How to Apply for an Unemployment Extension in Tennessee


Like many states, Tennessee has a tiered system of unemployment compensation benefits. This means that the state pays the highest weekly unemployment benefit to those who are newly unemployed. As time goes on, unemployment compensation gradually decreases as an incentive for the unemployed to find work. As a result of the financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing recession, the federal government has approved assistance to states for a period of extended unemployment benefits. This benefit was recently extended through 2011. However, the law does not extend benefits for those who already have exhausted benefits. If you have not exhausted your benefits, you do not need to take any new steps to apply. You have to continue to qualify for benefits, and you are automatically moved to the next tier or into federal extension periods.

Qualify for unemployment benefits. To qualify for benefits, you must have had earnings in covered employment during the wage base period, you must have lost a significant portion of your income through no fault of your own and you must be physically capable of doing work. Disability insurance and workers compensation insurance are separate lines of insurance. Unemployment insurance does not cover those cases.

Call the state of Tennessee unemployment office at 877-813-0950. If you are dialing from the Nashville area, call 253-0800. Tennessee allows you to file a new unemployment claim by phone. You will need to be able to tell them details of your employment history over the past 18 months, however, and have employer contact information ready.

Maintain your eligibility for benefits. You must be available to work and actively seeking work to qualify for benefits. You also cannot turn down any employment for which you are reasonably suited by virtue of training and experience.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you already had exhausted your benefits, the federal extension will not benefit you. The law simply made the tier available for those who were unemployed more recently. The law did not add any new tiers to the unemployment system.

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