Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment insurance (UI) is a program designed to provide temporary financial assistance to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who meet the requirements of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. UI benefits are paid as a matter of past employment and legal entitlement, and not on the basis of need.

The law sets qualifying requirements in three main areas: your past wages, your job separation, and ongoing availability and work search requirements. You must meet all of the following qualifying requirements in order to receive benefits.

Past Wages
You must have earned enough wages in your base period. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you filed your claim.

Reason for separation from your last work
You must be unemployed or partially unemployed through no fault of your own in order to receive benefits.

Ongoing availability and work search
You must be physically able and available to work. You must also be actively seeking work. If you are temporarily laid off and have a definite return-to-work date, your work search requirements may be waived.

Tennessee has a minimum and maximum weekly benefit amount, which is based upon your previous earnings. You must remain eligible/qualified for benefits during every week in which you file a claim to be paid unemployment benefits. You may work part time while receiving unemployment benefits, but a portion of those earnings may be deducted from your weekly benefit amount.

Weekly benefit amounts are based upon your previous earnings. States individually set the maximum weekly benefit amount, as well as the maximum length of time you are eligible to receive benefits (typically up to 26 weeks). Extended benefits may be available during times of high unemployment.Unemployment benefits are subject to federal income taxes and must be reported on your income tax return. If you choose, you can have federal income taxes withheld from your unemployment benefit check.