductible retirement equal to or in excess of your weekly benefit amount
2. Receiving compensation for temporary partial disability
3. Earnings equal to or more than your weekly benefit amount
4. Being out-of-town and not available for work during your usual work week
5. Fraud in connection with your claim
6. Seeking or receiving unemployment benefits from another state or from a federal unemployment claim and at the same time drawing benefits from Tennessee
7. Receiving vacation or holiday pay equal to or greater than your weekly benefit amount
8. Failure to make a reasonable effort to find work
9. Certain types of self-employment involving commission sales

After You File Your Initial Claim

Once you decide that you are eligible to receive benefits, and you have filed your initial claim, you are in a one-week period called the waiting week. If you file certification for four consecutive weeks, meet all eligibility requirements, and do not have earnings that equal or exceed the weekly benefit amount you will be paid for this week.

Each week you need to file a certification. You can do this on-line or through the TIPS service. Personally, I would encourage you to use the on-line service. However, the on-line service is not set up to accept combined wage claims, Federal claims, or military claims. If you have these type of claims you will need to call the TIPS number to provide your certification.

What is certification? Basically stated, Tennessee wants to hear from you that you have remained eligible to receive claims each week. Using the phone service, the certification includes ten items that include the following:

1. Did you do any work?
2. How much did you earn before taxes?
3. Did you receive holiday or vacation pay?
4. Did you refuse work, quit a job, or were fired from a job?
5. Did you enter or discontinue training this week?
6. Did you begin receiving or have a change to any type of pension other than Social Security?
7. Did you receive payment for temporary partial disability this week?
8. Were you able, and did you look for work as directed?
9. Your claim has been accepted (or denied) and is being processed
10. Thank you, goodbye.

DO NOT LIE TO TENNESSEE! You will get caught. Tennessee knows if you got a job – even if you got a job in another state. Lying has severe consequences so please be honest when filing your claim and weekly certifications.

Where to file your weekly certification:

On-line: http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/labor/
TIPS: Outside of Nashville, but in TN: 1-800-689-9799
Inside of Nashville: 532-1800
Out of State Claim: 1-800-262-8094

If you use TIPS, be sure to submit your weekly claim on the day required to ensure payment! If your social security number ends in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 call NO LATER THAN 5PM ON SUNDAY. Everyone else, by 5PM on MONDAY.

Other Important Facts

The following facts are also important to know when dealing with your Tennessee unemployment claim:

* Federal income tax is withheld from your benefit at a flat rate of 10%
* You can be prosecuted for making fraudulent statements
* If you have previously filed, in order to be eligible for a new claim you must earn five times your weekly benefit amount in covered employment since you filed your last initial claim to be monetarily eligible for a new claim.
* You have the right to appeal your written Agency decision. You must do so within fifteen (15) calender days of the date your notice was MAILED.
* The most you can receive is fifty-nine (59) weeks of unemployment benefits. Thirty-Three (33) of these weeks are federal emergency benefits

I hope you find this information helpful when dealing with unemployment in Tennessee.


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