How To Apply For Unemployment In Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is the governing body for all issues related to unemployment insurance benefits in the State of Tennessee. When you apply for benefits, you’ll be asked a series of personal questions and will need to provide a valid work history in the State of Tennessee. Review the three links below before you begin:

It is recommended that you file online, but there is an option to phone file at (844) 224-5818. Have your social security or resident alien number available when you call.

No-Fault Separation and Qualifying Base Period

If you voluntary separated from your last employer, you may not be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. The guidelines clearly state that a separation from employment must be due to “no fault of your own.” This means laid off, not quit or fired. If you were terminated due to disciplinary reasons, you will be declared ineligible. You can appeal the decision, but your former employer will have a say in the hearing process.

Your “qualifying base period” is the first four of the last five months of employment. You must have earned at least $780 in two of those quarters to qualify. Your weekly unemployment insurance benefits payment will be a percentage of those wages. You can receive your weekly payment by direct deposit to your checking or savings account, or Way2Go Mastercard.

After You Have Qualified for Unemployment Benefits

Once your qualification has been confirmed, you’ll be required to file weekly reports and register at This is a job search resource sponsored by the State of Tennessee. You can search for work there or apply for job training programs. They also offer:

  • Career Assistance
  • Virtual Recruiters
  • Advanced Search Functions

Work search is required for you to maintain your eligibility for unemployment insurance weekly benefits payments. You are also required in your weekly report to confirm that you are willing to work and physically able to take a new job if offered. If an employer makes an offer, you are required to accept any open full-time employment positions you are qualified for. Disabled workers can find resources for financial assistance on the DWLD website.

Tennessee Employment Toolkit

Another resource available from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is the Tennessee Employment Toolkit. This is an online pdf document designed to help job seekers search for and find better job opportunities. The book is free to all and covers the search and interview process from start to finish. Chapters include the following:

  • Understanding Unemployment Insurance
  • Tips for Searching for Work
  • Evaluating Skills and Interests
  • Choosing a Career Path
  • Guide to Self-Employment

The purpose of unemployment insurance is not to provide “free money” while you take a much-needed vacation. The fund is paid for by employers and its intent is to be temporary and partial compensation to overcome a hardship. You can collect weekly unemployment benefits payments for up to twenty-six weeks, but the goal is for you to find a job sooner than that.

Tennessee Unemployment Insurance Program

  •  Coronavirus update: Tennessee is providing updates on Unemployment Insurance changes related to COVID-19 here: Visit Website
  •  To file a claim by telephone number: Visit Website
  •  General Information about the Unemployment Insurance Program: Visit Website

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