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UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN TENNESSEE
If you lost your job due to the pandemic or any other cause, you may qualify for unemployment benefits in Tennessee. You need to know if you are eligible and how much you could receive.
In Tennessee State, as in any other state, many workers who are temporarily unemployed through no fault of their own may qualify for unemployment benefits. But, eligibility rules, earnings requirements, benefit amounts, among other details, are different from state to state.
STATE UNEMPLOYMENT IN TENNESSEE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law a $1.9 billion COVID-19 relief bill known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP). And under ARP, the federal unemployment supplement of $300 per week was extended through September 6 of the same year.
This law also extends two unemployment programs created primarily by the CARES Act in March 2020: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
With the PUA program, self-employed workers, generally excluded from unemployment benefits, are now eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet some specific criteria. ARP makes PUA benefits available through Labor Day 2021 and increases the duration of these benefits from 50 to 79 weeks.
The other program, PEUC has provided a federally funded extension of benefits when state unemployment benefits have expired. ARP increases the maximum duration of PEUC benefits from 24 to 53 weeks, with an expiration date of September 4, 2021.
For up-to-date information on these rules in Tennessee State on eligibility and unemployment amounts during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should visit the state Department of Labor’s unemployment page.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN TENNESSEE STATE
The eligibility requirements for collecting unemployment benefits in Tennessee are:
Your past earnings must meet certain minimum thresholds.
You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by Tennessee law.
You must be available for work.
DO I MEET THE MINIMUM EARNINGS REQUIREMENT?
Almost all states look at your recent work history and earnings during the one-year “base period” to determine your eligibility for unemployment benefits. In Tennessee, as in all other states, the base period is the first four of the five calendar quarters before you file your claim for benefits.
Tennessee recognizes a base period for those who cannot meet the earnings requirements in a regular base period. Such a base period is the last four completed quarters before you file for unemployment? It takes into account the most recent employment. Even taxpayers who qualify using the regular base period may ask the agency to use the alternate base period to calculate their benefits if it results in a higher weekly amount.
During this period, your work history and earnings must meet the following requirements:
You must have earned wages in at least two of the four calendar quarters that make up the base period.
You must have earned at least $2,700 (in 2021) in the highest paid quarter of that base period.
Your total earnings in the base period must be at least one and one-half times your earnings in the highest paid quarter. If you earned more than $11,088 in the highest paid quarter, the agency will use $11,088 as your earnings during that quarter. In short, your total earnings during the base period need not be more than $16,632 ($11,088 x 1.5), no matter how much you earned in your highest paid quarter.
ARE YOU OUT OF WORK THROUGH NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN?
You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment compensation in Tennessee State. If you are laid off, lose your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF) or are “downsized” for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement. You may also be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are laid off because you do not meet the requirements for the job or do not meet the employer’s performance or productivity standards.
In Tennessee, employees who are terminated for work-related misconduct are not likely to qualify for unemployment benefits. If you are fired for committing a felony, you will also not be eligible for benefits.
If you quit your job, you will not be eligible for unemployment unless you have an important reason for doing so.
ARE YOU AVAILABLE AND ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR WORK?
In order to maintain your eligibility for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available for work, and looking for work. If you are offered a suitable position, you must accept it.
This position is the one for which you are suited based on your education and experience. Even if the position pays less than what you used to earn, you can’t turn it down for that reason, as long as it pays the prevailing wage for similar work.
You should keep written records of your job search efforts. If you are asked to go to the state agency for a personal interview, you may be asked to bring them.
AMOUNT AND DURATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN TENNESSEE STATE
The Tennessee State Department of Labor determines your weekly unemployment benefit amount by dividing your earnings in the highest paid quarter of the base period by 26, up to a maximum of $504 per week. (If you earned less than $3,575 in your highest paid quarter, your earnings are divided by 25 to arrive at your weekly benefit amount).
These benefits are available for up to a 26-week period. If you are still unemployed when your regular state benefits run out, you may be eligible for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and/or extended state benefits during periods of economic recession or high unemployment.
HOW TO FILE AN UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIM IN TENNESSEE STATE
You can file your unemployment claim online or by phone.
Once they have reviewed your claim, NYSDOL will send you a Monetary Determination, indicating whether you meet the work and income requirements described above. If your claim is granted, you must apply for payment each week, either online or by phone, and meet the eligibility requirements.
HOW TO APPEAL A DENIAL OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN TENNESSEE
If your claim for unemployment compensation is denied because you have not met the work or earnings requirements, the Monetary Determination will let you know. You can file a Request for Reconsideration of that determination if you are denied benefits or if you are given benefits but believe the agency has omitted earnings or work history. It (the agency) will review your application and any information you provide and may issue a revised determination.
If you are denied benefits for another reason, you will receive a separate Notice of Determination. You may appeal a denial of benefits by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge, in writing, within 30 days of the date of the notice. After receiving your request for an appeal, you will be scheduled for a hearing. The administrative law judge will decide your claim and issue a written decision.
If you disagree with the decision after the hearing, you may appeal to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. It will review the evidence and issue a written decision. If you disagree with the decision, you may file a civil case in the Appellate Division of the Tennessee State Supreme Court, Third Department.