As a law firm, we are committed to making members of our community aware of the options available to them during a time of overwhelming economic uncertainty. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in job loss at unprecedented levels; a Federal Reserve projection estimates that the rate of unemployment may reach 32%, with 67 million Americans working at jobs that have a high risk of layoffs. As a result, record numbers of Tennesseans are applying for unemployment benefits.
Last week, Congress passed a bill to issue stimulus checks and expand unemployment benefits. In Tennessee, the pre-COVID maximum unemployment benefit in Tennessee is $275/week. Under the new bill, that would be expanded by another $600/week for up to four months in order to combat the financial impact of the pandemic.
If you or someone you know has recently been laid off, furloughed, or had hours cut, it is important that you know how to apply for unemployment benefits. The first obstacle to getting unemployment is meeting the qualifications. According to TN.gov, the four criteria that must be met are:
- Being unemployed through “no fault of your own,” a nebulous term that is decided on a case-by-case basis.
- You must have earned a minimum of $780.01 in each of 2 quarters of a time frame called the Base Period, which includes the first four of the last five quarters.
- You must be physically able to work.
- You must be available and looking for work.
You can find the application here on TN.gov. You can find more information on COVID-19 unemployment benefits in Tennessee here. Though claims are being processed as quickly as possible, there was a nearly 20-fold increase in Tennesseans filing for unemployment from March 14 to March 21. Apply as soon as possible, and make sure to follow CDC guidelines on how to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Kaelynn Stewart is Campaign Coordinator at Held Law Firm