How to get your unemployment claim processed more quickly in Tennessee

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID has landed many people out of work, dependent on unemployment to make ends meet. But some have been left waiting on their checks.

WREG investigator April Thompson looked into the delays and what you can do to get your funds faster.

Teresa J. says after correcting her form as she was told to do, she is still waiting.

“It’s been rough,” she said. “My lights are off at my home. I am staying with my daughter now. My car note is due and it’s been rough.”

WREG contacted Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to see if anything can be done to speed up the process.

“Unfortunately many claims, and we know it’s much too long, many claims do take a month or two to process,” said spokesman Chris Cannon.

Cannon said the pandemic has overwhelmed their system with an unbelievable volume of unemployment claims.

“Since the pandemic started, the state has received nearly 1 million claims for unemployment,” he said. “That’s about more than a decade worth of unemployment in the last seven and a half months.”

It’s taking a lot longer to process the 10,000 new claims the state gets every week, instead of the normal three-week turnaround. 

Cannon said in some cases it can take a month or two to process a claim. He said if there are problems with the claim, like missing information or documentation, that can make it even longer.

But the state is clearing many claims and paying tens of thousands each week, even bringing on more staff.

 ‘As soon as this hit, we ramped up as quickly as we could and we added nearly 500 people to work on unemployment since the beginning of the pandemic,” Cannon said.

But the demand has not let up, so we wanted to know what they suggest people do to make sure their claims don’t get bogged down. According to Cannon:

  • When you are applying online, make sure you are paying very close attention to each and every question. Don’t leave out any details and make sure you are getting all information correct. 
  • Make sure you are not creating any red flags for your claim. That will delay your process and delay your payments. 
  • You can track your claim through their system.
  • If you have to call, avoid Monday or Tuesday mornings.

“People find a lot of success if they call later in the evening after 4:30 towards the closing time at 7,” Cannon said. “Fewer people are calling in because they think we are not open. But we are open. We are there to help folks.”

 If you get unemployment benefits through the CARES Act, those programs end Dec. 26. Right now there is no word if it will be extended by Congress.

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