Who Is Eligible To Collect Unemployment Insurance
In normal times, according to the US Department of Labor, you’re eligible for UI benefits if you:
1. Lose your job through no fault of your own.
2. Meet the work and wage requirements established by your state as well as any additional state requirements.
That noted, the eligibility criteria was adjusted in 2020 with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, but those pandemic unemployment benefits have since expired. Still, in most cases, you can be denied if it can be proved that you quit your job without “good cause” or if you were discharged for misconduct or lack of compliance with employer policies.
How To File For Unemployment In Tennessee
Weekly claims for unemployment may have begun to taper off in the last few weeks, but the number of people whove lost their job since COVID began ripping its way through the economy still makes for grim reading. As tennessean.com notes, in Tennessee, 581,405 residents have filed new unemployment claims since March 15, with 302,260 of these continued in the week ending May 30. While unemployment benefits wont fill the gap of a lost income entirely, they can at least serve as a stop-gap until new employment is found. If youre one of the thousands of Tennesseans whove lost their job or had their hours reduced as a result of the crisis, heres how to file for unemployment in Tennessee.
Other Arrangements And Additional Benefits Outside Tennessee
Other states provide for alternative arrangements and/or additional benefits beyond those outlined above that are not currently available in Tennessee.
Twenty-eight states have work-sharing programs that provide UI benefits for employees whose hours have been cut by at least 10%. Established by Congress in 2012, optional work-share programs are meant to encourage employers to avoid layoffs for some by scaling back hours for all employees while maintaining their other fringe benefits . The CARES Act provides federal support for new and existing work-share programs through December 31, 2020.
Thirteen states adjust benefits for dependent children or non-working dependents. An additional weekly allowance for dependents ranges from $8/week max in Pennsylvania to as much as $397/week in Massachusetts.
Twenty-two other states also provide additional benefits in other circumstances. For example, some states provide up to 13 weeks of UI to unemployed workers who are otherwise ineligible. Some states also offer additional weeks of UI for individuals in approved training programs.
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Fired For Not Getting Vaccinated It Might Be Hard To Collect Unemployment Benefits
The federal vaccination mandate for employers with at least 100 workers is temporarily blocked, but getting unemployment benefits could still be unlikely.
Vaccine requirements could make you ineligible for jobless aid if you don’t have a legitimate exemption.
Vaccination mandates have been sweeping across the US, with President Biden’s mandate being the most expansive, requiring more than 100 million workers to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or else submit a negative weekly COVID-19 test to their employer. The mandate applies to private sector companies with 100 or more employees, as well as federal contractors and health care workers. At least 27 states have challenged the mandate in federal court since the White House’s announcement on Thursday, with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocking the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate for employers with 100 or more employees across the nation.
So what happens if you refuse to comply as an employee to get vaccinated or submit a weekly COVID test? Do you still qualify for unemployment insurance after getting fired?
Multiple studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe illness and death and are an important tool in bringing the pandemic under control. Nearly all COVID hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated.
How To Qualify For Tennessee Unemployment Benefits
If you are without work through no fault of your own, youve earned sufficient qualifying wages over the last 12 months, and youre willing, able, and available for work, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in Tennessee.
To be eligible for Tennessee unemployment insurance benefits, you must be a resident of Tennessee and all of the following must be true:
- You are unemployed through no fault of your own
- You worked in Tennessee during the past 12 months
- You earned a minimum amount of wages determined by Tennessee guidelines
- You are actively seeking work each week you are collecting benefits
Tennessee claimants are most often deemed ineligible for the following reasons:
- The claimant voluntarily terminated employment without good work-related cause
- The claimant was terminated for work-related misconduct
- The claimant is participating in a labor dispute other than a lockout that is in active progress
- The claimant fails to seek or to accept suitable work when offered
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Unemployment And Ppp Updates
As many businesses in Tennessee begin the process of reopening, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has issued clarification on employees obligation to return to work if called back. Subject to COVID-19 related qualifying exceptions, if an employer recalls its employee, the employee must return to work or else he or she will not qualify for unemployment benefits. As employers experience pushback from employees that may be receiving increased unemployment benefits or are dealing with COVID-19 related concerns, it is important for employers and employees alike to understand the implication of a refusal to return to work, both with or without a qualifying COVID-19 related reason.
For an employee currently receiving unemployment benefits through TDLWD, when an employer notifies an employee of a recall or reopening, the employee must report the offer of work during their weekly certification to the TDLWD. If the employee refuses to return and is not the subject of a qualifying exception, they will no longer qualify for unemployment benefits. Any benefits received after the employees recall are considered an overpayment of benefits, which must be repaid. If overpayments are deemed to be the result of fraud , the employee could be subject to penalties and interest, including potential criminal prosecution for fraud in the most serious circumstances.
Do I Qualify For Unemployment Benefits
You can file for unemployment benefits in Tennessee if you:
- Lost your job through no fault of your own and were not fired for cause or
- Are laid off temporarily because your employer has been forced to close
In addition, you must have made enough in qualifying wages to file a claim. You’ll need to have earned at least $780.01 in two separate quarters during the base period for your claim. If you’re filing a claim in March 2020, your base period is October 2018 through September 2019. If youre filing in April, the period would be January through December 2019.
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How Are States Handling The Issue
State lawmakers “have widely diverse views on vaccine mandates,” according to David Mallen, a partner representing the Employee Law Group in Torrance, California. “States like CA and NY are introducing these vaccine mandates, but other states are doing the exact opposite. They have either introduced or already passed legislation banning vaccine mandates.”
In New York, health care and education workers are required to get vaccinated, and the state’s Labor Department has clearly stated that employees in these sectors who refuse employer-mandated vaccination or COVID testing aren’t eligible for UI benefits.
The guidelines are less clear in other states. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee mandated that all health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18 or face dismissal. But while the majority will likely be ineligible for UI, there may be accommodations based on “unique circumstances.”
Other states have introduced or attempted to proceed on legislation that would make discriminating against employees’ vaccine status illegal.
One of the problems is that there hasn’t yet been a legal decision that other lawyers, applicants and employers can use to guide future conduct. “Because vaccine mandates are relatively new, there are not yet any precedential decisions on this issue,” explained Jacob Korder, a labor and employment attorney in New York.
That’s why many legal experts are saying that unemployment claims will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Types Of Monetary Severance Payments
Tennessee law draws a distinction between monetary termination pay in-lieu of notice, defined severance pay or compensation as part of a different type of separation package. Under Tennessee law, an employee who receives a monetary compensation to voluntarily quit is not eligible for unemployment benefits unless the monetary compensation package exceeds the total amount of unemployment benefits he could have received if he was eligible. Severance pay based on past work does not disqualify applicants.
Tennessee law views severance pay as payment for past services, and employees who receive severance pay are eligible for unemployment benefits. However, payments for future services as an inducement for voluntary resignation are not viewed as severance pay, and applicants are disqualified when receiving inducement packages.
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What Can I Get
In Tennessee, your general benefit amount is based on your wages and is capped at $275.00 per week for 26 weeks. With the outbreak of COVID-19, unemployment benefits will be made available to business owners, independent contractors and the self-employed. Also, you may be eligible to receive an additional $600 per week for up to 4 months and unemployment benefits for a total of 39 weeks.
You May Be Eligible For Benefits Even If You Quit You Were Fired For Cause Or You Are Still Working Part
Some people mistakenly believe that unemployment is available only to employees who are laid off. However, you don’t have to lose your job in a layoff to qualify for benefits. The key question is whether you are out of work without fault on your part. So, if you were forced to quit your job in lieu of being fired, or you were fired because you don’t have the necessary skills for your job, you could still be eligible for benefits.
- online by going to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development website, or
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Tennessees Unemployment Trust Fund
As of March 1, 2020, Tennessees unemployment trust fund balance totaled $1.3 billion. This represented Tennessees highest trust fund balance ever, both in total dollars and as a percent of total wages .
Despite record balances, Tennessee fell just shy of a federal target for ability to weather a typical recession . Federal officials calculate recommended targets for each state based on their trust fund balances, total wages, and highest payouts in previous recessions. Going into 2020, Tennessee was among 21 states that had not met the recommended target.
The recent historic influx of claims is expected to strain the states unemployment trust fund. Withdrawals from the trust fund began to spike the week ending April 4, 2020, rising to 15x normal levels by mid-May . Tennessee disbursed nearly $64 million in regular UI benefits from its trust fund the week ending May 16. Without factoring in new contributions, Tennessees estimated fund balance as of mid-May could support benefits at that level for about 14 weeks.
The state began using federal CARES Act money to pay out benefits in late May. The Lee administration plans to use a total of $400 million in FY 2020 from the states $2.4 billion federal Coronavirus Relief Fund allocation to backfill the states trust fund. The administration estimates that an additional $600 million would be needed between July and December to avoid an automatic rate increase on businesses under current state law.
Unemployment Benefits In Tennessee During The Covid
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill known as the American Rescue Plan . The law extended a $300 per week federal unemployment supplement until September 6, 2021. However, in response to apparent labor shortages, the state of Tennessee decided to end this supplement early on July 3, 2021. That means the unemployment supplement is no longer available in Tennessee.
The law also extended two unemployment programs originally created by the CARES Act in March 2020: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation .
Under the PUA program, self-employed workersusually excluded from unemployment benefitsare entitled to unemployment if they meet certain criteria. ARP makes PUA benefits available through Labor Day 2021, and increases the maximum duration of these benefits from 50 to 79 weeks.
The PEUC program provides for a federally-funded extension of benefits when state unemployment benefits expire. ARP increases the maximum duration of PEUC benefits from 24 to 53 weeks, with an expiry date of September 4, 2021.
Here are the basic rules for collecting unemployment compensation in Tennessee.
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Are You Available And Actively Searching For Work
To maintain your eligibility for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to accept a job, and looking for employment. If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it. A position is suitable if it is reasonably related to your qualifications and if the hours, pay, distance, and other working conditions are typical of your occupation. However, the longer you are unemployed, the more willing you’ll have to be to accept a position that requires less skill or that pays lower wages. For example, by the time you have been unemployed for 13 weeks, you must accept a position that pays 75% of your average weekly wage during the highest quarter of your base period.
You must conduct a reasonable search for work, which means performing at least three work search activities each week. You should keep a log of your job search efforts, including the employers you have contacted, the dates you made contact, and the outcome. The TDLWD may contact you or your employer contacts to verify your efforts.
How Can I Find A Good Unemployment Lawyer In Tennessee
There are several ways to find a good lawyer to help with your unemployment claim in Tennessee. The best way to find a lawyer is always through a referral from someone you know. Ask family members, friends, and other professionals you work with whether they can recommend a good employment lawyer.
Lawyers specialize, so your friends divorce lawyer wont be the right person to handle your unemployment appeal. However, lawyers also know other lawyers, so dont hesitate to ask a well-recommended lawyer in a different field for an employment lawyer referral.
If you cant find a lawyer through personal referrals, here are a couple of other options:
- Check with the Tennessee Bar Association for information about lawyer referral services in Tennessee.
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What Do I Have To Do To Keep Receiving Unemployment Benefits In Tennessee
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, federal and state governments have made changes to their unemployment programs, to ensure that more people who are out of work receive benefits more quickly. These changes may affect waiting periods, job search requirements, and availability of benefits to those who are still working part time. These changes used to include the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which greatly expanded the nation’s unemployment compensation program, including continuation of benefits. But, the CARES Act ended on September 6, 2021, and the expanded benefits are no longer provided .
How To File For Unemployment In Tn During Covid
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Right now, many people are out of work through no fault of their own. Filing for unemployment is a safety net for hard times like this.
According to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, there are three changes you should know under Executive Order 15.First, the order temporarily suspends the waiting week requirement. Now you can receive your first benefit upfront instead of waiting to certify for four consecutive weeks.
Second, the executive order helps include more people. By law, to be eligible a person must be able and available to work. Claimants could be laid-off, quit for good reason, or fired for reasons other than misconduct. Now it includes people who are isolated and quarantined by a medical professional.Third, the job search requirement is temporarily modified. Normally, you must document your work search activity each week. Now that can include job searches made online or over the phone.
HOW TO FILEIf you have a computer and internet, you can file for unemployment at home. Log onto Jobs4TN.gov to start your application.
If you have questions about filing for unemployment, click here.
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How Much Will I Be Paid
To determine a weekly benefit amount on an initial unemployment claim, wage amounts are reviewed for a time frame called a Standard Base Period. This period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the date your initial claim is filed. The base period changes on the Sunday of the first complete calendar week of the new quarter.
To receive benefits you must have earned a minimum of $780.01 in each of two quarters during your Standard Base Period. If youve met this requirement, then your wages earned will be used to calculate your weekly benefit amount.
The maximum amount of benefits you may be eligible to receive in your benefit year is either 26 times your weekly benefit amount or one-fourth of your base period wageswhichever amount is less will be used for your claim. To be eligible for benefits, you must have base period wages outside the highest quarter of your base period of at least six times your WBA or $900.
If you worked in Tennessee during your base period but moved to another state, you may be able to claim benefits for those wages earned in Tennessee. If you worked in another state during the base period, but moved to Tennessee, you may file a claim for benefits from another state. In some cases your wages from two or more states may be combined to establish an eligible claim for benefits.
Eligible claimants may receive up to $275 per week for a maximum of 26 weeks of unemployment insurance per year.