How Long Do You Receive Unemployment Benefits in Tennessee?

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Once you know how much you can receive in unemployment benefits, your next question is usually how long you can collect those benefit. In Tennessee, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, or DLWD, determines the duration of your unemployment payments by reviewing your base period covered wages. Using the state formula and the state laws regarding maximums, the DLWD awards you a maximum benefit amount per benefit year.

Base Period

  • The duration of your unemployment benefit is based on your base period earnings. Your base period is the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before you filed your initial claim. So if you filed your claim on April 19, 2011, your base period would cover January 2010 through December 2010. If you couldn't collect benefits based on your base period, the DLWD allows use of the alternate base period: the last four full calendar quarters before you filed for unemployment. If you filed for benefits on April 19, 2011, your alternate base period would be April 2010 through March 2011.

Calculating Duration of Benefits

  • The DLWD reviews the wages you earned from covered employment or the work you completed that falls under the Tennessee unemployment compensation laws. The DLWD starts by totalling your covered wages that occurred during your base period. Then it divides the total by 4 to determine the most compensation you can collect per benefit year. If you'd like to know what that means in terms of benefit weeks, divide your total compensation amount by your weekly benefit amount.

Maximum Duration of Benefits

  • Tennessee state laws limit the amount you can collect per benefit year to avoid you collecting unemployment all year long. These laws supersede the amount your base period wages allow you to collect. The maximum you can receive for benefits in Tennessee is 26 times your weekly benefit amount. In terms of benefit weeks, that means about 26 benefit weeks per benefit year.

Understanding Your Benefit Year

  • The duration of your unemployment benefits are limited per benefit year. Your benefit year is the 52 weeks that follow your initial claim week. Like a benefit week, your benefit year begins on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday. When the DLWD calculates how much money you can receive on your claim, the amount is for each benefit year. Once you max out your compensation for a benefit year, you have to wait until that benefit year is over to start a new unemployment claim.

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