The number of federal employees applying for Tennessee unemployment insurance benefits has more than doubled during the last 10 days as the partial shutdown of the United States government moves into its fourth week.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Unemployment Security Division processed 400 claims for federal employees from the day the shutdown started through Jan. 8. The latest check of data Friday showed the number of claims has more than doubled to nearly 900.
Depending on the work requirements for each individual, many federal employees in Tennessee may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits during the shutdown.
The United States Department of Labor has strict requirements claimants must meet to receive benefits, one of which is an unemployed person must be willing and available to work. A federal employee currently not on the job meets this requirement because they are free to work.
Federal employees required to work without pay are not eligible for unemployment benefits because they are not available to work.
If the state approves an application for benefits, unemployment claimants must certify online each week they are available to work. The state is deferring the requirement federal claimants conduct weekly online job searches in order to receive benefits because they are part of a temporary layoff.
The first week a person files for benefits is considered their waiting week and the claimant will not receive money. The earliest a claimant can expect payment is after two weeks of filing certifications. Since this is the peak season for unemployment claims, coupled with the federal shutdown; it could take up to 21 days to make a determination on an application for benefits.
The maximum weekly benefit in Tennessee is $275, which is subject to federal income taxes.
President Donald Trump recently signed a bill that will provide federal employees back wages once the shutdown ends. Per USDOL requirements, anyone who receives unemployment benefits while furloughed will be required to repay the state of Tennessee the amount of money they received or risk being in fraud overpayment.
Claimants can complete the application process for Tennessee unemployment insurance on the state’s workforce development website, www.Jobs4TN.gov.
Anyone with questions can call TDLWD at 844-224-5818 or they can use the live chat function on tn.gov/workforce Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. CT.