(TDLWD) The partial shutdown of the United States government currently impacts more than 25,000 Tennesseans. Many of these furloughed federal workers are not on the job, while others continue to work without pay.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) manages the federally funded unemployment insurance program. The state received its appropriation for the program before the government shutdown and unemployed Tennesseans continue to receive benefits.
Depending on the length of the shutdown, many Tennesseans who work for the federal government may qualify to collect unemployment benefits.
The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has strict requirements claimants must meet to receive benefits, one of which is an unemployed person must be willing and able to work. A furloughed federal worker meets this requirement because they are free to work.
Federal workers required to remain on the job without pay are not eligible for unemployment benefits because they are not able to work.
If the state approves an application for benefits, unemployment claimants must certify online each week they are available to work. The state also requires they conduct online job searches in order to receive benefits.
It is important to keep in mind, the first week a person files for benefits is considered their waiting week and the claimant will not receive money. They will receive their first payment after two weeks of filing. The state pays the waiting week after a claimant completes four consecutive weeks of certifying for benefits.
During the application process, the state must verify wages with the employer. Since these are federal employees, the shutdown could cause a delay in the verification process. The state has up to 21 days to approve or deny a claim for unemployment benefits.
The maximum weekly benefit in Tennessee is $275, which is subject to federal income taxes.
Once the shutdown ends, and if the federal government provides workers with back pay for the time they were furloughed, per USDOL guidelines, the worker will be responsible for paying the state of Tennessee for any unemployment benefits they received.
As of Jan. 10, 2019, the state of Tennessee has received applications for unemployment benefits from 400 federal workers since the shutdown began.
Federal employees can apply for unemployment benefits through the state’s workforce development website, www.Jobs4TN.gov. This is also the website where claimants complete their weekly job search certifications.